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Meet the brains behind ‘JamiiForums’

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Six years ago, a young man and a teenager sat down and planned to create an online user-generated news platform. Then it looked like more of a game of gamble to tap into a small target market of information-hungry consumers than a well-researched business plan. But today, theirs has grown to become one of the most popular online news platforms in the country.

Perhaps the question to ask Maxence Melo and Mike Mushi is what an engineering student and a young boy waiting to join secondary school after completing Standard Seven had in mind when they created JamiiForums?

“My passion for journalism drove me into the project. I also wanted to equip journalists with the Internet as an alternative media tool to air their stories,” says Maxence, co-founder of the popular online news site.

maxence-mike

Interestingly, the two met online in 2006. At that time they created JamiiForums, the whole idea of social media was still in its infancy, if not alien, not just in Tanzania, but also in many other developing countries. One would be forgiven for saying that the decision was in itself a plunge into the dark by two youthful minds.

But half a decade down the line, Maxence and Mike seem to have hit the mark. In JamiiForums, the two have created a new way Tanzanians look at social media – from being essentially a conduit of no-holds-barred social exchanges, a dumping ground of raw emotions and a site of phatic communication to a platform where people from all walks of life can deliberate on pertinent issues affecting society with minimal restrictions.

Affectionately known as ‘The Home of Great Thinkers’, the platform that began as an act of youthful audacity now boasts about 100,000 registered members, attracts at least 150 new ones daily, and gets about 50,000 visitors every day.

In 2010, JamiiForums stamped its authority. It got its highest number of visitors ever on the first of November during the general election.

That seemed to have been a seal of approval to its creators – who had no background in journalism, but had a passion for the field with a lot of potential to spearhead political, social and economic change.

“I think people wanted to know what was going on around different parts of Tanzania. While others were posting results directly from polling stations,” says Maxence, the co-founder of the site.

On that day, he tells Success in a recent interview, more than 600,000 readers were glued to the site in search of updates on the general election.

Yet the most interesting story about JamiiForums is not the 96 million visits every month or the 12 million pageviews that it also gets on a monthly basis, but how what at first seemed like a little bit of a hit-and-miss plan by two young brains turned into a million-dollar project.

According to statscrop.com, which explores websites and monitors their performance, JamiiForums is worth $3,182,721 (approx. Sh5 billion). It is ranked the 7th most popular online social forum in the country, and number 9,944in the world, according to the Alexa rankings.

Maxence says that they are currently in the process of turning JamiiForums into a news portal – reporting live news events.

“We initially invested nothing in it except our efforts. When we started we only paid for the domain name and hosting. But now, JamiiForums has four different servers, each of them costing at least $900 (Sh1.44 million) a month,” says Maxence, whose company, Palvos Group, has 12 employees.

He adds: “If you look at it, we’re somehow running it at a loss. But we’re sure to benefit soon.”

 

The birth of JamiiForums

JamiiForums, (also known among its members as ‘JF’) is one of the Palvos Group products. It came into being in May 2008 as a successor to the former ‘JamboForums’, set up in March 2006.

Maxence Melo

“It was an online media conglomerate, bringing together a number of online forums and sites like Tanzania Economic Forum, Habari Tanzania, Jambo Network, Jambo Radio and Jambo Videos,” says Maxence.

They were compelled to change the name to avoid a wrangle on the rights to the brand name. Today, JamiiForums, whose copyright is registered in the US, is home to multiple forums, with a wider range of themes.

“We had different sites with different purposes. The aim was to set up a single site in which interested parties would converge, discuss, agree or agree to disagree. “

The aim, Maxence says, was to reach not only Kiswahili speakers across the Great Lakes Region, but also English speakers interested in the goings-on in the countries in the region.

Born in the Kantare village in Kagera Region, Maxence was a student at the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT) when JamiiForums began. He pursued a full technician certificate, and later went on to do a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering at the same college.

His interest in IT had begun earlier, in the 1990s. “But then it was just an interest, which was not really taken seriously,” he says.

On completing his studies, he worked for a construction company called CSI, and quit in 2010 to focus on JamiiForums after juggling the two for four years. 

