Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here once again with all the big stories that broke in Tanzania on Thursday, July 22, 2021.
Now police charge Mbowe with terrorism
The Tanzania Police Force is holding CHADEMA national chairperson Mr Freeman Mbowe over terrorism charges with the law enforcement agency spokesperson David Misime telling reporters in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the opposition figure and six other unnamed people were implicated in conspiracies aimed at assassinating some government’s leaders.
Thursday’s development came after almost forty-three hours since the police invaded the Kingdom Hotel in Mwanza where Mr Mbowe had lodged and arrested him together with several other CHADEMA senior leaders. Mr Mbowe was arrested ahead of the party’s New Constitution conference that was to take place on Wednesday in Mwanza before the police interrupted it.
After hours of uncertainty into the whereabouts of Mr Mbowe, police showed up with him at his house in Mikocheni, Dar es Salaam for searching, seizing a laptop and tablets belonging to Mr Mbowe’s children. According to CHADEMA, the exercise was undertaken for almost two and half hours before the police took Mr Mbowe with them to the Dar es Salaam Central Police around 9 PM on Wednesday.
“Freeman Mbowe knew that he was facing [terrorism] charges and that at any time he would be summoned to police for other legal actions as soon as investigation into the charges was finalized,” SACP Misime said yesterday. He added that the arrest had nothing to do with the New Constitution conference in Mwanza, accusing Mr Mbowe of going to Mwanza to frame his arrest as connected to his political activities.
“[The police] would like the public to know that CHADEMA chairperson Freeman Mbowe is being held by the police as he’s accused of taking part in the conspiracies of committing terrorist attacks, including assassinating government’s leaders, whereby his six accomplices have already been brought before the court because the investigation into their charges has been finalized,” clarified Misime.
But the police spokesperson neither mentioned the names of the six other accomplices nor did he talk about other CHADEMA leaders and other pro-democracy activists who were arrested on Wednesday together with Mr Mbowe. These include CHADEMA Youth Council (BAVICHA) national chairperson John Pambalu and former Tarime Rural MP (CHADEMA) Mr John Heche among others.
It is also not clear when exactly were these charges brought against Mr Mbowe. In November 2020, police arrested and shortly detained Mr Mbowe before releasing him in connection to the protests that CHADEMA and ACT-Wazalendo jointly called to pressurize the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to organize fresh elections, calling the results that gave the then Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) candidate in the October elections John Magufuli victory “rigged.”
Though the then Dar es Salaam Special Zone Commander Lazaro Mambosasa threatened to charge Mr Mbowe with terrorism for organizing the protests that never took place, it is not clear if these charges were officially brought against him. Terrorism is one of the non-bailable charges according to Tanzania’s laws but since November 2020 Mr Mbowe has been free without even attending court cases.
United States congresswoman Karen Bass, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, said yesterday that Mr Mbowe’s arrest minimizes the hope that President Samia Suluhu Hassan was “leading Tanzania forward to a more democratic society.” In a statement, Ms Bass added: “The Tanzanian authorities must end the escalating crackdown on opposition parties and leaders, and the arbitrary arrests and detentions show the disregard for the rule of law, human rights, and the rights to freedom of expression and association.”
Samia holds talks with former UK PM Tony Blair
President Samia Suluhu Hassan yesterday met and held talks with the former United Kingdom Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair at the State House in Dar es Salaam whereby the two discussed ways through which Tanzania and Mr Blair’s Tony Blair Institute for Global Change can work together in the areas of technology, energy, agriculture and COVID-19 as part of supporting the Samia Administration’s efforts to improve the lives of Tanzanians.
Founded in 2016 by Mr Blair who serves as its Executive Chairperson, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change is a London-based non-profit company whose mission is to “support political leaders and governments to build open, inclusive and prosperous societies in a globalised world” by “developing policy and advising governments,” according to the think-tank’s website.
Currently, the Tony Blair Institute works with six African countries of Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Togo on a range of projects including improving communications systems; policy advice and performance management; agricultural production; power generation; and improving public services.
There is no updated information on where the Institute gets its funding but according to a 2018 report by UK’s Financial Times it has received funding from governments, including the U.S. Department of States, the Canadian government and some African governments as well as from foundations such as the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, a charity set up by a Ukrainian billionaire.
Anna Mghwira dies aged 62
Tanzania yesterday lost one of its most celebrated women politicians following a sudden and shocking death of Ms Anna Mghwira that took place Thursday, July 22, at the Mount Meru Regional Referral Hospital in Arusha where she was receiving treatment for an undisclosed disease.
The 62-year-old presidential candidate in the 2015 general election through the ticket of opposition ACT-Wazalendo served as Kilimanjaro regional commissioner from June 03, 2017, when she was appointed to the post by the late president John Magufuli until May 2021 when President Samia Suluhu Hassan replaced her with Mr Stephen Kigaigai.
In her condolence message yesterday, the Head of State described Ms Mghwira as a “hard worker, brave and a fighter for Tanzania’s development, particularly women’s development.” President Samia said the news of the passing of the former national chairperson of the opposition ACT-Wazalendo came to her “with shock and disappointment.”
Born on January 23, 1959, in Singida, Tanzania’s central region, Ms Anna Mghwira held a Master’s Degree in Law (LLM) obtained from Essex University in England in 2000. She was an experienced leader who have worked for both international and local organisations dealing with women’s empowerment, community development and refugees.
ACT-Wazalendo Secretary-General Mr Ado Shaibu said in a Twitter post yesterday that he knew Ms Mghwira as he was part of her campaign team in 2015, particularly in the area of speechwriting. “I have received with sadness the news of her passing,” Mr Shaibu wrote. “May God rests her soul in peace.”
Mghwira’s political journey goes as far back as pre-independence Tanzania when she was a member of the Tanganyika African National Union’s (TANU) Youth League. She went on to become a member of opposition parties CHADEMA and ACT-Wazalendo before she rejoined the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) in December 2017.
TZ registers 682 COVID-19 cases, bans ‘unnecessary’ gatherings
Minister of Health Dr Dorothy Gwajima said yesterday that as of Thursday, July 22, 2021, Tanzania had recorded a total of 682 cases of COVID-19 across the country, announcing a ban on all “unnecessary” gatherings as authorities intensify efforts to fight the killer disease.
In a statement released by her ministry yesterday, Dr Gwajima said that “people were dying” of COVID-19 though she did not say how many. Still, the minister said that doctors at various health centres that treat COVID-19 patients are struggling around the clock to prevent more deaths associated with the disease from happening.
“As part of the government’s efforts to prevent the spread of the disease, I pronounce that starting [yesterday], July 22, 2021, I have banned all unnecessary gatherings,” said Dr Gwajima in a statement. “As for those which are necessary, sufficient cautionary measures should be taken [against COVID-19] without affecting national activities as well as the economy.”
Dr Gwajima also urged Tanzanians to prepare for the COVID-19 vaccines that she said are already in the country, reiterating the government’s position that the shots will be provided free of charge and on a voluntary basis. The minister said more information on arrangements through which people will have access to the vaccines will be provided within the coming few days.
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