The news coming out of Tanzania is refreshing.
It is a break from the combative and hostile media environment that reigned under late leader John Pombe Magufuli.
On Tuesday, Tanzania’s new President announced that bans slapped on a number of media outlets by her predecessor, Magufuli, who died last month are now to be lifted.
“I understand that there are media organisations that have been closed – let them open and ensure they follow the law,” President Samia Suluhu Hassan instructed national authorities.
She says media rules, regulations and penalties should be transparent, so that everyone knows what to expect should they do wrong – and so that the punishment is proportionate.
President Samia says government must not be seen to curtail media freedoms.
These are progressive steps being taken by Samia. It is always important to freshen the spirit of the nation after some period marked by a leadership that is good at nourishing hurt! Of what value is democracy when those holding dissenting views – different opinion – to those in leadership have to be stifled, face closures or arrests?
The world witnessed, with sadness, harassment of journalists and opposition MPs in Tanzania under the Magufuli administration. As if to mirror the neighbour, the media in Zambia under Edgar Lungu has been operating under a very difficult political and commercial environment. It’s very difficult especially for independent media to operate freely and professionally when one knows that that leader wears his heart on the sleeves at times!
We say so because of the anti-democratic tendencies Edgar has exhibited since replacing Michael Sata. As we have stated before, we have never seen a person as destructive as Edgar. Michael Sata bequeathed him with a very good party, today it’s a shell – Edgar has destroyed it.
Edgar found a relatively strong multiparty democracy, today Edgar has reduced it to a de facto one party dictatorship “in everything except in name”. He found a political environment where an opposition party could freely mobilise and win elections. But today Edgar has created a brutal and intolerant regime where only he and his minions can politically be seen and heard. He has completely destroyed the political environment that enabled the Patriotic Front to freely mobilise and win elections in 2011.
Edgar has destroyed the plurality of our society. He found a society where there were many different voices, today only those voices that praise and sing Hallelujah to him and ignore his heinous deeds can be heard. Edgar found a thriving and courageous news media, today he has brought it to its knees with closures, threats and intimidation. Edgar has not hesitated to ban political parties. He deregistered the Democratic Party (DP) to stop Harry Kalaba from having a party of his own. Edgar also deregistered the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to frustrate Chishimba Kambwili’s opposition efforts and denunciation of the corruption of his league.
DP and NDC were only rescued from Lungu’s political incinerator by High Court orders.
And as if this was not enough damage to the country, Edgar has finally destroyed the economy.
He has crushed Zambia “like a tonne of bricks”!
But despite this destruction, Edgar is still seeking a third term of office. To come do what? To come and ruin life itself?
But Leon Trotsky urges that, “Life is beautiful. Let the generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence and enjoy it to the full.”
Something is happening in Tanzania. Are the PF seeing? If they are not seeing, then it’s either they do not have eyes or if they have then they have not opened them wide enough.