Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Monday, August 9, 2021.
Samia says charges against Mbowe ‘not politically motivated’
President Samia Suluhu Hassan said Monday that she does not think that the charges against CHADEMA national chairperson Mr Freeman Mbowe are politically motivated, reiterating authorities’ claims that the charges are not new and do not have anything to do with the opposition figure’s political activities.
During her interview with BBC’s Salim Kikeke yesterday, the Head of State said that the charges against Mr Mbowe were filed officially in September 2020 but police failed to arrest him because the investigation into the charges had not been completed. These are the same explanations that both police’s spokesperson David Misime and Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Simon Sirro have previously made about the case on July 22, 2021, and August 2, 2021, respectively.
“And if you remember Mbowe was not in [Tanzania] for a very long time,” President Samia commented for the first time in the highly controversial case against the opposition figure that is already before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court. “He was in Nairobi, [Kenya]. Now, why did he run away? I do not know. But as soon as he entered Tanzania he called for New Constitution demonstrations. I think he did some [political] calculations. Knowing that he faces [terrorism] charges, and the chaos that he is instigating, [Mbowe forced to make] his arrest appears as if it is related to his constitutional reforms activities. I think [but] I’m not sure.”
Mr Mbowe was brought before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court for the first time on July 26, 2021, accused of taking part in conspiracies to blow up fueling stations and other public gatherings as well as funding terrorist acts. He was arrested in Mwanza together with eleven other CHADEMA cadres — who have since been released — ahead of a New Constitution conference that the party’s Youth Wing (BAVICHA) had called and which Mr Mbowe was expected to be the guest of honour.
CHADEMA and other pro-democracy activists have dismissed the terrorism charges against Mr Mbowe as “trumped-up” and “politically motivated”; they have since then called for authorities to drop them. They have said the charge sheet on Mr Mbowe’s case “lacks any legal basis” and would have been “immediately dropped under any competent criminal justice system.”
During the interview, President Samia pointed out that her administration is not going to allow what she called ‘political chaos’ to take place in Tanzania, adding that when elections are over people across the political divide are supposed to come together to build their nation “instead of organizing endless demonstrations and political rallies.”
The Head of State said during the interview that her administration is not against political parties organizing meetings that are demanded by their respective constitutions, adding: “Something that is not good is to see [political parties] demanding the freedom to organize political chaos. Like, we are done with elections, the government has already been formed [and] what is needed is nation-building [a particular] political party wants to organize endless political rallies. No, that’s not going to happen.”
But ever since she decided against lifting a ban on political rallies imposed by her predecessor John Magufuli, saying the rallies and the call for constitutional reforms should wait first as she’s fixing the economy, dozens of opposition leaders and supporters, particularly from CHADEMA, have been arbitrarily arrested while participating in the party’s internal meeting. Many of those arrested are detained for hours before they are released.
Just yesterday, for instance, CHADEMA Women Wing (BAWACHA) issued a statement saying that over 60 of the party’s members, including 20 women, have been arrested and detained over the course of one week, with police allegedly subjecting them to physical and sexual harassment, and depriving them of their fundamental rights as human beings, like being informed of their charges and allowed access to their lawyers. BAWACHA has called for the international community to intervene in the “horrendous violations” committed against its members.
Mr Mbowe’s lawyers have filed a civil case No. 21/2021 against Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mr Sylvester Mwakitalu, Attorney General Adelardus Kilangi and IGP Sirro, accusing the three of violating his fundamental rights during his arrest as well as in the entire proceeding of the case against him. Mr Peter Kibatala, Mbowe’s senior attorney, said yesterday that police reportedly told Mr Mbowe shortly after arresting him, “You pretend to know the New Constitution so much. You cannot get away this time. We are going to give you a terrorism case.”
Inflation rises to 3.8 percent in July, highest rate this year
The annual headline inflation has increased to 3.8 percent from the recorded 3.6 percent in June 2021. The National Bureau of Statistics has attributed the change as the result of an increase in prices of food and some non-food items.
Some of the food items included wheat grains which increased by 6.5 percent, wheat flour by 6.1 percent, meat by 3.7 percent, round potatoes by 7.9 percent, sweet potatoes by 8.4 percent and fresh cassava by 6.4 percent. Some of the non-food items include women’s clothing which increased by 6.4 percent, men footwear by 7.1 percent, footwear for infants and children by 6.4 percent and rent by 6.4 percent.
This is the highest record for this year and the highest monthly rate since December 2019. The consumer price results come one month after the new budget 2021/2022 becomes operational in July 2021, the budget introduced several levies on mobile money transactions and fuel.
In East Africa, Tanzania inflation is still moderately low in comparison to other countries. Uganda has recorded 2.1 percent inflation from the recorded 2 percent in June and Kenya has recorded 6.44 percent from 6.32 percent recorded in June 2021.
CJ calls for construction of more prisons to solve congestion problem
Chief Justice Prof Ibrahim Juma thinks that the solution to the longstanding problem of congestion in Tanzania’s prisons is for the government to build more jails at the district level in all regions of Tanzania. CJ Juma made the proposal on Monday while officiating a working meeting between the Judicial Service Commission and the Iringa region’s Ethics Committee in the region.
Information about the condition of Tanzania’s prison is very patchy but Home Affairs Minister George Simbachawene told the parliament in April 2021 that as of March 2021, Tanzania had a total of 33,570 inmates, which included 16,850 prisoners and 16,720 (49.8%) remand prisoners. Simbachawene revealed in his speech that the capacity of Tanzania prisons is at 29,902, which means prison population is overcapacity by 12 percent. Parole and presidential clemency are the main ways that Simbachawene said the government was using to reduce the congestion problem in prisons.
But the CJ seems to have another solution: build more prisons. “When you construct a courthouse, you should also build a prison where the courthouse is being constructed,” Prof Juma advised the government, assuring it that “this will reduce the challenge of congestion in prisons.”
CJ Juma is not alone in proposing the construction of more prisons to solve the congestion problem in the country. In fact, a 2009-report by the Tanzania Law Reform Commission, the Problem of Congestion in Prisons, proposed exactly the same measure along with other solutions that the commission thought would put an end to the persistent problem. These include the need for the government to provide enough funds to all relevant organs like the judiciary, the office of Attorney General, the police and prison that would promote efficiency and uninterrupted services.
Police officer investigated over murder of teenager
Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police commander Jumanne Muliro has said that the law enforcers are investigating its officer Eliud Msangi for allegedly being responsible for the murder of a fourteen-year-old Jastine James, which took place on August 1, 2021, in Ilala, Dar es Salaam.
James Msira, the deceased boy’s father, told Mwananchi newspaper that he received a call on the day of the incident informing him that his son has been rushed to a political station in Kitunda, Ilala after officer Msangi allegedly beat him. According to the father’s explanations, his son died while they were rushing him to Amana Regional Referral Hospital in Ilala.
Eliud Msangi and Jastine James were neighbours and it is not clear what had caused the former to beat the latter to death. Muliro told the paper that the police had received the complaints regarding the matter and they have launched an investigation to find the real motivation behind the murder.
Muliro told Mwananchi newspaper that Mr Msangi has not been arrested as the police are waiting for the investigation into the matter to be completed.
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