The Tanzanian government has slapped a three-month ban on Mwanahalisi, a weekly Kiswahili newspaper, for reporting an alleged plot to unseat President Jakaya Kikwete, writes Hamis Mzee.


The alleged plot was said to involve the president’s eldest son, Ridhwan Kikwete, who is allegedly being used by powerful elements within the ruling party to prevent his father from running for a second term in office.

Kikwete’s first presidential term is due to expire in 2010. Tanzania’s constitution provides for a maximum of two five-year terms for the president.

Saed Kubenaye, the managing director of the newspaper’s publishing company, Hali Halisi, was summoned to police headquarters to be interrogated about the report.

Announcing the ban on the newspaper, the Minister for Information, Culture and Sports, retired Capt. George Mkuchika, said the paper has been punished for contravening journalistic professional ethics.

He said the newspaper has often been publishing seditious stories in disregard of reprimands by his office.

 “My office had  summoned the Director of  Hali Halisi company and warned him three times, but  there have no been changes in the newspaper,“ said Mkuchika.

The minister said that the news story contravenes 1976 newspaper legislation: it was  seditious and created disharmony in the first family.

The minister mentioned several other stories by the newspaper which the authorities saw as seditious.

Kubeneya himself said his paper has not committed any offence by running the story, which he claimed was obtained from impeccable sources.

This is not the first time that Kubeneya has been in trouble with the law.

A few months ago, the police  raided his newspaper’s offices and retrieved computers and  some documents  after claims that the newspaper had obtained  information on the bank accounts of some government heavy weights and business leaders from the National Bank.

This was at the height of a public outcry about corruption following disclosures of impropriety that led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Lowassa and two cabinet ministers.

Lowassa and the two ministers resigned after being implicated in the now infamous Richmond scandal.
Richmond was found by a parliamentary select committee to be a fictitious company which was engaged to generate electricity power when water levels had dropped drastically at Mtera and Kidatu dams, jeopardizing hydro-electric power schemes at the dams.

In another incident earlier this year, Kubeneya was attacked and sprayed in the face with what is suspected to have been a solution containing acid.

He was sent to India for treatment. Four people are facing trial for the attack.