Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania over the weekend.
Samia receives NEC 2020 general election report
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) on Saturday submitted its report on the 2020 General Election to President Samia Suluhu Hassan during an occasion at the State House in Dar es Salaam that Tanzania’s leading opposition parties boycotted. NEC chairperson Semistocles Kaijage said during the occasion that only 15.9 million people, an equivalent of 50.72 per cent, of over 29.7 million registered voters voted in the highly controversial elections.
The late President John Magufuli of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) emerged the winner in the General Election that took place on October 28 after garnering more than 84 per cent of the vote against his closest opponent Mr Tundu Lissu of the opposition CHADEMA who earned 13 per cent of the vote. CCM also won over 96 per cent of parliamentary seats in the election that rights groups and opposition parties claimed was marred by massive irregularities.
Dozens of opposition candidates were prevented from running in the elections on grounds that opposition parties called dubious. This led to dozens of CCM candidates being announced to have “passed unopposed.” Police harassed and frustrated opposition candidates by arresting them or their campaigns team or disrupting their campaign rallies by stopping them from organizing rallies or disrupting them. The elections took place against the background of an unprecedented internet shutdown. Most experienced organizations, including some international electoral observers, were also denied permits to observe the elections.
Judge Kaijage did not speak about these concerns during his presentation on Saturday nor did he say that the elections were free and fair. He instead spoke of how Tanzania funded the elections through its own money by 100 per cent as well as presenting some recommendations that would improve the country’s electoral system.
These include the need to review the NEC and Local Government Authorities (LGAs) laws so that the elections can be coordinated by one organ; those who emerge unopposed be voted for or against; and the need for the government to recruit elections officers at the Local Government authorities (LGAs) as well as financing the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that provide civic education.
CHADEMA, ACT-Wazalendo, NCCR-Mageuzi, and the Civic United Front (CUF) boycotted the occasion; each saying that attending the event would have been giving the 2020 General Election a legitimacy that it does not deserve. The parties said that what happened on October 28, 2020, was not an election but a sham that should have never happened.
Govt concerned over diplomats attending Mbowe’s case
During a meeting with members of the diplomatic corps in the country, Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms Liberata Mulamula cautioned ambassadors representing foreign countries as well as heads of institutions and international organisations residing in the country against the behaviour of attending court proceedings in the case against CHADEMA national chairperson Freeman Mbowe, The Citizen newspaper reported Saturday.
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. The hearing of his case is expected to resume today.
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.” Mr Mbowe has appeared at least three times at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court for hearing and among those who have been attending it are ambassadors and heads of regional and international organizations.
“My docket is obliged at assuring safety to members of the diplomatic corps residing in the country,” said Mr Mulamula during a closed meeting. She was briefing the envoys on what transpired during the 41st Summit of the heads of state of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) held between August 17 and 18, 2021 in Lilongwe, Malawi. “However, recently some members have been seen at the court without following the laws, regulations and procedures governing diplomatic issues including informing a responsible docket.”
US President Biden considers changing US representative to Tanzania
US President Joe Biden on Friday announced his intent to nominate Mr Michael Battle as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Tanzania. If confirmed by the US Senate, Mr Battle will replace Mr Donald Wright who has been representing the United States in Tanzania since August 2020.
Unlike in Tanzania, in the United States, the Head of State does not appoint an ambassador but just nominates a name to be confirmed by the Senate, an equivalent of Tanzania’s parliament. The process from nomination to confirmation takes time, which means that Ambassador Wright will still remain the US ambassador to Tanzania until Mr Battle’s nomination is confirmed.
According to a statement put out by the White House on August 20, 2021, Mr Battle served as United States Representative to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the US Ambassador to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Mr Battle has previously served as a Senior Advisor to the Bureau of African Affairs at the US Department of State for the US Africa Leaders’ Summit in 2014.
Two CCM MPs ordered to appear before parliament ethics committee
Speaker of Parliament Job Ndugai has ordered two Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) lawmakers Josephat Gwajima (Kawe) and Jerry Silaa (Ukonga) to appear before the Parliamentary Privileges, Ethics and Powers Committee to answer various allegations levelled against them.
Mr Ndugai said in a statement released on August 21, 2021, that Mr Gwajima and Mr Silaa are accused of making false and degrading statements about the parliament, something that is a violation of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly.
Speaker Ndugai did not specifically point out the statements that the two MPs made and which landed them into trouble. However, Mr Gwajima and Mr Silaa have on different occasions made some statements that The Chanzo is convinced are responsible for the reprisal they are about to receive from the lawmaking body.
Mr Gwajima, who is also a pastor, has been using his religious platform to encourage people against getting the COVID-19 vaccine, calling it fake and inefficient. Mr Gwajima has made it clear that he would rather lose his position as an MP than getting himself vaccinated. He has accused senior government officials of receiving bribes so that COVID-19 vaccines can be imported into the country.
On his part, on July 23, 2021, Mr Silaa made a statement during a political rally in Dar es Salaam that implied that Members of Parliament do not pay taxes, saying MPs should be paying taxes so that they can have the moral authority to tell their people to do the same.
On August 3, 2021, the parliament issued a statement refuting claims that MPs do not pay taxes, saying that like any other public servant, MPs are subject to several taxes such as the Pay as You Earn (PAYE) tax.
Mr Gwajima is scheduled to appear before the committee in Dodoma today, August 23, 2021, while Mr Silaa’s turn will be on Tuesday.
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