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Framing Democracy : Tanzania

Media Coverage of Tanzania’s 2020 Presidential Elections: A focus on opposition candidate Tundu Lissu

With an unprecedented decline in press freedom since President John Pombe Magufuli took over in 2015, Tanzania has become a tragic case study. Shutdowns of newspapers and other media outlets and censorship are rampant. Some journalists have been purged or harassed for not toeing the line while many others simply left the profession.


The election season is upon us but media houses are careful not to upset Magufuli. So, which media outlets can ordinary people rely on? Airwaves feature a toxic mix of pro-government bias and self-censorship. For one, while there is almost wall-to-wall coverage of the incumbent’s electoral campaign, Tanzanian broadcasters barely air opposition party Chadema’s events. Worse, they do not interview Tundu Lissu, Chadema’s presidential candidate. Independent minds face unfair options: choose objectivity and suffer harassment or shut down. The alternative is to forget about objectivity and retain your licence and benefit from government’s advertising cheque book.

To explore media coverage of Tanzania’s 2020 presidential elections, KAS Media Africa commissioned AfricaBlogging Lead Editor Daniel Ominde Okoth, a Kenyan political blogger to conduct a study on the above with a focus on Lissu. His study is presented as audio (podcast) and text.