The government of Tanzania on Thursday banned a tabloid for two years after it was implicated in linking two former presidents to the ongoing mineral concentrates exports scam.
Harrison Mwakyembe, the east African nation’s Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, imposed the ban to the tabloid called Mawio after it linked former Presidents Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete to the mineral concentrates exports scandal.
A statement issued by the Director of Information Services, Hassan Abbasi, said the ban was effective immediately.
Mawio’s Wednesday edition carried the photographs of the former Presidents on its front page with a story detailing the two leaders’ role in the problems bedeviling the mining sector in Tanzania.
“I have been left with no other option than to use powers conferred on me by the Information Services Act to impose a ban on Mawio from publication for the next 24 months,” said the statement quoting the minister.
Apart from printing, the newspaper will also not be allowed to run the digital version or on its social platforms, said the statement.
Mawio was accused of ignoring a government directive on reporting about the former leaders who ruled the country for 20 years from 1995 to 2015 when President John Magufuli took over.
On Wednesday, President Magufuli warned the media against linking Mkapa and Kikwete to reports of the dispute with the mining giant Acacia Gold Mining Plc.
Magufuli sounded the warning after he had held talks with Barrick Gold Corporation Chairman John Thornton at the State House.
“Media should stop tarnishing reputation of our leaders. They have done great job in serving this country. We should let them rest,” the president said.
On Monday, President Magufuli ordered the investigation of all former and current government officials who were involved in the signing of mining agreements that led the country to incurring losses amounting to billions of U.S. dollars.
He said the officials to be investigated included former mining ministers and senior lawyers who entered into mining deals that created loopholes for foreign mining companies to rip-off the country.
The president made the order shortly after he was presented with the second report on mineral concentrates in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
Nehemiah Osoro, the chairman of a special presidential committee that compiled the second mineral concentrates report, said the report revealed that there was massive cheating by mining companies on the amount of gold exports and tax evasion.
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