Dar es Salaam. Tanzanians on Twitter have had an almost unanimous reaction towards Friday’s decision by Public Prosecutions Director (DPP) Silvester Mwakitalu to withdraw his terrorism and economic sabotage case against CHADEMA national chairperson Mr Freeman and his three other co-defendants.
Many Tanzanians who use the social media platform to express their views on a number of issues on Friday displayed feelings of relief, happiness and contentedness following the decision that while they consider it to be overdue they haven’t stopped to regard today as one of Tanzania’s great days.
“March 4, 2022,” wrote Dr Nicodemus Minde, a Tanzanian social science academic researcher and analyst based in Nairobi, Kenya, referring to the day Mbowe was released from jail. “A day in our history.”
A political activist Maria Sarungi Tsehai, who has been campaigning for months to secure the release of Mr Mbowe, said that the release of the leading opposition figure is a victory to people who refuse “to back down or agree to keep quiet in the face of injustice.”
Bowing to public pressure
“The government of Tanzania has bowed to public pressure,” she said in a Twitter post. “After [holding him for] 226 days, [authorities] have released Freeman Mbowe. This is how we do it!”
Tito Magoti, a human rights activist with the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), reflected on how dangerous it was just a few days ago for one to associate themselves with Mr Mbowe.
“It was dangerous and sometimes unpopular,” Magoti, who spent times in remand prison on money laundering charges before DPP dropped them, reflected in his Twitter account. “But you made it, we made it. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Now, let the struggle continues.”
Turning the page
Other people who have reacted to the news so far include the US Ambassador to Tanzania Dr Donald Wright who in a Twitter post described Friday’s development as “an opportunity for Tanzania to turn the page and focus on the future.”
“Now, let’s work together to seize the immense opportunities that exist, and build a future of peace, prosperity, and freedom for all,” Ambassador Wright said.
Today’s dismissal of the case against Freeman Mbowe is a welcome opportunity for Tanzania to turn the page and focus on the future. Now let’s work together to seize the immense opportunities that exist, and build a future of peace, prosperity, and freedom for all.
— Ambassador Donald J. Wright (@USAmbTanzania) March 4, 2022
Zitto Kabwe, leader of the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party, said during a press conference in Dar es Salaam that he was “comforted” by the government’s decision to free Mr Mbowe.
He was briefing journalists about the coming Justice, Peace and Reconciliation conference that is expected to take place between March 30 and 31, 2022, in Dodoma under the auspices of the Tanzania Centres for Democracy (TCD) that ACT-Wazalendo currently chairs. President Samia Suluhu Hassan is expected to grace the meeting.
Mr Mbowe was brought before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court for the first time on July 26, 2021, before his case was forwarded to the High Court of Tanzania (Corruption and Economic Crimes Division).
He, alongside Halfan Hassan, Adam Kasekwa and Mohamed Lingwenya, were 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.
The four have however denied all charges.