Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Wednesday, February 16, 2022.
Here are the issues that might have dominated Samia’s meeting with Lissu
President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Wednesday met and held talks with CHADEMA deputy national chairperson and the party’s presidential candidate in the 2020 elections Mr Tundu Lissu, the director of presidential communications Zuhura Yunus said yesterday in a statement.
The meeting followed Mr Lissu’s request to meet with the Head of State who is currently in Belgium for an official visit. Mr Lissu, who once served as the president of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS), has been living in Belgium since he escaped an assassination attempt against him on September 7, 2017.
While Ms Yunus’s statement was very brief and did not dive into matters raised at the meeting between the two, however, the CHADEMA Vice-Chairperson shared some of the items discussed on a Twitter Space.
The first issue concerns the fate of CHADEMA national chairperson Freeman Mbowe and his three co-accused who are currently behind bars facing terrorism and economic sabotage charges. The court is expected to rule this coming Friday whether Mr Mbowe has a case to answer or the case should be dropped given the prosecution’s insufficient evidence.
“I asked the President to see what she can do in her power for this case to end as so far everything point out this is a trumped-up case.The case is not advantageous to her party, it causes pain to Mbowe’s and his co-accused families and it just cause division among Tanzanians”, reported Mr Lissu on what had transpired.
CHADEMA considers the case a trumped-up one and has been demanding the prosecution to withdraw it. CHADEMA’s stance is supported by other opposition parties as well as activists who work around democracy and rule of law issues.
Observers of Tanzania’s political scene think that this is the perfect time for President Samia to intervene in the case and have Mr Mbowe released from remand prison and many are convinced that this is the path the Head of State will pursue, especially now after having a tête-à-tête with Mr Lissu.
The second issue that was discussed according to Mr. Lissu is that he made his case with the President that the right of parties to hold rallies should be restored as its a constitutional and legal right
The third issue that has been discussed during the two’s meeting concern the demand for the government to revive the stalled constitution-writing process and the general political reforms that would provide Tanzania with systems and mechanisms to organize free and fair elections.
CHADEMA has made it crystal clear that it will not take part in any electoral undertaking if the government has not undertaken wide-ranging reforms into such institutions as the electoral commission and the police force for it thinks the way the system currently appears is unfair and tilted in favour of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM).
As far as the issue of the New Constitution is concerned, President Samia’s position has been that she needs more time to fix the economy first before she embarks on reviving the process as well as undertaking other political reforms.
“I made a case with Madam President that she has a rare opportunity to make sure our country has a democratic constitution, and a democratic system that allows for free and fair elections”, emphasized Mr Lissu.
Should we expect to see that stance changing anytime soon? It is hard to say. Suffice it to say that yesterday’s gesture by President Samia warmed many hearts and many agree that it is a step towards the right direction of building much-need political reconciliation in Tanzania.
The other issue is that the former Singida East MP (CHADEMA) reported that he has raised concerns about his own fate and that of other opposition politicians, human rights activists and journalists who fled Tanzania to seek asylum in other parts of the world after their lives were put in danger in the country.
“I explained to the President that I would like to come back home, and have asked her as the President if she can say something regarding my fate and guarantee my safety and safety of my colleagues Ezekiel Wenje and Godbless Lema who fled to Canada”
Numerous times Mr Lissu has mentioned his willingness to come back to Tanzania if the country’s law enforcement organs assure him of his safety once in the country, an assurance he demands include the launching of an investigation into the assassination attempt against him and bring its perpetrators to justice.
Until the time of writing, such an assurance from Tanzania’s authorities has not been forthcoming. Maybe we can expect one after today’s well-received meeting between Lissu and Samia.
Our position on the EAC-EU trade pact has not changed, Tanzania reaffirms
Tanzania said Tuesday that it has not backtracked from its earlier position regarding the East African Community (EAC) the new Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) following reports that it has finally agreed to join the rest of EAC members in signing the controversial deal.
On February 7, 2022, Kenya’s Business Daily newspaper quoted EU Foreign Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Mr Josep Borrel who reportedly told The East African newspaper that it was more likely now that the EAC would go ahead with the deal as a bloc after Tanzania changed tack.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta told me that, finally, it seems that we could have an agreement for the whole region because the new government in Tanzania is accepting to sign the agreement,” the paper quoted Mr Borrel as saying.
But according to the spokesperson with Tanzania’s Ministry of Investment, Industry and Trade Suzan Mshakangoto, the reports are nothing but mere “rumours,” adding that the country’s position has never changed.
“The government wishes to advise Tanzanians and the international community at large that Tanzania has not yet ratified the EPAs,” Ms Mshakangoto said in a statement.
The EAC was unable to enter the agreement as a bloc because Tanzania was against some of the agreement’s provisions. The agreement will see the region enjoy quota-free and duty-free access to the lucrative European market.
In 2015, former President John Magufuli declined to sign the agreement against the background of heavy criticism of the agreement by such people as the late President Benjamin Mkapa who described it as “antithetical to Tanzania’s as well as the region’s trade and development prospects.”
In her statement on Tuesday, Ms Mshakangoto said that the government is engaging the EU in “technical consultations” to ensure that the proposed deal addresses the interests of both Tanzania as a country and the EAC as a bloc.
“We will issue an official statement on the status of the EPA when technical consultations are concluded,” Ms Mshakangoto.
We did a small timeline that covers major events and announcements regarding Tanzania’s position on the deal since it was finalised in 2014. You can check it out here.
US recognizes TZ’s role in ensuring peace, security in East Africa
U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania Dr Donald Wright on Wednesday lauded Tanzania’s “vital role” that the country is playing to ensure peace and security in the East Africa region, the embassy said in a statement.
Dr Wright made the remarks while giving a keynote lecture on U.S. foreign policy and the U.S.-Tanzania partnership to students at the National Defense College yesterday.
Ambassador Wright was invited to deliver the lecture by the Commandant of the College, Major General Ibrahim Mhona, the embassy said.
“Tanzania is a key U.S. partner for promoting peace and regional stability in East Africa,” a statement by the Embassy of United States quoted Mr Wright as saying.
Ambassador Wright also noted that the 60-year partnership between the U.S. and Tanzania has brought numerous benefits for both countries in such areas as health and education; economic growth and trade; democracy; and peace and security.
“In each of these areas, our partnership is having a positive impact on the lives of ordinary Tanzanians while strengthening and reinforcing the bond between our countries,” he said.
The National Defense College routinely invites diplomats to deliver guest lectures to students in its Security and Strategic Studies Course, as part of its mission to equip defence and government policymakers with national security and international relations knowledge.
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