The Chanzo’s Morning Briefing – June 17, 2021

The release of Uamsho clerics and IPTL boss Harbinder Seth as well as the postponement of Hajj pilgrimage were among the top stories reported on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. 
The Chanzo Reporter17 June 20214 min

Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories in Tanzania which were reported on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

Uamsho clerics out of prison after nine years of struggle for justice

Friends of justice breathed a sigh of relief yesterday after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mr Sylivester Anthony Mwakitalu announced that he has dropped all the charges against the 36 Muslim clerics who were facing terrorism charges at the High Court of Tanzania. The clerics, who are under the Association for Islamic Mobilisation and Propagation, or Uamsho as the organisation is popularly known in Kiswahili, were arrested in 2012 in Zanzibar after they were accused of terrorism and were later transferred to Tanzania Mainland where they have been in remand prison until Tuesday evening.

At least two of the clerics have been confirmed out of prisons and they have gone to their homes to join their families and loved ones. These are Sheikh Farid Hadi Ahmed and Sheikh Mselem Ali Mselem, the most famous individuals in the case that has dragged on for years. But Mr Mwakitalu told The Citizen newspaper yesterday that he had dropped charges against all the 36 clerics and all that is left is a matter of procedure on how to release them. “It’s true they have been set free,” the paper quoted Mr Mwakitalu as saying. “I have dropped all the charges against them, now the issue is under the Prison’s procedures but I have dropped all the charges.”

Speaking with journalists in Zanzibar shortly after being freed, Sheikh Mselem said that he and his colleagues were optimistic that one day they’d be freed because that was what the senior prison officials were telling them on a regular basis. “We were receiving some encouraging news while in prison,” said Sheikh Mselem, a very popular Muslim cleric in Zanzibar. “Prison’s officials used to assure us that we would be freed, urging us to be polite while out of prison.”

Mr Juma Nassor, who was leading the team of defence lawyers and advocates, told Millard Ayo yesterday that their clients started to be free on the night of June 15, 2021. Mr Nassor said that he’s expecting his team to be officially updated on the government’s decision to release their clients before the court. “You know, an accused who has already been brought to court is not sent to remand prison except with the court order nor is she released from remand prison except with the court order,” said Mr Nassor. He said if the clerics were released from remand prison without a court order it will be “a precedent of its own which will cause a huge debate in the [country’s] legal fraternity.”

No Hajj this year for foreigners

Muft of Tanzania Sheikh Abubakar Zubeir Bin Ally yesterday urged Tanzanians who are preparing for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage to stop doing so for there will be no Hajj for foreigners this year. In a press conference in Dar es Salaam, Sheikh Zubeir said: “Based on the report I received from Tanzania’s acting ambassador to Saudi Arabia Abdul-Aziz Hamad Al-Azmy, there will be no Hajj this year. This year’s Hajj will be performed by Saudi Arabia’s residents only, both citizens and foreigners who are in the country. This is due to the global pandemic of COVID-19.”

Yesterday’s announcement from Sheikh Zubeir came only four days after the Saudi Arabia government announced on June 12, 2021, that this year’s pilgrimage will be limited to 60,000 citizens and residents only. “In light of what the whole world is witnessing with the coronavirus pandemic … and the emergence of new variants, the relevant authorities have continued to monitor the global health situation,” Al Jazeera news network quoted Saudi Arabia’s ministry of Hajj as saying.

Hajj, a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it, is a major source of income for the Saudi government.

IPTL’s Harbinder Seth freed after agreeing to pay Sh26 billion

Harbinder Seth Singh, who is the owner of Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL), was yesterday ordered to pay Sh26 billion in compensation by the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court after he was found guilty of fraudulently obtaining money. The Chief Resident Magistrate of the Court Huruma Shaidi made the decision when the case of Economic Sabotage No. 27/2017 was summoned to court for agreement.

Harbinder Seth Singh was facing an economic crimes case together with a businessman James Rugemarila who together have been in remand prison since 2017. In 2019, Mr Seth wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to negotiate his release under the plea bargain arrangement.

International Day of the African Child 2021 celebration

The world marked the International Day of the African Child yesterday which is commemorated every June 16th of every year. Celebrated since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the day honours those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day. It also raises awareness on the continuing need for improvement of the education provided to African children. You can read The Chanzo’s analysis on the situation of children’s welfare in Tanzania here or, alternatively, you can have a look at our infographic which does the same here.

Thanks for reading this briefing, just letting you know that The Chanzo also receives stories and opinions from independent writers and analysts for publication. So if you want to have your say on our platform, or you have any suggestion on how we can improve this briefing, please contact our editors at editor@thechanzo.com for further inquiries. 

The Chanzo Reporter

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