On Monday, in an interview with the BBC journalist Peter Okoche during the sidelines of a global conference for Media freedoms in London, Tanzanian Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi when asked about the whereabouts of Mr. Azory reveled that the missing journalist is dead.
“Let me tell you, when you refer to that matter, that is one of the most painful experiences that Tanzania went through. In the Rufigi area it is not only Azory who has disappeared and died.” said Kabudi.
Mr, Kabudi went ahead and said President John Magufuli’s administration which has in the past cracked down on media is now taking every measure to protect all Tanzanians.
"I want to assure you that we are now taking every measure not only in Rufigi but in other areas of Tanzania to make sure our people are safe be they journalists, be they police be they ordinary citizens,”
In a quick rejoinder on Thursday, issued through Tanzania government spokesman Hassan Abbasi, Kabudi, however, denied that the journalist was dead.
“The reference I made on Azory Gwanda contextually did not mean that Azory Gwanda is confirmed dead. To date, the government of Tanzania has no confirmation on whether Azory is dead or alive,” the spokesman quoted Kabudi as saying.
Gwanda went missing on November 21, 2017, after investigating mysterious killings and disappearances in his community. Promises by the Tanzanian government to investigate his disappearance has not been forthcoming.
Following Kabudi’s revelation, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has demanded a “detailed public account of the fate” of the freelancer.
“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. The government must immediately share publicly all information it has about Gwanda’s fate.” CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney from New York said.
Azory Gwanda, was a freelance journalist in Tanzania. Gwanda’s reporting chronicled bizarre and sometimes grisly murders and abductions, including local government officials and police, in Tanzania’s Coast Region of Rufigi. His work was published in the privately-owned newspapers Mwananchi and The Citizen.
Gwanda’s wife, Anna Pinoni, was one of the last people to see him before he vanished on November 21, 2017. He came to their farm in the company of unknown men in a white Toyota Land Cruiser and told her he was taking an emergency trip and would be back in a day.
He has not been seen since.