Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania over the weekend.
Opposition, lawyers poke holes in state’s terrorism charges against Mbowe
Opposition party CHADEMA said Saturday that a critical examination of the charge sheet that accuses the party’s national chairperson Mr Freeman Mbowe of conspiracies and funding terrorist activities “lacks any legal basis,” calling it “proof” that the case is politically motivated with authorities weaponizing terrorism as part of their strategy to weaken the political opposition in Tanzania.
Mr Mbowe and the other CHADEMA cadres were arrested ahead of the party’s New Constitution conference that was to take place on July 21, 2021, before the police interrupted it under the excuse that political rallies were banned in Tanzania. On July 24, 2021, police released the eleven CHADEMA cadres who were arrested in the company of Mr Mbowe except for the opposition figure who is currently at the Ukonga Maximum Security Prison in Dar es Salaam facing terrorism charges.
According to the charge sheet, Mr Mbowe is accused of taking part in conspiracies to blow up fueling stations and other public gatherings as well as funding terrorist acts. The plaintiff alleges that Mr Mbowe, between May 1, 2020, and August 1, 2020, at the Aishi Machame Hotel in Moshi, Kilimanjaro, and at various places in Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, and Arusha “conspired to blow up fueling stations and public gatherings.”
In the second charge against Mr Mbowe, the government claims that between May 1, 2020, and August 1, 2020, at the Aishi Machame Hotel and at various places in Dar es Salaam, Morogoro and Arusha, Mr Mbowe “indirectly” provided funds to three people while “having reasonable grounds to believe that the said funds will be used in full to carry out terrorist acts.”
“But the charge sheet does not say anywhere what are the names of these fueling stations that Mr Mbowe is accused of conspiring to blow up,” CHADEMA Secretary-General John Mnyika said during a press conference on Saturday in Dar es Salaam. “Nor does it say which are these public gatherings that Mr Mbowe allegedly targeted.”
Mr Mnyika said the word “indirectly” in the charge sheet was used purposefully because police do not have any information that would incriminate Mr Mbowe. “The charge sheet does not say what exactly is the amount of the fund that Mr Mbowe provided for the said activities,” said Mr Mnyika.
Mr Mnyika became the latest person to raise serious doubts about the genuineness of the charges that Mr Mbowe faces. Others who have already done so is a lawyer and former Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) president Fatma Karume who on July 27, 2021, pointed out that the charge sheet was proof that “arresting someone with trumped-up charges is easy under a weak [criminal justice] system.”
In a Twitter thread, the firebrand activist pointed out that the charges contained in the charge sheet were different from what was communicated by police spokesperson David Misime who on July 22, 2021, told a press conference in Dar es Salaam that the law enforcement agency was holding Mr Mbowe after he was implicated in conspiracies to “assassinate some government’s leaders” something that never appeared in the charge sheet.
“Under a competent [criminal justice] system, Mr Mbowe’s charge sheet would have been immediately dismissed for being defective because it does not meet the required criteria [which include] writing down the facts that show all elements of the offences,” wrote Fatma.
During his press conference on Saturday, Mr Mnyika, who was communicating the deliberations of CHADEMA’s Central Committee that sat to discuss the fate of Mr Mbowe, said that the charge sheet shows that the charges against Mr Mbowe are “cooked-up,” demanding Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mr Sylvester Mwakitalu to drop them.
Apart from indicating that CHADEMA’s lawyers have already filed a constitutional case to formally challenge the case, Mr Mnyika also said: “Our resolution is that on August 5 this year, when Mbowe’s case will be mentioned in court, it will be a day to come out in hundreds to protest against the case.”
Z’bar receives second batch of China-donated covid vaccines
Zanzibar on Saturday received a batch of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines and syringes, the second batch of vaccines donated by China to the semi-autonomous archipelago after it used the first donation received a month ago to vaccinate its frontline health workers, China’s Global Times reported Sunday.
Zanzibar’s Minister of Trade and Industrial Development Omar Said Shaaban, Chinese Consul General in Zanzibar Zhang Zhisheng, and other officials from the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar attended the handover ceremony of the vaccines at the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport.
“Donation of the vaccines will continue to cement the friendly relations forged many years ago between China and Zanzibar,” said Mr Shaaban. He added that arrangements would be made for the distribution of the vaccines with a priority given to frontline workers and those with underlying health issues.
Police confirm detaining CHADEMA women leader
Temeke Regional Police Commander Richard Ngole told Mwananchi newspaper yesterday that the law enforcement agency was holding the chairperson of opposition CHADEMA’s Women Wing (BAWACHA) for Temeke District in Dar es Salaam Ms Neema Mwakipesile.
Ngole’s confirmation came shortly after CHADEMA put out a statement accusing police in Temeke of detaining Mwakipesile for five days without telling her what were her charges or producing her in court.
Ngole told Mwananchi newspaper that Mwakipesile was held by the police following the alleged crime that she committed in Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam. He did not say the charges that she is accused of.
In its Sunday’s statement, CHADEMA said that Mwakipesile was denied visits from her relatives, urging the police to immediately release her or produce her in the court of law. The party also asked the police to inform Mwakipesile of her charges as well as allow her access to a lawyer.
“Police have been organizing unlawful acts, including kidnapping and detaining people in total violation of Tanzania’s laws,” BAWACHA Secretary-General Catherine Ruge said in a statement, calling for the behaviour to stop.
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