Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Friday, December 24, 2021.
UAE puts Tanzania in its suspension of entry for travellers list
The government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), through its National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA), has put Tanzania in its suspension of entry for travellers and transit passengers list that include other African nations of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Nigeria.
The new restriction comes into effect today, December 25, 2021, after 7.30 pm UAE time. There are exceptions, however, for those associated with diplomatic missions, golden visa holders, and official delegates, according to reports.
Friday’s announcement comes almost two weeks since the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put Tanzania, alongside France, Portugal, Andorra, Cyprus, Jordan and Lichtenstein under its high-risk countries, discouraging American citizens from travelling to these destinations over COVID-19 related risks.
The motivation behind such moves appears to be governments’ aims to protect their respective citizens against the global coronavirus pandemic, especially the ongoing fourth wave that is associated with the Omicron variant, which threatens to overwhelm the health systems of many countries around the world.
While the government of Tanzania denies the presence of the fourth wave of COVID-19 in Tanzania, authorities admit that indeed there has recently been a “resurgence of new cases,” urging citizens to take all necessary precautions to protect themselves against the deadly disease.
On December 21, 2021, the Parliament of Uganda announced that 50 Ugandan lawmakers and staff who participated in the just-concluded East African Inter-Parliamentary Games in Arusha tested positive for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Director of the Mnazi Mmoja Referral Hospital in Zanzibar Dr Marijani Msafiri told journalists yesterday that 89 people tested positive for COVID-19 on December 24 only, including 38 doctors and nurses from the government-owned hospital.
Following the Emirati move to blacklist some of the African countries, the African Tourism Board questioned the move due to the absence of COVID-19 infection numbers justifying such a move.
The board noted that such a move is endangering many jobs and the recovery of the already fragile travel and tourism industry in Africa.
Road cleared for LHRC’s case against controversial mobile levies
The road has been cleared for the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) to proceed with its case against the introduction of the controversial mobile money transaction levy following a decision by the High Court of Tanzania to reject the government’s application to appeal against a warrant LHRC had previously received to challenge the levies.
The levy, together with that on airtime, were introduced as part of the government strategy to finance its Sh36.6 trillion budget for the 2021/2022 financial year, with a total of Sh1.65 trillion expected to be collected from them. The mobile money transaction levy became operational on July 15, 2021, following an amendment of the Finance Act, 2021.
LHRC’s is one of the two cases opened at the High Court in Dar es Salaam challenging the levy that critics have slapped as unfair to people using mobile money services in Tanzania as well as for being ‘extortionist.’ The other case was filed by human rights activist Odero Charles Odero have filed the cases separately calling for the levies to be quashed.
On September 8, 2021, the High Court gave the LHRC the permit to file a Judicial Review application against the levies but the government wanted to appeal such a ruling. But the court dismissed the government’s arguments, saying that it was illegal to appeal against such a ruling.
It is important to note, however, that neither the issuance of the warrant nor yesterday’s rejection of the government’s intention to appeal against the warrant rule that the levies are justified or not.
They only mean that LHRC now can go ahead with its case that it filed against Minister for Finance and Planning, the Minister for Communications and Information Technology and the Attorney General (AG), which is scheduled to be heard on February 28, 2022.
Ten islets leased to investors in Zanzibar
The semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar on Thursday announced that it has leased a total of 10 islets to domestic and foreign investors in a move aimed at promoting the blue economy.
Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA) Executive Director Sharif Ali Sharif said during a news conference that more islets will be leased to investors in efforts aimed at opening up investment opportunities.
Sharif said a total of 53 investment companies, both domestic and foreign, applied to run investments on the islets, including the construction of tourist hotels and coral parks.
But neither did he name the companies that won the bids nor the islets that have been leased to them.
In August 2021, authorities in Zanzibar announced that about nine islets from both Pemba and Unguja were up for grabs for investors who are interested in investing in the blue economy.
“In total, the government will earn $261.5 million from the investments,” Mr Sharif told reporters. “Investments to be put up on the 10 islets are intended to support the Zanzibar government’s intention to improve and promote the blue economy,” Sharif told a press conference.
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