Earlier this year, Reporters Without Borders ranked Tanzania 83rd out of 180 countries in its latest annual press freedom report, 12 places below its 2016 rank (RSF, 06.11.2017). This staggering decline – second largest in the world after Nicaragua – serves to illustrate the rising fears over Tanzania’s increasingly restrictive media environment.

Since coming into office in October 2015, the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) government appears to have taken steps to limit the freedom and independence of Tanzania’s media. President John Magufuli himself is said to tolerate “no criticism of himself or his program”, and was instrumental in introducing the controversial Media Services Act in November 2016.

Highly criticised for its apparent oppressive nature, the new legislation has ostensibly reinforced the government’s powers to control and inhibit Tanzania's media environment, adding to the already restrictive regulations laid out in the Cybercrimes Act, the Access to Information Act, and the Statistics Act.

Over the past five months, the authorities have utilised these powers to target at least four newspapers – all of which have alleged connections to the political opposition.