The Chanzo Morning Briefing – August 11, 2021.

In our briefing today: CHADEMA accuses Samia of interfering in Mbowe’s case; Minister concerned over conditions in Tanzania’s prisons; and Three in court facing illegal human trafficking charges.
The Chanzo Reporter11 August 20215 min

Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Monday, August 10, 2021.

CHADEMA accuses Samia of interfering in Mbowe’s case

CHADEMA Secretary-General John Mnyika said yesterday that the party has directed a team of lawyers representing CHADEMA national chairperson Freeman Mbowe in his economic sabotage case to take action against the statements by President Samia Suluhu Hassan that Mr Mnyika says interfere with both judicial independence as well as with Mr Mbowe’s case.

During her interview with BBC Swahili aired on Monday, President Samia said that she does not think that the charges against Mr Mbowe are politically motivated, adding that the charges were filed officially in September 2020 but police failed to arrest him because the investigation into the charges had not been completed. “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,” Samia said.

“On August 13, 2021, when Mbowe’s case will be brought for hearing, the Tanzanian public and the international community will be informed of the legal actions that Mbowe’s defence team will take against President Samia’s remarks,” said Mr Mnyika during a press conference that took place at CHADEMA’s headquarters in Dar es Salaam.

Mr Mnyika said that what President Samia said during the interview regarding Mr Mbowe’s case that is already before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court is “very huge” because it may determine the direction of the case when it’ll be brought for hearing on August 13. He said Samia’s remarks go against the doctrine of separation of power enshrined in Tanzania’s 1977 Constitution.

“This is a very huge issue in a country that is recognized as a democracy,” Mr Mnyika said. “Based on the democratic principles, the three pillars of the state [the executive, the legislature and the judiciary] are supposed to enjoy absolute independence without interfering with each other. Samia’s attempts at interfering with the independence of the judiciary should not go unquestioned and unchallenged.”

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. 

Minister concerned over conditions in Tanzania’s prisons

Home Affairs Minister Mr George Simbachawene has expressed his disappointment with the condition of Tanzania’s prisons, describing them as “colonial-like” and that the country has a long way to fix them until prisoners’ fundamental human rights are respected, Mwananchi newspaper reported Tuesday. 

Mr Simbachawene reportedly made the remarks over the weekend when he was a guest of honour during a fundraising function organized by Utu Kwanza, a local non-governmental organization that works in preserving human dignity and self-respect convicted and unconvicted prisoners.

“Our prisons have qualities of colonial-era prisons,” Mr Simbachawene said during the function that took place in Dar es Salaam. “A prison officer who is assured of promotion is that whose behaviour is anachronistic and colonial like. He/she is the one who is seen as fulfilling his duties.”

According to a recent report by the US State Department, Tanzania’s prisons face problems ranging from inadequate food and overcrowding to poor sanitation and insufficient medical care. The report describes Tanzania’s prison conditions as “harsh and life-threatening.” ‪Authorities reportedly hold minors together with adults in several prisons due to lack of detention facilities, the report notes. Physical abuse of prisoners is common. Most prisons are unheated though prisoners in cold regions of the country reportedly receive blankets and sweaters.

“I think and I agree that as a country [Tanzania] has a long way to go to improve our ways of dealing with crime and criminals as well as defending people’s rights and dignity,” said Mr Simbachawene. Tanzania Prisons Service is under the Home Affairs ministry, a docket that Mr Simbachawene heads.

Three in court facing illegal human trafficking charges

An Egyptian national Mohamed Morsy Shalaby, 52, and his two other co-accused were on Tuesday arraigned before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court facing charges of illegal human trafficking after they were found devising a plan to traffick a total of 95 people to Canada and Mauritius, 90 of them being Tanzanian citizens and the rest Burundian nationals.  Shalaby’s co-accused includes forty-year-old Tanzanian Ally Rajabu and thirty-three-year-old Burundian Chebet Benson.

According to a 2020-Trafficking in Persons Report by the US Department of State, “Tanzania does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.” Some of the things that make Tanzania seems to be not serious about combatting trafficking in persons is its failure to amend its law to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment as well as its inability to initiate more prosecutions on the crime.

According to the prosecutor’s explanations, Mr Shalaby was found with 95 people on August 4, 2021, in Ilala, Dar es Salaam. While Rajabu accepted the charges against him, Shalaby and Benson denied them. The plaintiff informed the court that the investigation into the two’s charges is complete. The case was postponed until today, August 11, 2021, for a hearing.

On July 29, 2021, ahead of this year’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, commemorated on July 30 of every year, a total of 45 institutions in Tanzania, including civil society organizations (CSOs), religious organizations and media launched a coalition to put an end to the crime in the country.

This is it for today and we hope you enjoyed our briefing. Please consider subscribing to our newsletter (see below) or follow us on Twitter (here) as that is the best way to make sure you do not miss any of these briefings.  And in case you have any questions or comments, please consider dropping a word to our editors at editor@thechanzo.com

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