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Vendors arrange copies of newspapers following the death of Tanzania's President John Magufuli in Dar es Salaam, March 18, 2021. Photo Reuters


DAR ES SALAAM - Earlier this week, new Tanzanian President Samia Hassan announced that media outlets shut down under her predecessor could reopen.  But the chief government spokesman said Wednesday that Hassan was only referring to online television.  Journalists are confused and not happy with the new administration.

This week, Tanzanian journalists applauded an announcement from President Samia Hassan that media organizations suspended under the late president John Magufuli would be allowed to reopen.

But a day later the mood has changed, as the newly appointed government spokesperson clarified that Hassan’s announcement applied only to online television outlets.

Neville Meena is a secretary of the Tanzania Editors Forum.  He said it appears that the ministry of information is disobeying the president’s order.  

He said that earlier, in his press release about the president’s event, the government spokesperson wrote that among the directives that the president made was to reopen all suspended media outlets. Later he comes out and reversed what he has written. In my opinion, Meena said, this contradiction was created by the same people who were there in the ministry of information for a long time under the leadership of the late John Magufuli. He said these are the same people who participated in denying licenses to media outlets.

Issa Mbura is an assistant lecturer in the school of journalism at the University of Dar es Salaam.

He said, the first question I asked myself was that what do we fear? Why were the statement and the order given out by the person in the top position later being clarified by someone with a lower position?

Information Minister Innocent Bashungwa said the government is willing to meet with owners of still-suspended media outlets and discuss the path to reopening.

Bashungwa said if there are case by case situations with other media outlets, they should go to his office to discuss the issue. He said that if there is another media outlet that wants to reopen besides online television, there were reasons for their suspension, the laws were used to come up with the decision and I believe the law has also given out guidelines to what should be done if those media outlets need to return to work.

Rights activists say there is no partial freedom of the press and it should be granted fully. Anna Henga is the executive director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre in Tanzania.

Henga said if one media outlet is free and the other is not free that is not freedom. Freedom means all people are free and this is the actual meaning of freedom. We take this as the refusal of authorities to implement the president’s instructions. A president gives out instructions and you give them another interpretation -- I think this is not something good for civil servants, she said.

As things stand now, Kwanza TV, an outlet owned by government critic Maria Sarungi, will be allowed to reopen, while four newspapers closed by Magufuli’s government remain closed. - Charles Kombe, Voice of America


Kenya’s Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) announced on Wednesday that 279 people reported suffering adverse effects after taking the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

“All reported serious AEFI [Adverse event following immunization] are under investigations and none of them has resulted into fatal outcomes,” the PPB said in a statement. "Out of the 279 reported cases, 272 were mild and resolved within a short period."

Deputy Director of the PPB Peter Mbwiiri Ikamati, who spoke at a news conference earlier in the day said one person died from an adverse event following immunization.

But the PPB later recanted and said that “there was a misreporting of an adverse event following immunization (AEFI) as fatal.”

The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported 1,523 people have tested positive for the virus from a sample size of 7,423.

Total positive cases are now 141,365 and cumulative tests conducted are 1,530,736 in the East African nation that has 52.5 million people.

A total of 616 patients have recovered from the disease bringing the number of recoveries to 97,194. Eighteen deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours, all are late death reports from facility record audits. Cumulative fatalities stand at 2,276.

The Ministry of Health announced that 339,893 people in Kenya have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine as of Tuesday -- 99,084 are health workers, 27, 945 security officers, 45,877 teachers and 166,987 are other members of the public, including residents who are 58 years and older. By Andrew Wasike Shimanyula, Anadolu Agency

In Summary

•On April 3, the IMF approved a Sh255 billion loan for Kenya which the Treasury says would be used to support the next phase of the Covid-19 response and address the urgent need to reduce debt vulnerabilities.

•Kenyans have consistently protested the loan citing lack of transparency in government spending.

International Monetary Fund IMF

Kenyans on Tuesday flocked to the comments section during a live streaming by the International Monetary Fund demanding immediate termination of loans facilities to the country.

