The long and short of the Magufuli miniskirt scandal

Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has denied media reports purporting that President John Pombe Magufuli banned miniskirts in the East African country.

The story was first published on January 18 by The Standard newspaper, before being picked up by other outlets. The article claimed that the president had banned miniskirts because the ‘abbreviated hemlines’ were contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS.

In a statement issued by the Ministry on Wednesday, January 20 the Tanzanian government states that while President Magufuli and his government are strong proponents of decent dressing, they had not issued any such ban.

“We have noticed with serious concern and disapproval a gross distorted report in the Kenyan ‘Standard’ newspaper purporting that H.E John Pombe Magufuli has banned the wearing of miniskirts in Tanzania,” read the statement issued on Wednesday.

“While it appreciates the enthusiastic, positive reviews of H.E President Magufuli’s performance in the Kenyan and international media, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs takes strong exception at irresponsible distortions and misreporting, such as the one on miniskirts,” the statement said.

“Unfortunately the false report appearing in the daily newspaper’s gossip page was taken to be factual and circulated widely by other outlets and social media in Kenya and beyond.”

The statement further read: “There’s no doubt that H.E President Magufuli and his government are strong proponents of decent dressing, but the Ministry wished to put it to the record straight (sic) that the President has not issued any ban on miniskirts for any reason.”

The Tanzanian government noted that, The Standard newspaper is obliged to observe responsible journalism. The daily has also been asked to set the record straight by retracting the deceptive report.

“The Ministry trusts that the distortion in question was inadvertent, not a malicious attempt to undermine the new administration in Tanzania.”

After being sworn in as Tanzania’s President on November 2015, John Pombe Magufuli has dominated the media because of his aggressive reform policies.