31 October 2013

Tanzanian journalist refuses to be intimidated

Arusha, Tanzania - Press freedom isn't usually ranked too high on the aid and development agenda.

In fact, it's usually ignored. Even as many laud efforts by the Tanzanian government to improve the lives of its citizens through agricultural reform and other development aims, journalists here are finding it increasingly difficult to do their work, informing fellow Tanzanians.

The government recently shut down two Swahili-language papers, Mwananchi and Mtanzania, at the end of September. Internal documents reveal that a story published Mwanachi with the new government salary structures was the cause for the closure.

Tanzania's relatively democratic government does not attract international headlines. It is in part due to its steadily improving economy and a president who plays nice with Western countries.  However, press freedom in the country are slowly eroding to the point that it is increasingly dangerous to do independent reporting in the country.

Freelance journalist Erick Kabendera, 34, is a case in point. Kabendera has become more cautious over the past few years.

Kabendera carries around his own wifi point in order to ensure the security of his computer. When at home, he uses a separate IP address from his wife in order to protect his family and their identity. Rumors spread recently that his wife is a nuclear scientist. Kabendera believes the government was behind it.

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