Tanzania denies death of missing journalist

Tanzania’s government spokesman has posted a series of tweets denying that the foreign minister had said in a BBC interview that a missing journalist was dead.

Spokesman Hassan Abbas tweets that the minister was speaking “contextually”, the Tanzanian government still has no confirmation whether the journalist is dead or alive and that the issue is still being investigated.

In his interview with the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme, Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi appeared to refer to investigative journalist Azory Gwanda as dead three times.

Quote Message: “In the Rufiji area, [it] is not only Azory Gwanda, Azory who has disappeared and died. Azory Gwanda is part of many other Tanzanians who had been killed in that area. The state is dealing with all those who have unfortunately died and disappeared in Rufiji, it was very painful for someone who was doing his job to pass on.”

Mr Kabudi was attending a conference on media freedom in London when the BBC’s Peter Okwoche asked him about Mr Gwanda.

Mr Gwanda went missing in 2017 after investigating a spate of murders.

Mr Gwanda’s wife, Anna Pinon, told the BBC’s Esther Namuhisa that the authorities have not contacted her for a year and a half and she believes he is still alive.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has been campaigning for the authorities to investigate the case properly.

The CPJ’s Robert Mahoney expressed outrage at Mr Kabudi’s comments.

“For a year and a half, Azory Gwanda’s family and the Tanzanian media have pleaded with the government to explain what happened to their loved one and colleague.

Then suddenly the foreign minister mentions, almost in passing, that the journalist is apparently dead. This is wholly inadequate and distressing.”

His wife says the last time she saw him was when he left their farm in a white Land Cruiser with four men she did not recognise, the CPJ adds.

CPJ says multiple people believe that those men are security personnel. –BBC

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