Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Monday, August 11, 2021.
Is Uhuru’s false reporting about Samia accidental?
The government on Wednesday banned Uhuru newspaper, the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi’s (CCM) mouthpiece, for allegedly publishing a false story about President Samia Suluhu Hassan, which the government’s chief spokesperson Gerson Msigwa said was against both Tanzania’s media laws as well as the principles of ethical journalism. The paper has been suspended for fourteen days starting today, August 12, 2021.
In its Wednesday’s issue, Uhuru carried a front-page story reading ‘Sina wazo kuwania uraisi 2025 – Samia,’ which translates to ‘I do not intend to run for the presidency in 2025 – Samia’ in English. The paper did the story based on an interview the Head of State, who doubles as CCM’s national chairperson, did with BBC Swahili on Monday. But authorities dismissed Uhuru’s story as a lie, saying there is nowhere in the interview where President Samia says she does not have a plan to run for the presidency in 2025.
During the interview, BBC’s Salim Kikeke asks President Samia if she has any plan to run for the presidency during the next general election in 2025 and here is how the Head of State responded: “Let’s work first. The issue is two-sided. Let’s work first and see how we proceed [as a country]. Of 2025, let us leave them to God. You can get there or not. What if I say I’ll run and not make it [to 2025]? So let us leave that to God.”
Uhuru becomes the first newspaper to face suspension since Samia became the president in March 2021. CCM Secretary-General Daniel Chongoro said during a press conference yesterday that all of those who were found involved in one way or the other in the publication of the story have been suspended, including the company’s executive director Mr Ernest Sungura.
Although Mr Chongolo distanced CCM from being responsible for the story, some think that its publication is not at all accidental. Observers of Tanzania’s political developments think that the incident says a lot about the ongoing suppressed but growing fractions within one of Africa’s oldest political parties, especially between the camp of former president John Magufuli’s loyalists and President Samia’s base.
The Uhuru incident occurred at a time when some prominent CCM lawmakers, like Josephat Gwajima and Humphrey Polepole, two of the most loyal CCM cadres to Magufuli, are publicly pushing against Samia’s approach to COVID-19 and particularly on vaccines, urging for the country’s return on Mr Magufuli’s denialist approach to combating the deadly virus. Despite CCM’s warnings that it’d stop at nothing in taking actions against people trying to “sabotage” President Samia, the two have sworn to never back down.
Former cabinet minister and CCM member Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki said in a Twitter post on Wednesday that what has happened “is not an accident,” telling President Samia that “the chain is inside and not outside.” The Chanzo contacted Ambassador Kagasheki to see if he would clarify what he had meant by that statement but he had not replied by the time this story is published.
Dr Thabit Jacob of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden is a keen follower of Tanzania’s politics. He tells The Chanzo: “[The Uhuru incident] can’t be accidental. Some people are already looking at the 2025 [presidential] nomination [from CCM]. We shouldn’t overreact but this signal clandestine factional rifts.” Dr Jacob says that the good news is that “she saw this [coming] so early and warned the boys [and the girls in her party and government].
He’s referring to President Samia’s warning she gave on April 1, 2021, during a function to swear in the newly appointed ministers at the State House in the capital Dodoma. “I understand that 2025 [when the next general election will take place] is very close,” said President during the occasion.
“And the tradition – I don’t know if it’s just in Tanzania or all over the world – when the incumbent president enters his/her second term, people tend to have that and this. I’m urging you all to stop it. Anyone with an intention [to contest for presidency in] 2025 to stop it immediately,” warned President Samia.
HIV deaths down by 50 percent
Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Youth, Employment and Persons with Disability Jenista Mhagama said on Wednesday that the number of HIV/AIDS-related deaths in Tanzania has dropped from 64,000 in 2010 to 32,000 in 2020, the government-owned Daily News newspaper reports.
“Voluntary testing has increased from 61 percent in 2016 to 83 percent in 2019 and the use of antiretroviral drugs has also increased from 95 percent in 2016 to 98 percent in 2019,” Ms. Mhagama said during the launch of the Tanzania Commission for Aids (TACAIDS) Commission in the capital Dodoma. “The number of HIV related deaths has dropped from 64,000 in 2010 to 32,000 last year, while transmission from mother to child has been reduced from 18 percent in 2010 to 7 percent in 2020.”
The minister also revealed that the HIV prevalence rate in Tanzania has dropped to 4.7 percent according to the domestic statistics in 2017/17 in comparison to seven percent in 2003/04, adding that: “New infections among adults has also dropped from 110,000 in 2010 to 68,000 last year.”
Tanzania lowers COVID-19 testing costs for foreigners
Minister of Health Dorothy Gwajima said yesterday that the government has reduced the cost travelers in Tanzania incur in testing COVID-19 whereby now they’ll have to pay only $50 for an RT-PCR Test instead of the $100 they used to pay earlier.
The government also reduced the cost for the Antigen Rapid Test for incoming travelers from $25 to $10. Dr Gwajima also said in a statement yesterday that her ministry has decided to remove the test requirement at the borders except in airports. The changes will become effective on August 16, 2021.
Minister Gwajima said the reduction of the costs is thanks to the fact that the government already has a budget set aside for exactly that purpose.
Yesterday’s move by the government is in accordance with President Samia Suluhu Hassan directive she gave on May 4 during her official visit to Kenya where she directed the ministries of health of Kenya and Tanzania to find ways they can solve the COVID-19 testing certificates for travelers crossing the Tanzania-Kenya border.
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