Friday, February 01, 2013
MwanaHalisi refuses to die
To All Lovers Of Press Freedom
MwanaHALISI, our beloved weekly banned by government six months ago (30th June 2012), has refused to die. It has remained in the hearts and therefore on the lips, of its readers – friends and foe.
In the past two weeks, discussions on radio and TV at a good number of stations in Dar es Salaam, have extolled the paper and further pleaded with government for its immediate and unconditional unban in order to fill what many of them called the void in well dug pieces of news and information.
But, in the midst of such demands and exaltations, President Jakaya Kikwete, speaking from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital where he was attending the APRM forum, sent word that could either sink the weekly further or bring it back on the streets.
The president was quoted by his government’s daily – HABARILEO – saying his government banned one newspaper because it published material that was geared to inciting the army to rebel.
Providing answers and explanations to allegations of suppression of freedom of the press, raised during the APRM session, President Kikwete was quoted as saying, “Yes, there is a newspaper we have banned for inciting the army… There are those calling for its unban but we are not going to do so…this is not journalism.”
On the one part, the president’s stand brought some relief to journalists and management at Hali Halisi Publishers Limited – publishers of MwanaHALISI because the paper is not on record for publishing any material geared to inciting the army; nor had there been any allegations leveled by government against us to that effect.
On the other part, there is on record, one newspaper which stands accused of publishing material the government deems verged on inciting the army. The writer of the disputed article, his editor and printer, have been arraigned in court. None of these has any link with MwanaHALISI.
But MwanaHALISI is the only paper in the country banned by government; therefore the president could have been referring to it even if it had not been accused of inciting the army; and when those accused of incitement have already been arraigned in court. Could it be a riddle?
The government newspaper published the president’s remarks on Monday, 28thJanuary instant. Today is the fourth day and no signs of government rescinding the statement nor any official elaborating on the matter.
However, at MwanaHALISI we have made efforts to reach authority – including the president’s office – to seek government action: To unban the weekly. This is because, accusations and allegations regarding publication of material geared to incite the army, which the president said necessitated the ban of “a newspaper,” do not concern us at all.
We count on every honest soul in this matter.