Last month The EastAfrican, a regional newspaper printed in Nairobi, was banned in Tanzania after 20 years of operation. The official explanation given by the government was that the paper was in violation of the country’s newspaper registration laws, but the more likely reason for the shutdown was the newspaper’s criticism of President Jakaya Kikwete and this cartoon by famed cartoonist Godfrey Mwampembwa (“GADO“):
Tanzania has, according to Freedom House, at least 17 laws on the books that restrict journalists’ freedom of expression. The 1976 Newspaper Registration Act (which was the law used to close The EastAfrican) is the most “notorious and widely enforced of these laws”, and it has been used to shut down other papers as well.
According to The EastAfrican’s bureau chief Christopher Kidanka, a government spokesperson said the cartoon demonstrated bad taste and disrespect to the person and office of the president. Or maybe the cartoon is demonstrating the president’s and his administration’s disrespect to the Tanzanian people?