Mike Mushi

His colleague, Mike is currently pursuing a degree in business administration with Information Technology at LearnIT. Interestingly, the JamiiForums co-founder seems to be a media shy guy. Efforts by Success to get him to share a little bit more about JamiiForums were almost fruitless. But his colleague explained that Mike has his fears when it comes to dealing with the media – he is afraid of distortions.  

While this sounds ironical considering that he is someone who has created a platform where people can tell their minds freely, his reservations are understandable.

On February 18, 2008, Maxence and Mike had what Max says it’s the “worst experience” of their life when they were arrested by the police, for an interrogation that took a full day. The two were detained on ‘suspicion of a criminal activity’.

“Many times we’ve been threatened by people who want to use the State apparatus against us. But we have no issues with the authorities, except that there are some politicians, who do not know what JamiiForums is all about in the first place,” explains Max.

This year, a member of parliament asked in the National Assembly, why JamiiForums had not been closed because to the lawmaker, it was being used to insult some people.

In some government offices, the site has been blocked, says Max. “But the State itself has not bothered us in any way, despite mounting pressure from some politicians,” he explains.

But on the positive side, the pressure and threats could be worth it after all, considering that JamiiForums pumps in an average of Sh18 million from eight advertisements posted on the site.

Currently, one of the major deals JamiiForums has struck is a campaign with Vodacom aimed at reaching the offline community via SMS.

“We're charging Sh150 per SMS, and we currently have over 1,500 subscribers. We expect the number to rise in the next 60 days as we've employed our own journalists who will be reporting live events, analysing articles and verifying contents being posted on the site,” says Max.

This year, JamiiForums, Google’s biggest Kiswahili content provider, won the ‘Tanzania Leader in Local Digital Media award by Vodacom.

“We are looking forward to redesigning the site to meet the current market,” Max reveals.

They also have plans to open offices in Nairobi and work on the Ugandan and French versions (targeting Congo and Rwanda).

Article written By Joseph Mtebe | The Citizen | October 23, 2012 | Email: joefortunatus@gmail.com

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. MZALENDO 68

    27/10/2012 at 3:41 pm

    NATAMANI KUJUA JINSI YA KUTUMAI HUU MTANDAO TAFADHARI NIELEKEZENI

  2. antipas riziki

    05/11/2012 at 6:48 am

    nimependa idea zenu na mungu awabariki muwe na mafanikio na maisha marefu mufaidi matunda yenu

  3. fredy white

    05/12/2012 at 11:26 am

    me too i would like to know much about your network?

  4. ray05

    02/01/2013 at 3:54 am

    inspired by these guys

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Biashara/Uchumi

Kamari za mtandaoni janga jipya kwa vijana Afrika

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Ukuaji wa  huduma za miamala ya fedha kwa njia ya mtandao (mobile money) umetenegeneza fursa mpya kwa wafanyabiashara kutangaza na kuuza bidhaa na huduma zao. Moja ya fursa ambayo inavuma kama upepo wa dhoruba nchini ni ukuaji wa sekta ya ubashiri katika mchezo wa mpira wa miguu.

Kwa lugha nyepesi inatambulika kama ‘kubeti’ au ‘sport betting’. Kilichofanya sekta hiyo ikue ni ongezeko la matumizi ya intaneti hasa kwa vijana wengi wa Afrika. Wateja  wa sekta hiyo wanaweza kupata huduma za kubashiri matokeo ya mpira wa miguu kwa njia ya mtandao popote walipo.

Nchi za Afrika ikiwemo Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria na Congo DRC zinashuhudia ukuaji  mkubwa wa ubashiri katika michezo na aina zingine za kamari zinazochezwa kwa kutumia simu za mkononi za kawaida au zile zenye uwezo wa kupata intaneti.

‘Sport betting’ hufanyika kwa mtu kubashiri matokeo ya mechi ya mpira inayochezwa siku husika, ikiwa atabashiri/ atatabiri na timu fulani ikashinda dhidi ya nyingine hupata kiasi fulani cha fedha.

