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The Chanzo Morning Briefing – August 3, 2021

In our briefing, today: Samia in Rwanda for two-day official visit; Sirro: We’ve enough evidence to incriminate Mbowe; and TZ to supply refugee camps with COVID-19 vaccines.

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Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Monday, August 2, 2021.

Samia in Rwanda for two-day official visit

President Samia Suluhu Hassan began her two-day official visit to Rwanda on Monday with immigration, education, information and communications technologies (ICTs), and infrastructures taking the centre stage in the discussion between the Tanzanian leader and her host President Paul Kagame.

A total of four memorandums of understanding (MoU) on the areas were signed between Tanzania and Rwanda on Monday, according to a statement by Tanzania’s director of presidential communications Mr Jaffar Haniu.

It is the first time President Samia visits the landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley following an invitation by Mr Kagame. The visit comes almost a month since President Kagame wrote to President Samia on June 4, 2021, congratulating her for becoming the sixth president of Tanzania as well as assuring her of Rwanda’s willingness to further develop bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries.

“Rwanda and Tanzania share more than just a border,” President Kagame told reporters shortly after holding private discussions with President Samia. “Our strong historical ties and common aspirations to deliver prosperities to our people have always been central to our cooperation.”

Mr Kagame said that with Tanzania and Rwanda signing the agreements, the two East African countries commit to ensuring that Samia’s visit to Rwanda leads to tangible results and gives renewed momentum to the two’s bilateral relationship.

“This also gives new impetus to key infrastructure and investment projects of mutual benefits, particularly the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line, milk production, and improved port logistics,” said Mr Kagame.

President Samia assured her host of Tanzania’s commitment to improving the relations between Tanzania and Rwanda, which she described as “historical,” adding: “There are many opportunities that we can exploit to improve business and investments for the benefits of both countries.”

According to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade, in 2019 Rwanda imports from Tanzania were 224.54 million US dollars (about Sh520.7 billion), while Rwanda exports to Tanzania were 5.1million US dollars (about Sh11.8 billion).

Tanzania and Rwanda are also implementing a joint project to build the Isaka–Kigali Standard Gauge Railway that is expected to link the town of Isaka (Tanzania) to Rwanda’s capital of Kigali. The 521-kilometre railway line is expected to cost an estimated $2.5 billion.

Sirro: We’ve enough evidence to incriminate Mbowe

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Simon Sirro said yesterday that the law enforcement agency will not allow “a small group of people” to make Tanzania “inhabitable” simply because they missed an opportunity to form a government. He made the warning during a press conference in Dar es Salaam.

IGP Sirro was commenting on the terrorism charges that face CHADEMA national chairperson Mr Freeman Mbowe and which the party has dismissed as “trumped-up” and “politically motivated.” Mr Mbowe is currently held at the Ukonga Maximum Security Prison as he’s accused of conspiring to blow up fueling stations and public gatherings as well as funding terrorist activities. His case is scheduled for hearing on August 5, 2021.

“A wise person should understand what I’m talking about. If [anyone] is planning to go to Canada [or] the United States of America, they should prepare themselves for the trip. But we will never allow a small group of people to make [Tanzania] inhabitable because they lost power [to form a government],” said IGP Sirro.

Sirro’s remarks yesterday were in response to CHADEMA’s demand to Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mr Sylivester Mwakitalu to drop the charges against Mr Mbowe, saying the charges “lack any legal basis” and aim at weakening the political opposition in Tanzania. CHADEMA Secretary-General John Mnyika said during a press conference on Saturday in Dar es Salaam that “police do not have any information that would incriminate Mr Mbowe” and that the opposition figure “cannot be a terrorist.”

But IGP Sirro told reporters yesterday that the police do not have any reason to treat Mr Mbowe unjustly. He said: “Why should we treat him unjustly, for what benefits? What we are doing is to fulfil our duty as law enforcers. We have enough evidence [that would incriminate Mr Mbowe]. But let us leave the court to decide if he did commit the crimes or not.”

Apart from indicating that CHADEMA’s lawyers have already filed a constitutional case to formally challenge the case, Mr Mnyika said during his press conference Saturday: “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.”

But it seems like the police would not allow even that. “Who are you, bro[ther]?” IGP Sirro warned during his press conference. “You do not have that chance. And many Tanzanians do not want problems right now. Many of them are preoccupied with how they can improve their lives. A court is like a police station. If you want to invade it you’ll be dealt with according to the law.”

Meanwhile, Mr David McAllister, a German politician and Member of the European Parliament has written to Mr Josep Borrell Fontelles, the Vice President of the European Commission, to inquire if the European External Action Service (EEAS), which is the diplomatic service and combined foreign and defence ministry of the European Union, has reacted to events taking place in Tanzania, including the charges against Mr Mbowe.

“The Europen Union is a key development partner for Tanzania and should react accordingly to these developments,” Mr McAllister, who doubles as the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament, writes in his letter dated August 2, 2021.   

“[The] assistance that the EU gives to Tanzania must come with a responsibility on the part of the government of Tanzania to respect its citizens’ basic human rights and political freedoms stipulated in [Germany’s] constitution and in various regional and international human rights convention to which Tanzania is a party,” writes Mr McAllister who is a member of the German Christian Democratic Union, one of CHADEMA’s closest international allies.

TZ to supply refugee camps with COVID-19 vaccines

The government is planning to supply refugee camps in Kigoma, Tabora, and Katavi regions with COVID-19 vaccines, Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday quoting Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Khamis Hamza Chilo.

He said that refugee camps officials had started to register names of refugees who are ready to receive the jabs, adding that the refugees will be vaccinated voluntarily.

 “The distribution of vaccines is among efforts by the government aimed at protecting the refugees from the pandemic,” Xinhua quoted Chilo as saying. However, Chilo did not say when the vaccines would be available for the refugees.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Tanzania hosted about 253,000 refugees, mainly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as of June 30, 2021.

On July 28, 2021, President Samia Suluhu Hassan launched the country’s COVID-19 vaccination drive and received a jab of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

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