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The Chanzo’s Morning Briefing – June 26, 2021

In our briefing, today: Catholic bishops plead for genuine PPPs; Big win for CHADEMA in case over sedition, illegal assembly; and Lissu launches a new book in Nairobi.

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Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Friday, June 25, 2021.

Catholic bishops plead for genuine PPPs

The President of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC), an assembly of Catholic bishops in Tanzania, Bishop Gervas Nyaisonga urged President Samia Suluhu Hassan yesterday to take a close look at the original agreement between the government and religious institutions and see how her administration can improve Tanzania’s policies governing public-private partnerships (PPPs) particularly in the area of social services provision.

Speaking during a meeting between the Catholic bishops and President Samia on Friday in Kurasini, Dar es Salaam, Bishop Nyaisonga said that starting from 2016, the government has undertaken various policy changes in the area of social services provision, such as education and health. Most of these policies aimed at giving the government the monopoly of providing these basic services, something which Bishop Nyaisonga said had serious undesirable effects to the church-run institutions which were established specifically for the purpose of helping the government in providing social services to Tanzanians, like higher learning institutions and hospitals.

“Honorable President, in the health sector [for instance], there has emerged a competition in our country between public sector and private sector instead of [the two] working cooperatively for the benefits of both sectors,” said Bishop Nyaisonga. “The results of this competition is the weakening of our hospitals while still there is a great demand for our services in many areas of our country. Honorable President, we urge your government to review the policy on cooperation between religious institutions and the government so that together we aim at solving people’s problems.”

Bishop Nyaisonga said the policies introduced in the past four years have led to serious financial as well as other resources loss that the church had invested in including human resources. “Its impacts have been severe at institutional levels and have weakened services provision as well as workers’ welfare and the government to fail to get the taxes it deserves from the church on time,” said Bishop Nyaisonga. He pleaded also with Samia’s administration to exempt faith-based organisations some taxes like Skill Development Levy (SDL), saying that doing so will enable the organisations to expand their scope of services provision. Bishop Nyaisonga also asked President Samia to intervene in the ongoing cases where the government threatens to repossess land belonging to the church.

In her speech as a guest of honor during the occasion, President Samia said that religion is a very important institution in any society which apart from upbringing people spiritually and morally religious institutions play a significant role in maintaining peace and improving people’s welfare.

Addressing the issues that Bishop Nyaisonga raised, President Samia said: “I want to assure you that because many of the issues raised here have to do with [the country’s] laws, please let me take them. I’ll go and sit down with my people and you [TEC] so that we can work these issues out and come up with solutions which both the government and the church can agree on and see how we can proceed with the provision of these services without the presence of these challenges.”

President Samia also reiterated his call on the importance of taking precautions against the coronavirus pandemic, saying that Tanzania already has people contracted with the deadly virus. On his part, Bishop Nyaisonga applauded the reforms that President Samia is undertaking especially in the area of fighting COVID-19 as well as promoting justice in the country, urging her to improve rule of law and other democratic institutions in Tanzania, calling them “the foundation of good governance.”

Big win for CHADEMA in case over sedition, illegal assembly

The High Court of Tanzania yesterday overturned the ruling by the Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court that ordered nine leaders of the opposition party CHADEMA, including its national chairperson Freeman Mbowe, to pay a total of Sh350 million in fine or serve five months in prison after convicting them of sedition and organizing an illegal demonstration. A High Court judge Irvin Mgeta pronounced the lower court’s decision null and void and ordered the government to return the money paid by the nine leaders as a fine.

Mr Mbowe and eight other CHADEMA leaders were found guilty on 12 out of 13 charges relating to demonstrations held in February 2018 that the leaders supposedly organized. The ‘demonstrations’ took place on February 16, 2018, when CHADEMA leaders marched to the office of Kinondoni District Executive Director to question why CHADEMA’s polling agents were barred from entering various polling stations established for a parliamentary by-election which would take place in the next day, Saturday, February 7, 2018, involving CHADEMA’s Salum Mwalimu and the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi’s (CCM) Maulid Mtulya. Police tried to block the marching, firing live bullets to disperse people, leading to the death of a first-year student at the National Institute of Transport (NIT) Aquilina Akwilini Baftaha who was on a public commuter bus (daladala) en route from the NIT hostels in Mabibo to Makumbusho area.

Following the events of February 16, 2018, the government of Tanzania brought a case against the nine leaders, accusing them of f conspiring to commit an offence and hold unlawful assembly between February 1 to 16, 2018. In March 10, 2020, Principal Resident Magistrate Thomas Simba said that having seen the evidence presented to him in videotapes format, he was convinced that “the evidence is enough to confirm that there was unlawful assembly” and went ahead to convict the opposition leaders. But because the leaders were unable to immediately pay the required fines, the nine were sent to Segerea prison in Dar-es-Salaam on March 10, 2020 and were freed only thanks to online fundraising campaign launched by CHADEMA that raised the necessary funds for the leaders to be freed.

Following the yesterday’s ruling, here’s what CHADEMA Secretary-General John Mnyika wrote in his Twitter timeline: “Tanzanians, you are the ones who contributed the fine that took us out of prisons, we continue to receive your opinions after the appeal victory. We are in the consultation process and we’ll update you on the directive [that we will come up with].”

Lissu launches a new book in Nairobi

Tundu Lissu, CHADEMA deputy national chairperson (Tanzania Mainland) and the party’s flag bearer in the Tanzania’s general elections of October 2020, yesterday launched his new book in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. Titled Remaining in the ShadowsParliament and Accountability in East Africa, the book addresses the failures of legislative bodies in the East African Community particularly in meeting the expectations of the region’s people with the exception of Kenya.

The book, the second by the former Tanganyika Law Society president, after the one he published in 2002 titled In Gold We Trust: The Political Economy of Law, Human Rights and the Environment in Tanzania’s Mining Industry, talks about the histories of parliaments in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

Lissu said during an interview with the US-based podcast America Swahili News that he wanted to launch the 300+-page book in Arusha where the EAC is headquartered but he could not do so because he doesn’t think he’d be safe in Tanzania and therefore he decided to launch it in Kenya.

Mr Lissu survived an assassination attack on September 7, 2017, and he has been living in Belgium ever since.

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