Ubashiri huo ambao hufanyika hasa kwenye ligi za mpira wa Ulaya na Ligi ya ndani (Vodacom Premier League), imekuwa ni sehemu yenye mzunguko mkubwa wa pesa. Asilimia kubwa ya ubashiri huo hufanyika kwa kutumia simu ambapo tafiti mbalimbali zinaeleza kuwa majukwaa ya simu yanaibukia kuwa njia ya haraka ya kucheza kamali za mitandaoni.

Mtafiti kutoka Chuo Kikuu cha Colorado cha nchini Marekani, Victor Odundo Owuor anaeleza katika moja ya makala zake kuwa ukijumuisha sekta ya kamali ya Kenya, Nigeria na Afrika Kusini inaweza kufikia Dola za Marekani bilioni 37 kwa mwaka 2018 pekee.

Anasema kuwa  Kenya pekee inakadiriwa kuwa watu milioni 2 wanajihusisha moja kwa moja kwenye ubashiri wa matokeo ya mechi za mpira kwa njia ya simu. Wanaoshiriki zaidi ni vijana wasio na ajira ambao wanaamini kuwa ubashiri ni njia ya haraka kupata fedha na kuondokana na umasikini.

Kwa mukta huo, ni rahisi kuwaona vijana wakigombania fursa ya kubashiri matokeo ya ligi za mpira kwasababu sh. 1000 inaweza kuzalisha sh. 5000 na zaidi.

Inaelezwa kuwa nchini Nigeria, watu milioni 60 walio katika umri wa miaka kati ya 18 na 40 hutumia karibu Dola 5 (zaidi ya Tsh.100,00 ) kwenye ubashiri kila siku. Wengi wao hawana ajira na wanaishi kwenye umasikini wa kiwango cha juu. Fedha wanayoipata hutumia kujikimu kwa maisha ya kila siku.

 

Athari za ubashiri wa mpira wa miguu

Utafiti uliofanywa nchini Kenya umeonyesha kuwa watu ambao wanajihusisha zaidi kwenye ubashiri wa matokeo ya mpira wa miguu mtandaoni, wanafanya hivyo licha ya kufahamu kuwa kuna hatari mbele yao.

Hatari mojawapo ni kwamba vijana hao hukopa fedha ili wakabashiri matokeo ya mpira wa ligi. Hali hiyo huwaingiza katika mzunguko mkubwa madeni.  Kadiri deni linapokuwa kubwa humuweka kijana kwenye wakati mgumu na kufanya maamuzi yanayoweza kugharimu uhai wake.

Licha ya kuwepo sheria zinazosimamia michezo ya bahati nasibu, lakini ubashiri umetawala akili za vijana na kuwafanya kuwa walevi (addictive). Wataalamu wa saikolojia wanahofia kuwa siku zijazo ubashiri utakuwa miongoni mwa sababu kubwa za magonjwa ya akili miongoni mwa vijana wengi wa Tanzania.

Mtafiti Owuor, anaeleza kuwa licha ubashiri au kamari kuwa na athari hasi kwa vijana lakini ni miongoni mwa sekta inayochochea ukuaji wa biashara ya fedha za mtandaoni.

Anaeleza kuwa miamala inayofanyika mtandaoni ndio njia pekee ya kuzinusuru benki ambazo zinakabiliwa na gharama kubwa za uendeshaji na madeni ya mikopo.

Upande wa pili, michezo ya ubashiri na bahati nasibu zinazofanyika kwa njia ya simu zinaongeza mapato kwa serikali kupitia kodi inayokatwa kwenye miamala ya simu.

Hata hivyo, serikali za Afrika ikiwemo Tanzania zimeshauriwa kutathmini na kuwasaidia vijana ambao hawana ajira ili kuwaepusha na madhara hasi ya ubashiri wa mtandaoni wa mpira wa miguu.

