Tanzania Media Sustainability Index (MSI)
About the MSI
IREX designed the MSI to measure the strength and viability of any country's media sector. The MSI considers all the factors that contribute to a media system—the quality of journalism, effectiveness of management, the legal environment supporting freedom of the press, and more—to arrive at scores on a scale ranging between 0 and 4. These scores represent the strength of the media sector components and can be analyzed over time to chart progress (or regression) within a country. Additionally, countries or regions may be compared to one another. IREX currently conducts the MSI in 80 countries, and began studying Africa in 2006.
MSI Tanzania - 2012 Introduction
Overall Country Score: 2.46
In 2011 and 2012, freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Tanzania continued to be relatively well tolerated in comparison with some other East African countries. Journalists are generally able to investigate stories, write critically of the government or other political figures, and even deal with issues of corruption without fear of physical reprisals. Thus, the environment in Tanzania is considered a mostly peaceful one, an encouraging sign for active journalists. However, a few nasty incidents have occurred, particularly the accidental shooting of a television presenter during an opposition political rally.
This encouraging atmosphere does not, however, extend completely to the legal environment, which is still plagued by outdated, restrictive laws. The government sometimes uses these laws to aggressively pursue its own agenda. To date, two editors of Mwananchi and Tanzania Daima are facing sedition charges in the courts.
Furthermore, in September 2012, a weekly tabloid, Mwanahalisi, was banned indefinitely after publishing a story of the beating of a medical doctor, the leader of striking doctors. The paper claimed that the government was responsible and named the security and intelligence officials, reporting their cell phone numbers, and evidence of their contact with the doctor immediately before being kidnapped, blindfolded, taken to the forest, beaten unconscious, and left for dead.
These laws and their enforcement are clear violations of basic human rights, but despite the fact that they were enacted prior to independence, and despite repeated calls to abolish them, they remain in place. The government has directed stakeholders in the media to prepare a media policy to pave the way for enacting new media laws in line with international standards. However, the ministry responsible for this has so far neglected to table it in the national assembly.
The current government, headed by the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, has maintained the same ideals of socialism that have been the hallmark of Tanzanian politics for decades. With CCM having won every election since the establishment of the multi-party system in 1992, the panelists agreed that future advances for the media in Tanzania will likely face challenges.
CCM as ruling political party has consistently failed Tanzanians in terms of bringing prosperity, and corruption is at a peak. While the president and others have claimed to be on the forefront of the anti-corruption fight, his opponents have said that his efforts are insincere attempts to appease international donors. The result for the media is that the peace mentioned above is still an uneasy one.