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The Chanzo Morning Briefing – August 25, 2021.

In our briefing today: ELCT Archbishop weighs in on Mbowe’s case; TPDF chief of defence forces Mabeyo in Rwanda for four-day visit; Minister orders telcos to use #100 in customer services communications.

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Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Tuesday, August 24, 2021.

ELCT Archbishop weighs in on Mbowe’s case

The Head Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT) Dr Fredrick Shoo yesterday became the latest public figure to speak out his disillusionment at the alleged terrorism charges that Tanzania has levelled against CHADEMA national chairperson Mr Freeman Mbowe, pleading with the High Court judges to make sure that justice in the highly controversial case is served.

Speaking yesterday during the funeral of Mr Mbowe’s mother-in-law in Tengeru, Arusha, Dr Shoo said there are things that Tanzanians are doing against each other that are disheartening, saddening, and sometimes I can even say are shameful. Mrs Johara Mtei, the wife of the late CHADEMA founder Mr Edwin Mtei, died on August 20, 2021, while receiving treatment at the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam. She died at the age of 79.

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. 

Addressing Mr Mbowe’s wife, Dr Shoo said: “I know that [the passing away of your mother] must be a very heavy issue to you. But we also know that your beloved husband, our brother Freeman Mbowe, could not take part in the funeral of his mother-in-law. Just recently, he lost his paternal uncle and could not attend his funeral. [Mr Mbowe could not attend all these funerals] for reasons that we are told to go and ask himself. These issues hurt.  

“For those of us who follow these issues from a distance, it is not that we do not see, we do see, these are my prayers: when we have authorities, any position that allows you to define the fate of your fellow human being, use them justly. I know that Mr Mbowe’s case is already in court and I would like to plead with those entrusted with the role of dispensing justice, they should go ahead and do what God may please and let justice prevails.”

Others involved in the case against Mr Mbowe are Mr Halfan Hassan, Mr Adam Kasekwa, and Mr Mohamed Lingwenya. 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.”

In his remarks during the funeral of Mr Mbowe’s mother-in-law yesterday, Dr Shoo said that he never saw any terrorist elements in Mr Mbowe since he knew him both as a Member of Parliament and member of the congregation. He said he’d be surprised if he finds out that the charges against Mr Mbowe are true. Dr Shoo said that the only way peace and prosperity can be maintained in Tanzania is through making sure that justice prevails, adding that it is his hope this will be the case in Mr Mbowe’s case. 

TPDF chief of defence forces Mabeyo in Rwanda for four-day visit

The Chief of Defence Force of Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) General Venance Mabeyo is on a four-day official visit to Rwanda, a statement released by Rwanda Defence Force on Tuesday said. The visit, which commenced on August 23, 2021, is expected to end on August 26, 2021.

According to the statement, Mabeyo paid a courtesy call to the Rwandan Minister of Defence Maj General Albert Murasira on Tuesday, after which he held bilateral discussions with his Rwandan counterpart, Gen Jean-Bosco Kazura.

The meetings took place at Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) Headquarters in Kimihurura.

Commenting after the meeting, Mabeyo described his visit as one that aims at strengthening cooperation between both military forces.

He also said that it was a reciprocal visit to the recent one by his Rwandan counterpart, Gen Kazura to Tanzania and stressed that such visits are a sign of the level of confidence and mutual trust between the respective militaries.

In May this year, Kazura and Inspector General of Police Dan Munyuza visited Tanzania where they held talks with their respective counterparts.

The two sides vowed to cooperate closely on border control and crime prevention, information and intelligence among other transnational crimes.

Meanwhile, earlier on Tuesday, Mabeyo and his delegation paid respect to the victims of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi at Gisozi Genocide Memorial and also visited the Campaign Against Genocide Museum.

Mabeyo’s is also expected to visit the RDF Command and Staff College and recently unveiled Kinigi IDP Model Village both based in the Rwandan district of Musanze.

Minister orders telcos to use #100 in customer services communications

The government on Tuesday banned telcos from using normal mobile phone numbers in their communications with their customers and instead they will have to use 100 for the purpose. Communication and Information Technologies minister Dr Faustine Ndungulile said in a Twitter post yesterday that the move aims at solving cybercrime in Tanzania.  

There has been a tendency where scammers posing as customer services officers from a particular telecommunications company have been calling customers of the given telco pretending to be inquiring about some of the services before they try to swindle the customer.

Normally, they would lie to a customer that a transaction has been wrongly deposited to their accounts and thus ask for them to return it. This is one among many other ways that tricksters use to swindle people. While some have been able to escape such scams reports indicate that many other people have fallen victims to the growing practice.

“As part of the government’s strategy to combat cybercrime, from now [Tuesday, August 24, 2021] on, number 100 only will be used in communications between telcos and their customers and not normal mobile phone numbers,” Dr Ndugulile said. “Citizens are urged to ignore customer services calls made through normal mobile phone numbers.”

On July 28, 2021, the government blocked a total of 18,622 SIM cards that were found to have been involved in criminal incidents in the country. The SIM cards were discovered during the period between April and June 2021. The government had also blocked a total of 14,768 national identification cards used to register the SIM cards.

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