Amid preparations for delayed national elections, the government ordered two local newspapers to temporarily cease publishing, accusing both of violating the 1976 Newspaper Act.
The Swahili-language newspaper Tanzania Daima was suspended for three days for publishing a picture and caption deemed offensive to President Benjamin Mkapa. The caption, which the newspaper's management claimed was satirical, suggested that the president had trouble paying off the country's foreign debts. The newspaper is published by a media company associated with opposition presidential candidate Freeman Mbowe, according to news reports.
The weekly tabloid Amani was suspended for 28 days due to alleged ethical violations. In November, Amani published a story that appeared to link the death of a senior Tanzanian official with a woman pictured in a photograph, according to news reports. The government alleged that the story harmed the official's family, according to the local chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).
According to MISA, the Newspaper Act gives the Minister of Information wide discretionary powers to suspend or close down newspapers. "The minister may prohibit publication of any newspaper 'in the public interest' or 'in the interest of peace and good order,'" the organization reported.