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Maxence awataka vijana kuchangamkia fursa za mtandao ya kijamii

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Mkurugenzi Mtendaji wa JamiiForums, Maxence Melo amesema licha ya kuwepo kwa sheria zinazoonekana kuminya uhuru wa mitandao ya kijamii, bado vijana wana nafasi kubwa ya kufaidika na fursa mbalimbali zilizopo kwenye teknolojia hiyo inayokuwa kwa kasi duniani.

Akizungumza mwishoni mwa wiki katika semina iliyofanyika Tume ya Sayansi na Teknolojia Tanzania (COSTECH) jijini Dar es Salaam, Melo alisema kuna fursa nyingi ambazo zikitumika vizuri zinaweza kubadilisha maisha ya vijana ambao wanatumia mitandao ya kijamii kwasababu Tanzania iko kwenye ramani ya dunia.

“Fursa ni kwamba mitandao imetufungua sana kwa kiwango ambacho Tanzania imeiingia kwenye ramani. Kuna vitu vingi vinatokea ambavyo tunaweza kuvifanya ni innovation (uvumbuzi). Lazima tutengeneze innovation ambazo zinaweza kutusaidia.” amesema Melo.

Amesema fursa ya kwanza ni ya miamala ya fedha inayofanyika kwa njia ya mtandao ambayo inawezeshwa na intaneti ambapo kijana anaweza kupata fedha popote alipo kwaajili ya shughuli zake za kijamii au kiuchumi na kuokoa muda wa kwenda benki au kwenye mashine za kutolea fedha (ATM Machine).

“Miamala mnayoifanya kwa M-pesa isingewezekana bila kuwa na mtandao wa intaneti. Inaweza kufanyika lakini ingeweza kufanya kama inavyofanyika bila mtandao wa intaneti. Intaneti ikikata kabisa hapa nchini, mabenki hayatafanya kazi kwa ufanisi kama ambavyo yanafanya kwa sasa,” amesema Melo.

Amebainisha kuwa fursa nyingine ujio wa sarafu ya digitali (Cryptocurrency) inayowawezesha vijana kufanya biashara ya mtandao ikiwemo kuweka dhamana, kununua hisa. Cryptocurrency ni sarafu iliyojificha ambayo huwezi kuiona kwa macho lakini unaweza kuitumia kwa matumizi ya kila siku.

“Hata kwenye mitandao mnaona kuna kitu kinakuja kinaitwa “Cryptocurrency” ni fursa. Fursa zinaweza kuwa zimegawanyika; fursa ya kupigwa au fursa ya kufanya kihalali kwasababu hata humo katikati wameingia wapigaji. Tumejaribu kuangalia wale wanaosema kwenye “cryptocurrency” na uhalisia wake na jinsi ya kwenda mbele.” Amefafanua Melo.

Mkurugenzi wa Kampuni ya Kingdom Heritage, Tunu  Bashemela akizungumza wakati wa semina hiyo iliyofanyika hivi karibuni jijini Dar es Salaam.

 

Hata hivyo, amewataka vijana kuwa makini na biashara za mtandaoni ili kuepuka matapeli ambao wanatumia teknolojia ya mitandao vibaya, “Ni vema mnapokuwa mnafanya hayo mambo mkajua kabisa kupigwa ni rahisi.”

Ameongeza kuwa mitandao inaweza kuwa njia nzuri ya kuimarisha Demokrasia ya vyama vingi ambapo wananchi wanapewa uhuru wa kuchagua kiongozi wanayemtaka kwa kutumia teknolojia rahisi ambayo itaepusha vurugu za kisiasa na kuongeza ajira kwa vijana.

“Kwa ambao mnafuatilia nchi moja ya kiafrika imetumia ‘Cryptography’ (maandiko ya mficho) kwaajili ya uchaguzi. Inasaidia kuepusha haya mambo ya kusema kwamba si tumeibia kura, kwahiyo kwa yeyote atakayetengeneza teknolojia hiyo ataisaidia Tume ya Uchaguzi, vyama vya siasa kusimamia uchaguzi. Kila kitu kiko wazi aliyeshinda kashinda kihalali. ‘Cryptography’ ndio mustakabali wa kizazi hichi tulichonacho.” Amesema Melo.