With a common hashtag, #stoploaningKenya, Kenyans urged the international lender  to "stop fueling corruption through loans".

On April 3, the IMF approved a Sh255 billion loan facility for Kenya which the Treasury says would be used to support the next phase of the Covid-19 response and address the urgent need to reduce debt vulnerabilities. 

An initial disbursement of Sh79 billion is expected, of which Sh34 billion will be released immediately and Sh44.2 billion by June 30.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said said the country pursued the facility as the early measures announced by the government to the effect of tax reliefs, expanded health spending, and social interventions such as Kazi Mtaani set forth the need for additional cash.

Majority of Kenyans wondered why the IMF approved the loan request at a time the country is already burdened with debt.

It was on Thursday, just a day before the loan was approved that the latest study by Infotrak suggested that most regions are opposed to the government appetite for foreign loans, the President Uhuru Kenyatta's backyard being the most resentful.

The survey said 81 per cent of Kenyans feel anxious, fearful or angry because of the debt burden.

According to the 2021 Budget Policy Statement, Kenya's public debt as of June 2020 stood at Sh7. 6 trillion, equivalent to 65 per cent of GDP.

According to the report on Ethical Development released last Wednesday, most Kenyans are concerned that future generations will be saddled with the debt and will have to repay it for a long time. 

Others feel the country will not be able to pay back and hence be embarrassed for years or worse, lose National resources , facilities and installations.

Former Mukurweini MP Kabando wa Kabando said the country had gone back to the days of Kanu when the government was dependent on loans. By Sharon Maombo, The Star

The UK has halted aid funding for Oxfam following allegations of sexual misconduct against staff in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The charity confirmed last week that two members of staff in the DRC were suspended as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of abuses of power, including bullying and sexual misconduct.

In a statement, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said: “All organisations bidding for UK aid must meet the high standards of safeguarding required to keep the people they work with safe.

The Charity Commission and FCDO have been notified appropriately and we will continue to keep them informed as the investigation concludes its work

“Given the most recent reports, which call into question Oxfam’s ability to meet those standards, we will not consider any new funding to Oxfam until the issues have been resolved.” ES

Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro leads a mass in Juba, South Sudan on Dec. 15, 2014. Photo AFP


JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN - The retired Catholic archbishop of South Sudan, Paulino Lukudu Loro, died Monday in Nairobi at the age of 80. The archbishop served for 30 years and was hailed by many in South Sudan for his efforts to promote peace during the country's long civil war.

The Reverend Father Samuel Abe, spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese of Juba, said Archbishop Loro was rushed to Kenya’s capital last month when his condition started deteriorating.

“First of all, last Saturday he had a very severe stroke which affected his dying and so it escalated into instability of his blood pressure and today the pressure just went down, and it is the cause of the death; primarily it is the stroke on his head,” Abe said.

Abe said Loro’s death has left a great void, because he was a key player in advising political leaders on how to achieve peace in South Sudan.

“It’s very clear as a peacemaker, a man of peace, he always advises people to take the interest of the country above our personal and our individual interests," Abe said. "And so, his words are still I think in our minds, his words are still with us and it’s up to us to put all his endeavors (and) his initiatives into practice, especially the political leaders, (and) the religious leaders of this country.”

Abe said he wished Loro had witnessed peace in South Sudan before his death but noted that people are still fighting and still dying.

Eli Joseph, youth chairperson at St. Kizito Parish, said Loro played a significant peacemaking role among various factions during the years when South Sudan was fighting for its independence from Sudan.

During South Sudan’s more recent civil war, Simon Gore, youth coordinator at St. Theresa Cathedral, said he remembers Bishop Loro for his boldness in telling the truth to the warring leaders.

“The peace process, he was not favoring any side, when he feels that there is slowness in implementation, he approached both of the partners and aired out his voice, and the right thing that they should be doing in order for his flocks not to suffer,” Gore said.

Loro was appointed archbishop of Juba on February 19, 1983, and served in this office until his retirement last year.

Archbishop Stephen Ameyu announced a four-day mourning period due to Loro’s death. It is not clear when Loro will be buried. - Winnie Cirino, Voice of America

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