Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here once again with all the big stories that broke in Tanzania on Monday, July 19, 2021.
Will TZ drop its controversial mobile money levy?
President Samia Suluhu Hassan has directed her Minister of Finance Dr Mwigulu Nchemba and the Minister for Information and Communications Technologies Dr Faustine Ndugululile to work on people’s complaints about the recently introduced mobile money transaction levy that so far seems to have backfired.
The levy, together with that on airtime, were introduced as part of the government strategy to finance its Sh36.6 trillion budget for the 2021/2022 financial year, with a total of Sh1.65 trillion expected to be collected from them. The mobile money transaction levy became operational on July 15, 2021, following an amendment of the Finance Act, 2021. The airtime levy is expected to become operational in the following month of August.
But since it became operational, the mobile money transaction levy has generated an intensive backlash from Tanzanians across the political spectrum. The levy has been described as “extortionist” that threatens to exclude millions of people from the highly needed financial services. Not for nothing that the Head of State grasped the implications the levy would have to her administration and thus decided to intervene.
“President [Samia] has been touched by [the levy and the backlash it has caused],” Dr Nchemba, the number one defender of the levy, said during a joint press conference with Dr Ndugulile in Dar es Salaam yesterday. “She has heard the opinions of all Tanzanians [on the levy] and already she has directed us to find out ways through which these opinions can be worked on.”
The government seems to be taking seriously the reaction caused by its controversial levy. During the press conference, Dr Nchemba said that today, July 20, 2021, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa will host an extraordinary ministerial meeting on the same issue. But the government’s reaction also appears to be informed by the opinions of Tanzania’s mobile money operators.
On Monday, for example, The Citizen newspaper quoted the chairperson of Tanzania Mobile Network Operators Association (TAMNOA) Mr Hisham Hendi who revealed that millions of people, especially those in rural parts of Tanzania, had stopped using mobile money services due to rising costs. Mr Hendi, who doubles as the CEO of Vodacom Tanzania Plc, called this phenomenon “a threat” to operators’ businesses.
“Revenue has dropped drastically because consumers are not using our services as they were in the beginning. The situation is not good,” the paper quoted Mr Hendi as saying. He was speaking on behalf of other members of TAMNOA. “We believe the government will see this and take appropriate action because this tax affects business and hurts the people.”
CHADEMA rejects to honour ban on political rallies
CHADEMA national chairperson Mr Freeman Mbowe said yesterday that the party is not going to honour the ban on political rallies that President Samia Suluhu Hassan has decided against its suspension, with Mr Mbowe pointing out that the party is going to organize as many rallies as possible as Tanzania’s constitution and laws permit.
Mr Mbowe was addressing journalists in Mwanza two days after police there stopped CHADEMA Youth Wing (BAVICHA) from organizing a New Constitution conference under the pretext that political rallies were banned. Dozens of CHADEMA cadres and other pro-democracy activists were arrested in the process of preventing the internal meeting from happening, with many of them spending hours in detention before they were released.
“If the government is planning to hurt and put us behind bars then it needs to hone its plans,” noted Mr Mbowe who wore a red beret and a red t-shirt emblazoned with the New Constitution slogan. “It should prepare its weapons [and] its security organs to fight the people. We will organize political rallies according to [Tanzania’s] laws. “
Mr Mbowe said that as long as President Samia’s delays her meeting with the country’s opposition leaders CHADEMA will be forced to organize protests and demonstrations to pressure her to keep her promise. In her inaugural speech in the parliament in April this year, President Samia said she intends to meet with Tanzania’s opposition leaders “in the interest of protecting democracy.” Almost three months since the promise was made, however, the meeting between the Head of State and opposition parties has not materialized.
“It is not our intention to make it difficult for the Samia Administration to govern,” Mr Mbowe pointed out, noting that Tanzania is currently divided based on party lines and it is the responsibility of President Samia to unite her people. “Our aim is to make her administration built on the foundations of reconciliation, nation-building [and] human rights.
NEC names CCM winner in Konde parliamentary by-election
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) on Monday announced the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) candidate Sheha Mpemba Faki as the winner in the Konde, North Pemba parliamentary by-election that took place on Sunday, 18 July 2021.
Mr Faki was named the winner in the election after garnering a total of 1,796 votes against his closest opponent Mr Mohammed Said Issa from opposition ACT-Wazalendo who earned a total of 1,373 votes.
However, ACT-Wazalendo has refused to concede defeat, calling the results “cooked-up” and do not reflect the reality on the ground. According to a statement released by the party’s information and publicity secretary Salim Bimani yesterday, ACT-Wazalendo was “saddened by the injustice” in the election, saying the party’s leadership would convene an extraordinary meeting to discuss the way forward.
NEC organized the by-election following the death of Mr Khatib Said Haji in May 2021, who was the constituency’s Member of Parliament (ACT-Wazalendo). According to NEC, a total of 5,050 voters out of 6,636 registered voters showed up at polling stations to take part in the by-election on Sunday. Among the votes cast, only 30 votes were spoiled.
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