Lakini amesema ujio wa Sheria ya Maudhui ya Mtandaoni ya mwaka 2015 na Kanuni zake za mwaka 2018 zimeminya utendaji wa mitandao hasa kwa vijana wanaoendesha majukwaa, blogu hata redio na runinga za mtandaoni kwasababu sio sehemu salama kwa wafanyabiashara na makampuni kutangaza bidhaa au huduma zao.

“Sheria na kanuni zinazotengenezwa na mamlaka hapa niwaambie ukweli eneo hilo sio salama tena. Ninaweza kukuambia wekeza lakini halilipi. Tangu kuingia kwa kanuni za maudhui mtandaoni makampuni yameondoa matangazo”, amesema Melo.

           Washiriki wa semina ya Usalama Mtandaoni wakimsikiliza mmoja wa wachangiaji

 

Kwa upande wake, Mtaalamu wa Usalama Mtandaoni kutoka kampuni ya Kabolik, Robert Matafu amesema wakati vijana wanatumia fursa za mtandaoni ni muhimu pia wafikirie kujihakikishia usalama wao binafsi na miradi yao.

“Teknolojia ni njia inayokusaidia kurahisisha kazi. Ukitaka kuwa salama ni muhimu ukajenga mfumo thabiti utakaokulinda na hatari zote. Kwasababu kwenye mtandao kunapatikana kila taarifa hata jina lako, makampuni na mashirika ni muhimu kuwa nasera na miongozo “ amesema Matafu.

Amesema ili kujihakikishia usalama zaidi ni kuweka neno la siri (password) kwenye simu na kompyuta ili kutokuruhusu mtu yeyote asiyehusika kuingilia mawasiliano au shughuli zako.

Naye, Dkt. Philip Filikunjombe kutoka Mamlaka ya Mawasiliano Tanzania (TCRA) amesema watumiaji wa mitandao ya kijamii wanatakiwa kuzisoma na kuzielewa sheria na kanuni za Makosa ya mtandao ili kuepuka kuingia kwenye matatizo yasiyo ya lazima.

Amebainisha kuwa vijana wakifahamu sharia itawasaidia kufahamu mambo halali na haramu kwenye mitandao na kuwasaidia kuendeleza miradi itakayowanufaisha kiuchumi na kijamii.

Awali akizungumza katika semina hiyo, Mkurugenzi wa Kampuni ya Kingdom Heritage,  Tunu  Bashemela alisema wao kwa sehemu yao wanaunga mkono juhudi za serikali na wadau wa mitandao ya kijamii katika kutoa elimu kwa umma hasa vijana ili kuwahakikishia usalama wanapotumia teknolojia ya mtandao.

“Ili kujua matumizi sahihi na salama vijana mliopo hapa lazima mtambue kuwa sheria ya makosa ya uhalifu wa kimtandao ipo na inafanya kazi lazima tuheshimu na kutii vitu inavyotuzuia kufanya bali tutumie mitandao kwa namna za ubunifu zenye kutuletea fedha na kujiingizia kipato,” alisema Bashemela.

Kampuni ya Kingdom Heritage ni mdau muhimu katika kukuza teknolojia nchini, imekuwa ikiandaa semina na mafunzo mbalimbali yanayolenga kukuza uelewa na ujuzi wa teknolojia ya mawasiliano  kwa jamii ya vijana.

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Mitandao ya Kijamii inavyowanyima usingizi viongozi Afrika Mashariki

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Licha matumizi ya intaneti kuongezeka katika ukanda wa Afrika Mashariki, watumiaji wa mitandao ya kijamii hawatafaidika na huduma hiyo kutokana vikwazo vya kisheria vilivyowekwa na serikali za nchi zao.

Ripoti ya Mamlaka ya Mawasiliano Tanzania (TCRA) ya mpaka Desemba 2017 imeonesha kuwa idadi ya watumiaji wa intaneti imeongezeka kufikia watu milioni 23 ambayo ni sawa na asilimia 45 ya Watanzania wote. Kwa upande wa Uganda matumizi hayo yamefikia asilimia 22.

