The Chanzo Morning Briefing – October 21, 2021.

In our briefing today: Second judge in Mbowe’s case recuses himself; CSO Week organisers criticised over Ndugai’s pick as guest of honour; Tanzanian student dies in US after being shot at following minor car accident; Burundi’s Ndayishimiye is expected in Tanzania on Friday.
The Chanzo Reporter21 October 20218 min

Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Wednesday, October 20, 2021.

Second judge in Mbowe’s case recuses himself

A High Court judge Mustapha Siyani who was presiding over a terrorism case against CHADEMA national chairperson Mr Freeman Mbowe and three others at the court’s Corruption and Economic Crimes Division withdrew from the case on Wednesday, citing other responsibilities that would make him fail finalizes the case on time.

Siyani’s withdrawal from the case comes almost two months after his predecessor High Court judge Elinazer Luvanda took a similar decision on September 6, 2021, following a protest from defendants that they do not have confidence in him. It also comes almost two weeks since President Samia Suluhu Hassan appointed Siyani as the new Principal Judge of the High Court of Tanzania on October 8, 2021.

“The way I see this case is that it needs to be fast-tracked and when I look at it, it may take two months of hearing,” judge Siyani was quoted as saying. “Therefore, due to some more responsibilities that have been assigned to me, I’ll no longer be able to preside over this case, and therefore I will withdraw.”

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 before his case was transferred to the High Court.

He was arrested in Mwanza together with eleven other CHADEMA cadres — who have since been released — ahead of a New Constitution conference that BAVICHA had called and which Mr Mbowe was expected to be the guest of honour. Others in the case No. 16/2021 are Halfan Hassan, Adam Kasekwa and Mohamed Lingwenya.

Judge Siyani told those involved in the case that they’d be provided with the name of a new judge who’ll be presiding over the case, thanking them for their cooperation.

But before announcing his withdrawal, judge Siyani ruled against two objections brought forward by the defendants. The first objection concerned the explanations of second accused Kasekwa that the defendants wanted the judge to rule that they were taken out of time.

The second objection concerned the claim raised by the defendants that police tortured Mr Kasekwa to solicit explanation from him, and that he did not give them out on his own accord. 

But judge Siyani ruled in favour of the prosecution, saying that the defendants did not provide enough evidence to back up their claims.   

However, CHADEMA Secretary-General Mr John Mnyika, while briefing reporters outside the court, today said that they were not satisfied with Judge Siyani’s dismissal of the defendants’ objections, accusing him of “failing to exercise fairness and justice.” 

Mr Mnyika said the party would therefore arrange for an extraordinary meeting to deliberate on the possible wayforward while their lawyers and advocates are consulting with the suspects.

CSO Week organisers criticised over Ndugai’s pick as guest of honour

Some Tanzanians online have criticized the decision by the organisers of this year’s Civil Society (SCO) Week of appointing Speaker of Parliament Job Ndugai as the guest of honour of the once-a-year event, citing the legitimacy of the House that Mr Ndugai leads.

The organisers have nevertheless defended their decision, arguing that Mr Ndugai was a perfect choice because the works by CSOs relate with those done by the Parliament. Lulu Ng’wanakilala, Chief Executive Officer of Legal Services Facility (LSF), and one of the organisers of this year’s CSO Week said during a press conference:

“We saw it was important for Speaker [Job Ndugai] to be the guest of honour because the Parliament is an organ that represents the citizens, and we, CSOs, work closely with the citizens.”

But some, including leaders of opposition parties, human rights activists and members of the general public, criticized the decision, pointing out that the organizers’ decision exposes them as insensitive to people’s feelings about the 12th Parliament and what it represents.

“The Parliament becomes a citizens’ representative organs if Members of Parliament were obtained through democratic means,” Deogratius Munisi, Head of Foreign Affairs with the main opposition party CHADEMA said in a Twitter post. “Tanzanian MPs were not elected by the people. They were appointed by [then-President John Magufuli.”

The ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) won a landslide victory in the 2020 parliamentary election that opposition parties and human rights organizations claimed were marred by massive irregularities, including the cancellation of opposition candidates from the electoral process as well as facing other forms of state harassment, like arrest and detention.

“Does it mean that you are not aware of the clash existing in the community over the legitimacy of this Parliament and that it was not elected by the people and that it is a rubber stamp of the government?” lawyer and former President of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) Fatma Karume asked the organizers in a Twitter post.

