From information received it seems that President Kikwetehas signed the new draconian bills against publishing
statistics not sanctioned by his increasingly oppressive
government into law, now making it a criminal offense.
Not falling into his jurisdiction be sure that you will still
get data updates on this blog while our legal team
determines if an arrest could be affected when next
visiting Tanzania …so watch this space!
Serengeti Watch Alert
A new president will be elected in October,
and the stakes are high. The leading contender has
The " Statistics Bill
" will make it illegal
disseminate information that does not
with the government’s own Bureau of
Statistics. Conservationists, academics,
and activists could
face jail time for publishing anything not
officially released by the government.
The "Cybercrimes Act" will make it
share information that is "deceptive,
or inaccurate," even to receive such
Police can confiscate equipment and
if they simply suspect such a "crime" has
are under consideration that will further
freedoms and give the government
Publishing Under Threat
It’s a pivotal moment for the Tanzanian people, their
freedoms, development, and their great natural
heritage. These laws could not come at a worse
time – before an election, with a bright new generation of young people eager to make a contribution, with serious issues of
climate change, population growth, wildlife crime,
corruption, and social welfare.
Now more than ever Tanzania needs a free flow of
creative ideas to deal with these challenges. And now
The impact would be devastating for wildlife crime,
conservation research, and for education and
awareness among Tanzanians. The laws would
severely limit the effectiveness of conservation
organizations. For instance, who would be able to
publish controversial statistics on the impact of a
highway across the Serengeti?
Another case in point, last year the Environmental
Investigative Agency issued a landmark report stating
that Tanzania had lost two thirds of its elephants in
the previous six years. It stated that "responsibility lies
at the highest levels of government." It goes on to say
that in 2005 there were some 142,000 elephants in
Tanzania and that when President Kikwete leaves
office in 2015, the population will have dropped to
The East African, a newspaper published in Kenya and
widely circulated throughout the region summarized
the report. In January of this year, the paper was
banned in Tanzania.
The Great Elephant Census, a two-year project funded
by Microsoft founder, Paul Allen, more recently reported that the elephant population in Ruaha National Park and neighboring game reserves has gone from 20,000 to 8,000 in a single year! The Tanzanian government received the report in January but claims it needs a "secondary validation."
What is the Cybercrimes Act?
This law is perhaps the most extreme. The authorities
only have to suspect that information is "deceptive,
misleading or inaccurate." Information on wildlife
and other issues is shared on social media by a small
but active group of young Tanzanians. Police could
enter anytime on suspicion, arrest users, and
confiscate computers. Again, the threat extends well
beyond conservation and would be a huge blow for
open communication and freedom in Tanzania.
How will this affect journalists?
In neighboring Kenya the media can be quite
outspoken. But in Tanzania, press harassment is
getting worse as the ruling party faces growing
opposition in advance of elections. Of course in a
repressive environment, self censorship becomes a
way to survive. Even if the laws are not widely
enforced, their presence will inhibit the flow of
information, driving it underground.
Why is this happening?
Perhaps out of fear. The ruling party has always held
power in Tanzania, but it has lost support in many
communities across the country. The old guard dates
back to the days when their party had total dominance.
Perhaps for protection. Wildlife crime is rampant. The
money involved is staggering and the layers of
corruption are deep. The blood ivory of a single dead
elephant is worth $21,000. With more than 87,000
elephants poached in the past ten years, it amounts
nearly two billion dollars, a vast sum for a developing
country. The lifetime value of these elephants is 75
times that amount, a veritable treasure stolen from
ATCNews : Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome is the publisher of ATCNews, Eastern Africa’s leading aviation, tourism and conservation news blog of its kind. Wolfgang has over 45 years of experience in the tourism, aviation and conservation fields in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, covering all aspects of safari operations, hotel operations and air operations. Since 1992 he resides in Uganda, previously living for 17 years in Kenya.