Dar es Salaam. Public Prosecutions Director (DPP) Silvester Mwakitalu on Friday withdrew his terrorism and economic sabotage case against CHADEMA national chairperson Mr Freeman and his three other co-defendants, in a move that observers of Tanzania’s political development think will further strengthen President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s political capital.
The development comes hardly two days since the Head of State held a closed session on Wednesday with leaders of Tanzania’s various religious denominations in Dar es Salaam where, among the things, the clerics pleaded with Samia to apply wisdom in finalizing the Mbowe saga that has kept tongue wagging for months now.
It also comes days after President Samia received the same plea from CHADEMA deputy national chairperson Mr Tundu Lissu who pleaded with the Tanzanian leader on the same thing during the former’s visit to Belgium where Mr Lissu has been since he escaped an assassination attempt in 2017.
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), 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.
With him were Halfan Hassan, Adam Kasekwa and Mohamed Lingwenya who together have denied all charges. On February 18, 2022, the presiding judge in case No. 16/2021 Judge Joachim Charles Tiganga ruled that the general evidence brought against the defendants was sufficient enough to allow the case against them to proceed.
Friday was the turn of Mr Mbowe to defend himself against the charges brought against him and signs of his possible release were clear since early in the morning by the failure of the Tanzania Prison Service to produce him under the pretext that he was ill.
Hopes for a possible release of Mr Mbowe and his co-defendants have been high since President Samia opted to meet with perhaps one of her leading critics Mr Lissu and they became even higher since Wednesday when a number of religious leaders told Samia to her face that she should consider releasing Mr Mbowe from jail.
A video of Mbowe’s supporters who had attended today’s court hearing showing them bursting with joy upon hearing the news of the release of their leader has made rounds on social media, giving an indication of the general mood that will characterize the life of many Tanzanians within the coming few days.
Shangwe la mawakili wa Utetezi ndani ya Mahakama, baada ya Mh. Freeman Mbowe kuachiliwa huru. pic.twitter.com/7zWpiDy1by
— Twaha Mwaipaya (@Twaha_Mwaipaya) March 4, 2022
“Happiness all around,” said Dr Thabit Jacob, one of the leading commenters on Tanzania’s political and development affairs, in a Twitter post. “And rightly so.”
Judge Tingatinga told the court Friday that he was withdrawing the case against Mr Mbowe and others from the court “unconditionally” following a petition by the prosecution that they no longer has an interest in pursuing the case.
“I, therefore, order the Commissioner of Prisons Service to release immediately the said defendants,” Judge Tingatinga pronounced. “Today, [Friday, March 4, 2022] and not otherwise.”