Karume, who has been disbarred from practicing her profession Tanzania because of what she thinks is her activism, described the CSO Week organisers’ decision to pick Mr Ndugai as an “interesting business proposal” given how the Parliament has been notorious for enacting laws that make CSOs works in Tanzania difficult.

On June 27, 2019, for example, the 11th Parliament under Speaker Ndugai adopted amendments to eight laws including the Companies Act, the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Act, the Societies Act, the Statistics Act, and the Films and Stage Plays Act that human rights group Amnesty International criticized of introducing sweeping restrictions on Tanzania’s already precarious human rights.

The amendments to the NGO Act, for instance, gave the Registrar of NGOs sweeping and wide discretionary powers to suspend the organizations and evaluate and investigate their operations, according to Amnesty International.

The law requires these organizations, including community-based and self-help groups, to provide quarterly report to the Registrar but also publish their annual audited financial reports in mainstream media, something that critics have criticized as it imposes a cost burden that could bankrupt small, grassroots organisations.

Responding to the criticisms leveled against them, Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) Executive Director Anna Henga, a co-organizer of this year’s CSO Week, told The Chanzo on Tuesday that she’s okay with them because everyone is entitled to his/her opinion.

“[But] we have invited Speaker Ndugai because we need legislative amendments. You know that legislative amendments are done by the Parliament,” Ms Henga said. “For example, the NGO Act itself needs serious amendments and this is the work of the Parliament. We believe [Mr Ndugai] will understand us and, through his influence, and cooperation with the government, help us accomplish [the amendment of this law].”

This year’s CSO Week exhibition will be opened on October 23 at the Jakaya Kikwete Convention Centre, and the exhibition is scheduled for October 23 and 24 at the same venue. Conference sessions will take place from October 25 to 28 at Royal Village Hotel, in the capital Dodoma. This year’s CSO Week will take place under the theme ‘Civil Society and Development.’

Tanzanian student dies in US after being shot at following minor car accident

A 20-year-old college student was killed in a suspected road rage shooting Friday after causing an accidental car crash, Miami Herald reported on Tuesday.

Humphrey Magwira, whose relatives said had immigrated to the United States from Tanzania with his family when he was 11, died at a local hospital after suffering multiple gunshot wounds, the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office said.

The shooting led to the arrest of 19-year-old Houston resident Ramon Vasquez. He was charged with murder after deputies say he got out of his vehicle and shot Magwira.

Vasquez fled after the shooting but was caught Saturday morning, according to the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office.

“This senseless and tragic loss of life occurred as result of a minor unintentional vehicle collision,” Sheriff Eric Fagan was quoted by the Miami Herald as saying. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family as our Detectives continue their work on this case.”

Magwira was a second-year computer engineering major at the University of Houston. Plans to transport his body to Tanzania for burial activities are underway.

Burundi’s Ndayishimiye is expected in Tanzania on Friday

Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye is expected to arrive in Tanzania on October 22, 2021, ready to commence his three-day state visit, Minister of Foreign Affairs and East Africa Cooperation Ambassador Mulamula has said.

According to Ms Mulamula, the overall purpose of the visit is to strengthen ties between the two neighbouring countries.

Upon his arrival, President Ndaishimiye will be welcomed by his host President Samia Suluhu Hassan at the Chamwino State House in the capital Dodoma.

According to a schedule of events released by the government, here is the timetable of President Ndaishimiye’s visit to Tanzania:

October 22, 2021: At 10.30 AM President Ndaishimiye will meet his host President Samia Suluhu Hassan at Chamwino.

October 22 afternoon: President Ndayishimiye will lay a foundation stone for the construction of fertiliser plant owned by Burundi based Itracom Fertiliser Limited plant at Nala Industrial area in Dodoma

October 23, 2021: President Ndayishimiye will travel to Zanzibar where he will hold a talk with his host President Hussein Ali Mwinyi

October 23, 2021: President Ndayishimiye will return to Dar es Salaam where he will meet President Samia.

October 23, 2021: President Ndayishimiye will visit the Dar es Salaam Port to inspect the ongoing construction of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Dar es Salaam Station to Kwala – Ruvu dry port in Coast Region.

October 24, 2021: President Ndayishimiye’s delegation will leave Tanzania for Burundi.

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