Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Wednesday, July 28, 2021.
TZ finally kicks off its COVID-19 vaccination program
Amidst uncertainties over whether Tanzanians will accept to receive coronavirus vaccine or not, President Samia Suluhu Hassan yesterday took the jab to mark the introduction of the government’s vaccination program in the country with the Head of State insisting on the safety of the vaccine, urging people to take it once available to them.
Tanzania has at the moment more than one million doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine thanks to a donation by the U.S. government through the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative, the global vaccine-sharing facility that the country requested to join in mid-June this year.
The government plans to inoculate at least 35 million people or 60 per cent of the population, and priority will be given to those with underlying health conditions and the elderly. The shots will be administered on a voluntary basis and they’ll be given free of charge.
“For those whose clans have not been affected by [COVID-19], they can say whatever they want [about coronavirus vaccines],” said President Samia during the function that took place on the grounds of State House in Dar es Salaam. She warned against what she called discouragement in the fight against the killer disease.
“I’m a mother of four children who depend on me,” President Samia concluded her long speech that justified why Tanzania decided to roll out a vaccination program in the country. Samia said apart from being a mother she is also a grandmother of several grandchildren.
“I’m also a wife. But above all these I’m a president and commander-in-chief of Tanzania’s armed forces,” she said with an emphasis. “I would never have presented myself to death [by getting vaccinated if it wasn’t safe to do so] knowing that I have all these responsibilities on my back. I have [decided to get vaccinated] to show leadership to people who are behind me as a president.”
CHADEMA women seek US intervention over Tanzania’s human rights situation
Members of the opposition party CHADEMA Women Wing (BAWACHA) has written to U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania Donald Wright, asking him to intervene in the “gruelling” human rights situation in Tanzania that involve the “abduction, arrest, and arbitrary detentions” of party members and leaders including its national chairperson Mr Freeman Mbowe.
In an open letter submitted at the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam yesterday, which was preceded by a rally the women organized outside the embassy, where they carried placards highlighting the country’s political situation, the BAWACHA members said that they believe “the assault on democracy” that Tanzania is currently witnessing has far-reaching consequences to democratic actors in the country but also to Tanzania-US relations.
“We are deeply concerned that police have been empowered and activated to abduct, torture, and abuse legitimate political actors,” read the open letter in part. BAWACHA’s Secretary-General Ms Catherine Ruge signed the open letter. “We ask that your Excellency [Donald Wright] sides with the people of Tanzania by calling out Samia Suluhu Hassan’s administration for its continued violation of human rights, good governance and democratic norms.”
BAWACHA’s call for intervention comes a day after the government charged Mr Mbowe with conspiracy to blow up fueling stations and other public gatherings as well as funding terrorist acts. Mr Mbowe’s case has been postponed until August 5, 2021, and he is now at Ukonga Maximum Security Prison in Dar es Salaam because the charges against him are non-bailable.
In their letter, BAWACHA charges that Mr Mbowe’s arrest is “indicative of the lengths that Samia Suluhu will go to monopolize all power,” calling on Mr Wright to “call for the immediate and unconditional release of Hon. Freeman Mbowe whose rights have been abrasively violated.”
AFRICOM’s Gen. Townsend in Tanzania for official visit
U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Commander General Stephen Townsend is in Tanzania for a two-day visit where since Tuesday he has been meeting with senior Tanzania’s defence officials as well as opening the first joint Special Forces training exercise between the two nations, a statement released by U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam said yesterday.
AFRICOM is one of the eleven unified combatant commands of the United States Department of Defense headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. Operating under a philosophy that U.S. security interests in Africa are best served by building long-term partnerships with African nations, regional organizations, and the African Union; AFRICOM oversees and coordinates U.S. military activities in Africa.
“We are strengthening our military ties through joint operational training and exercises,” the statement quoted General Townsend as saying. “It’s important we develop our partnership with Tanzania to advance our shared goals and security objectives.”
On Wednesday, Townsend joined Tanzania’s Chief of Defence Forces General Venance Mabeyo in the opening ceremony of a Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) between the U.S. Special Forces Detachment and members of Tanzania’s Marine Special Forces at the Peacekeeping Operations Training Center in Kunduchi.
JCET programs are exercises designed to provide training opportunities for American Special Forces by holding the training exercises in countries that the forces may one day have to operate in, as well as providing training opportunities for the armed forces of the host countries.
The six-week exercise is the first of its type between the U.S. and Tanzania since 2017, the statement from the embassy added. During the course of exercises, “the U.S. and Tanzanian forces will train side by side to strengthen skills such as small unit tactics, marksmanship, medical treatment, unit manoeuvre, the Law of Armed Conflict, and the preservation of human rights in combat,” the statement noted.
“Tanzania remains an African security leader and a partner of U.S. Africa Command,” Townsend told the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam. “Our defence forces have a long history of working side by side. This visit is a symbol of our desire to strengthen that partnership.”
EU to support Zanzibar’s vaccination drive
European Union (EU) has promised to support 20 per cent of the vaccines that the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar requires for its more than 1.5 million population, the isle’s health minister Mr Ahmed Nassor Mazrui briefed journalists yesterday shortly after meeting with EU’s Ambassador to Tanzania Mr Manfredo Fanti.
“Ten thousand [doses of coronavirus vaccine] has already been received and is being used, and the consignment of one hundred thousand is expected on Friday (July 30) from China,” the government-owned Daily News newspaper quoted Mr Mazrui as saying.
He said that the EU ambassador left Zanzibar with the hope that the isles will seriously maintain its commitment against the global pandemic by ensuring Zanzibaris are vaccinated and take all the required health precautions to stop Covid-19, assuring the Zanzibar’s government of EU’s support in its efforts.
Majaliwa receives findings from team formed to investigate fire at Kariakoo market
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa on Tuesday received a report from the task force he formed to investigate the fire outbreak at the Kariakoo International Market, in Tanzania’s commercial capital of Dar es Salaam, promising to implement all the committee’s recommendations to prevent such incidents from recurring.
Mr Majaliwa formed the committee following the fire outbreak that occurred on July 10, 2021, at the busy market of Kariakoo, affecting dozens of businesses that were conducted around and inside the market.
The committee comprised officers from the Office of the President (State House), the Office of the President (Regional Administration and Local Governments), the Prime Minister’s Office, Security Forces, Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Tanzania Building Agency (TBA), Tanzania National Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) and the Fire and Rescue Force.
On July 21, 2021, PM Majaliwa promised to make the report findings public during an address he gave at the Mtoro Masjid in Kariakoo where he had participated in the Eid-al-Adha prayer.
But while receiving the report from the committee’s chairperson Liberatus Sabas in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday Majaliwa did not say when this will take place so that people can know what actually transpired on that fateful night of July 10, 2021, when the fire broke out at the Kariakoo market.
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