Hivi karibuni marais wa nchi za Uganda, Yoweri Museveni na Tanzania, John Magufuli wamenukuliwa wakitoa kauli ambazo zinaashiria kuminya uhuru wa kujieleza na kutoa maoni unaofanywa na watumiaji wa majukwaa na mitandao ya kijamii.

Kwa nyakati tofauti marais hao wawili ambao ni sehemu ya Jumuiya ya Afrika Mashariki wamekuwa wakidai kuwa uhuru wa watu umevuka mipaka na kuna haja ya kudhibiti matumizi ya mitandao ya kijamii ili kuhakikisha usalama wa mataifa yao.

Lakini wachambuzi wa masuala ya kisiasa wanasema udhibiti huo wa mitandao ni kuwanyamazisha wananchi ambao wamekuwa na muamko wa kuhoji, kukosoa mwenendo wa viongozi wa serikali ambao wanapaswa kuwajibika kwa wapiga kura kwa kutoa huduma bora za kijamii.

Rais Yoweri Museveni (kushoto)  akiwa na rais John Magufuli (kulia) katika moja ya shughuli za kiserikali jijini Arusha

 

Nini kinaendelea Uganda…

Serikali ya Uganda imesema kuanzia Julai mwaka huu itawatoza kodi ya sh. 200 za Uganda wateja wa kampuni za simu wanaotumia mitandao ya kijamii ya WhatsApp, Viber, Twitter na Skype ili kukabiliana na ‘umbea’ unaoendelea katika mitandao hiyo.

Hatua hiyo imekuja baada ya rais Yoweri Mseveni kuiandikia barua ofisi ya Hazina, Machi, 2018 akielezea jinsi mijadala isiyo na tija kama ‘umbea’ inavyolikosesha taifa lake mapato na muda wa uzalishaji mali.

Ikiwa ni sehemu ya kodi mpya, makampuni ya simu yanayotoa huduma ya vifurushi vya intaneti yatawajibika kuwa na takwimu za wateja wao  wanaotumia intaneti ili kuhakikisha kila mtumiaji analipa  kodi ya ongezeko la thamani.

Waziri wa Fedha wa nchi hiyo, Matia Kasaija tayari ameanza mchakato wa kuifanyia marekebisho Sheria ya Kodi ya mwaka 2014 na mswada umepelekwa bungeni kwa mapitio baada ya kupitishwa na Baraza la Mawaziri.

Akihojiwa na wanahabari, Waziri Kasaija alisema kodi itakayotozwa kwa watumiaji wa mitandao ya kijamii itasaidia kuimarisha usalama wa taifa na kuongeza uzalishaji wa umeme. “Kodi hii itasaidia kuimarisha usalama wa nchi na kuongeza umeme ambao nyinyi watu mtatumia kufurahia zaidi mitandao ya kijamii.”

Kawaida, watumiaji wa mitandao ya kijamii hununua vifurushi vya intaneti kupitia simu lakini bado haijafahamika wazi jinsi serikali itakavyokata kodi hiyo kwa watumiaji hao au namna watakavyoweza kujua watu walioingia kwenye mitandao kama Facebook na Twitter. Kimsingi kila mtu mwenye simu ya mkononi inayotumia intaneti atatozwa kodi.

Mabadiliko hayo yamewashangaza watu wengi hasa watumiaji wa teknolojia ya mawasiliano ikizingatiwa kuwa  upatikanaji wa intaneti nchini humo ni wa asilimia 22 na ziko juhudi mbalimbali za kukuza teknolojia ya mawasiliano.

Wengine wakihitimisha kuwa ni mkakati wa kuwanyamazisha wakosoaji wa rais Museveni ambaye anakusudia kufanya mabadiliko ya sheria ili kumruhusu kugombea tena nafasi ya urais baada ya muda wake wa kukaa madarakani kumalizika.

Siyo mara ya kwanza kwa viongozi wa Uganda kuweka mikakati ya kisheria inayokusudia kudhibiti uhuru wa kujieleza. Februari, 2016 wakati wa uchaguzi mkuus, serikali ilizima mitandao ya Facebook na Twitter sambamba kuzuia huduma za kifedha kwa njia ya mtandao. Baada ya uchaguzi mitandao iliendelea kufanya kazi kama kawaida.

