Dar es Salaam (AFP) – A top Tanzanian television presenter has been suspended, along with eight fellow employees of the main state-run channel, for relaying fake news in which US President Donald Trump praised his Tanzanian counterpart.
In the fake news item, run this weekend, Trump describes Tanzania’s President John Magufuli as an example for other African leaders.
TBC1 regrets “a lack of professionalism which led to the dissemination of false information,” the channel’s head Ayub Rioba Chacha said in a Swahili-language statement.
The nine employees involved, including celebrated reporter/presenter Gabriel Zacharia, would have avoided the problem if they had stuck to the editorial rules, he added.
The offending item was taken from a fake news website.
In the fake online article Trump hails Magufuli and his fight against corruption, presenting him as “an African hero” and an example to other regional leaders accused of “doing nothing”.
Magufuli, who came to power in 2015, has been nicknamed “tingatinga”, meaning “bulldozer” in Swahili.
He began his presidency by sweeping the streets on independence day and summarily firing government officials suspected of ineptitude or corruption.
He has also sacked latecomer civil servants during surprise visits to their offices and banned first class tickets, expensive foreign travel and costly “per diem” allowances for officials.
To his detractors Magufuli is authoritarian and populist.
His administration has shut down newspapers, banned opposition rallies, switched off live broadcasts of parliamentary sessions and applied a draconian “cyber crimes” law to jail critics.