Tanzania gained independence from the British in the early 1960s. Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the nation of Tanzania in 1964. Tanzania had its first democratic elections in 1995; this immediately put an end to the one-party system of governance since the 1970s. However, Zanzibar’s semi-autonomous status and popular opposition led to two voting irregularities (World fact book). In 2010, the two leading parties in government managed to decrease electoral tension in 2010 by deciding to promote national unity. Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. The economy depends heavily on agriculture, and accounts for more than 40% of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs 80% of the work force. (World Factbook).
At a glance
Politics: President John Magufuli (elected October, 2015)
Official Language: Kiswahili or Swahili
National Anthem: Mungu ibariki Afrika
Population: 51,045,882 (July 2015 est.)
Freedom of expression: Although the constitution of Tanzania guarantees freedom of speech, several other laws encourage self-censorship and limit the ability of the media to function effectively. About 40 pieces of legislation have been identified as unfriendly to the press. The National Security Act, for example, allows the government to punish any investigative journalism that touches on information it considers classified. Another example is the 1976 Newspaper registration Act, which empowers authorities to register or ban publications “in the interest of peace and good order.” Overtime, there were indications that the government was interested in reform and the Media Council of Tanzania now has a branch on the islands, new press clubs are operating, and an editor’s forum was created in 2009. However, Zanzibar officials continue to monitor the content of both public and private radio and television broadcasts. Tanzania’s internet usage rate was 12 percent of the population in 2011; the rate has increased dramatically since 2005 and is expected to increase in the coming years. Press status in Tanzania according Freedom House is “partly free.”
Visit Freedom House to read further on the Press freedom environment in Tanzania.