Tanzania Citizens have noticed that they are unable to send SMSs bearing the name “Tundu Lissu” through the main mobile phone providers, Vodacom and Airtel.
On the same breath, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has issued a directive temporarily suspending bulk messaging and bulk voice calling services.
In the directive, the TCRA said that bulk SMSs might have a negative impact on the forthcoming general elections and had therefore suspended the services between October 24th and November 11th 2020. Only utility bulk messaging such as e-government and financial services were exempted.
The directive was shared after citizens noticed that all SMSSs bearing the name Tundu Lissu had been blacklisted and as such, could not be delivered.
Robert Amsterdam, an International Lawyer, reported on Twitter that the two major mobile phone providers in Tanzania, Vodacom and Airtel, have been instructed to block any message bearing the name “Tundu Lissu”. Since yesterday, anybody who has sent a message with Tundu’s name got a notification that it could not be delivered.
Suphian Juma @SuphianJuma tweeted:
“I’m a @VodacomTanzania user, around 8.48am, I tried to send messages with the words Tundu Lissu and Maalim Seif (Presidential Candidates, Tanzania) to my dear friends. They were rejected.”
Maria Sarungi Tsehai, a communications expert and founder of #ChangeTanzania said she had received the directive from the TCRA, however, she said the suspension of bulk SMSs could not be used as a justification for blacklisting a single user, Tundu Lissu.
Sarungi pointed out that bulk SMS users could easily block the texts by themselves and that in this case, only Tundu Lissu’s name had been blocked from all SMSs.
Several Tanzanian mobile subscribers went ahead to send SMSs to verify the allegations and many confirmed it to be true. Also blocked are texts bearing the party name “Chadema”