Miezi michache baadaye serikali ilinunu mtambo kubaini maudhui ya picha za ngono (pornography detecting machine) yenye thamani ya Dola za Marekani 88,000 kwa lengo la kulinda maadili na tunu za taifa.

June mwaka jana, Kituo cha Habari cha Uganda kilitangaza kuwa kimeanzisha kitengo maalum cha kupitia wasifu wa watumiaji wa mitandao ya kijamii ili kubaini mabandiko yenye maudhui ya ukosoaji. Mwezi uliofuata wa Julai, gazeti la Daily Monitor liliripoti kuwa serikali imeomba usaidizi kutoka China katika utekelezaji wa mpango kazi wa usalama mtandaoni ambao unalenga kusimamia na kuzuia matumizi mabaya ya mitandao ya kijamii.

 

Tanzania nayo haiko nyuma

Hatua inazochukua Uganda hazitofautiani sana na za Tanzania. Tumesikia matamko na kauli mbalimbali za viongozi wa serikali wakilalamikia uhuru wa uliovuka mipaka wa mitandao ya kijamii.

Aprili 21, mwaka huu, rais John Magufuli alijitokeza kwenye runinga wakati akiwaapisha Majaji 10 wa mahakama, ambapo alisema uhuru wa watumiaji wa mitandao kijamii umevuka mipaka na watu wanatumia uhuru huo kupotosha baadhi ya mambo yanayofanywa na serikali yake.

“Kuna ugonjwa tumeupata Tanzania wa kufikiri kila kinachoandikwa kwenye mitandao ni cha ukweli. Sasa sifahamu huu ugonjwa umetoka wapi? Lakini ni kwasababu hii mitandao hatuicontrol (hatuisimamii) sisi, wako huko wenye mitandao yao, wao interest (maslahi) yao ni kutengeneza biashara hawajali madhara mtakayoyapata.” Alinukuliwa rais Magufuli.

Kauli ya rais imekuja wakati kukiwa na mjadala mpana wa Ripoti ya Mdhibiti na Mkaguzi Mkuu wa Hesabu za serikali ya mwaka 2017 ambayo inaonyesha kuwa trilioni 1.5 hazijulikani zimetumikaje.

Licha ya rais kukerwa na uhuru wa kujieleza na kutoa maoni ambao unatambulika na katiba ya nchi na mikataba ya kimataifa, Tanzania ilipitisha Sheria ya Maudhui ya Mtandaoni ya Mwaka 2015 ambayo imewatia hatiani baadhi ya watu kwa makosa mbalimbali ikiwemo ‘uchochezi’.

Ili kuipa nguvu sheria hiyo, mapema mwaka huu serikali imepitisha Kanuni Mpya za Maudhui ya Mtandaoni za mwaka 2018 ambapo katika kifungu cha 4 kinawataka wamiliki wa blogu, tovuti, majukwaa, radio na runinga za mtandaoni kujisajili ili wapate leseni za kuendesha shughuli zao.

Waliopewa mamlaka ya kusimamia maudhui ya mtandaoni ambao ni Mamlaka ya Mawasiliano Tanzania (TCRA) watakuwa na uwezo wa kuwalazimisha wamiliki wa blogu au tovuti kuondoa maudhui yanayodhaniwa kuwa hayafai ndani ya saa 12 na kama hawajatimiza maagizo hayo wanaweza kulipa fidia isiyopungua milioni tano  au kifungo kisichopungua mwaka mmoja jela.

Akizungumza Septemba 28, 2016 wakati wa uzinduzi wa ndege mbili aina ya Bombadier Q400 katika uwanja wa ndege wa kimataifa wa Julius Nyerere, rais Magufuli alinukuliwa akisema, “Natamani siku moja malaika washuke waizime hii mitandao yote ili baada ya mwaka mzima itakapokuja kufukunga wakute sisi tumeisha tengeneza Tanzania yetu mpya.”

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