Media freedom has its limits, Magufuli warns journalists

Tanzanian President John Magufuli. /FILE
Tanzanian President John Magufuli. /FILE

Tanzania's President John Magufuli warned the country's journalists on Friday that there were limits to their press freedom, comments that will add to opposition concern that his government is further narrowing the space for public criticism.

Magufuli made the remarks during the swearing in of new Information Minister Harrison Mwakyembe, who was appointed in a reshuffle.

Critics said Mwakyembe's predecessor Nape Nnauye was sacked as retribution for ordering a probe into an alleged raid on a private television station by a senior government official.

"I would like to tell media owners - be careful, watch it. If you think you have that kind of freedom, (it is) not to that extent," Magufuli said.

He ordered Mwakyembe to clamp down on media organisations that publish or broadcast material deemed to incite unrest, saying his government would not allow a few individuals to destabilise east Africa's second-biggest economy, which is home to 50 million people.

Magufuli, nicknamed "the Bulldozer" for his strict leadership style, has dismissed dozens of senior public officials over allegations of corruption and inefficiency since he was elected in late 2015 as part of a reform drive.

Opponents accuse him of becoming increasingly authoritarian, undermining democracy and cracking down on dissent. He denies the allegations.

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