Tanzania has suspended the publication of The Citizen newspaper for seven days with officials accusing the paper, which is owned by Mwananchi Communications Limited, of running a “false” story on fall of the shilling against the dollar.
On its website, which was also consequently shut, the newspaper said the crackdown came after it ran a story urging authorities to closely monitor the fall of the Tanzanian shilling against the greenback. The ban took effect on Wednesday. Mwananchi Communications is subsidiary of Nation Media Group.
The Citizen was accused of publishing false information in the story on February 23. In its report, The Citizen had quoted a random survey of foreign exchange bureaus in Dar es Salaam, the country’s commercial capital, which indicated one US dollar was going for Tsh 2,415.
On the other hand, commercial banks were quoting one dollar at Tsh 2,436 up from Tsh 2,238 at the end of last week. It quoted experts as warning the trend may mean Tanzanians will be forced to did deeper into their pockets due to increased cost of importing goods.
This is the second time government authorities in Tanzania have hit hard at NMG. In January 2015, the President Jakaya Kikwete closed NMG’s The East Africa weekly newspaper for a year after it published what he considered an offensive cartoon ridiculing his fight against corruption. The newspaper resumed publishing in January 2016, causing the media
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Since coming to power, President John Magufuli had shut down several newspapers and radio stations and imposed restrictive media laws. Several journalists have also been arrested. Last year, the government banned four newspapers, Mawio, Mwanahalisi, Raia Mwema and Tanzania Daima after falling foul of authorities.
Another newspaper, Mseto, was also banned after publishing a story touching on corruption and illegal practices, which the Information minister said portrayed Magufuli and a member of his Cabinet in bad light. The paper moved to the East African Court of Justice, which overturned the decision.