Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Friday, March 4, 2022.
New Chapter: President Samia Meet Freeman Mbowe
In what appears to be a continuing momentum in reconciliation and national building, Tanzania’s President has met with the leader of opposition party CHADEMA, Freeman Mbowe, a few hours after being released from prison.
“The main issue that we have discussed is that Tanzania is for all of us and it’s important for us to cooperate in building Tanzania. We need to trust each other on the basis of justice and when we commit to these foundations of trust, justice and mutual respect that is when we can have an opportunity to lead and bring development to our nation.” said President Samia.
Since December last year, President Samia has taken a series of steps that signal that she has put national reconciliation as one of the government key agendas. This included dialogue with democracy stakeholders and the meeting with CHADEMA Vice Chairperson Tundu Lissu.
“We have been in a loggerhead for a while now between the leaders of our two parties and we have passed through a lot of tribulation that we need to move past .” Said Freeman Mbowe as he is standing next to the President.
“We need to move to having civilized politics, to help the government perform its task and for the government to ensure we have the space for doing our job, democracy to flourish in our country and for people to be happy, something that the President has started doing. So the President has guaranteed us that will be done and we are ready to cooperate with the President”, continued Freeman Mbowe in his usual calm tone.
These developments come just a week since the government has released more than 50 people from jails across the country. Most of this people spent years in prison without trials, with most of them facing terrorism and economic sabotage charges.
Mbowe finally becomes free man after spending 226 days in prison
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.
“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.”
Milestones registered at TCD that make Zitto proud
The chairperson with the Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD) Mr Zitto Kabwe said here today that he considers the release of CHADEMA national chairperson Freeman Mbowe from jail to be one of the key milestones that the non-partisan democracy think-tank registered under the chairmanship of opposition ACT-Wazalendo.
Kabwe, who doubles as the leader of ACT-Wazalendo, gave the assessment during a press briefing he gave on Friday on the upcoming Justice, Peace and Reconciliation conference that is expected to take place between March 30 and 31, 2022, in Dodoma under the auspices of TCD. President Samia Suluhu Hassan is expected to grace the meeting.
Founded in 2005 by political parties with representation in the parliament, TCD serves as a platform to strengthen a culture of multiparty democracy in Tanzania through dialogue, consultation, strategizing and implementing an agenda for democratic development.
TCD’s current members are the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), CHADEMA, the Civic United Front (CUF), NCCR Mageuzi, and ACT- Wazalendo.
“There are parties that complained that their leaders are behind bars; that their leaders are not free,” said Zitto, referring to CHADEMA with respect to Mr Mbowe. “Now, these leaders have been released. What more could TCD have done?”
On Friday, Public Prosecutions Director (DPP) Silvester Mwakitalu withdrew his terrorism and economic sabotage case against Mr Mbowe and his three other co-defendants, saying he no longer has the interest to pursue the case, a decision Zitto said “comforted” him.
Naming another milestone registered in Tanzania thanks to TCD lobbying, Zitto said President Samia has been meeting with leaders of political parties in the country, collectively and on an individual basis, something he said is essential if multiparty democracy is to thrive.
These include the moment she participated in a conference to discuss the status of multiparty democracy in Tanzania held in Dodoma between December 15 and December 17, 2021. President Samia also met CHADEMA deputy national chairperson Mr Tundu Lissu in Belgium on February 16, 2022.
“Our main goal is to create a conducive environment for doing politics in Tanzania,” Zitto told reporters. “That’s why you see that even at this conference [of March 30 and 31, 2022] is not a platform for people to go and talk. We want as the conference ends bills are taken to the parliament and made into laws.”
Two pieces of legislation are of concern and the upcoming Dodoma conference is expected to give recommendations on how to improve them: the National Elections Act and the Political Parties Act.
Zitto said that already two bills have been prepared with assistance from the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) and if successfully turned into laws the bills will go a long way in ensuring free and fair elections in Tanzania.
“I believe that through TCD and other important stakeholders Tanzania will return to becoming a nation of optimism and that takes great developmental strides without affecting the political and civil liberties of its people,” Zitto said.
US sanctions Tanzanian for funding Mozambique insurgents
The United States has announced sanctions on Peter Charles Mbaga, aka Abu Kaidha, a Tanzanian national, for his role in financing the ISIS-backed insurgency in Mozambique.
Washington says Abu Kaidha facilitated fund transfers from South Africa, where he is based, and helped an armed group linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) purchase equipment on the South African market. The 45-year-old is further cited for seeking to purchase weapons in Mozambique.
US Treasury Under Secretary Brian E. Nelson said: “[The US government] is taking this action to disrupt and expose key ISIS supporters who exploit South Africa’s financial system to facilitate the funding of ISIS affiliates and networks across Africa.”
Along with Mbaga, the US also sanctioned an Ethiopian Abdella Hussein Abadigga, from Oromia, who lives in Johannesburg as a refugee and two South African nationals – Farhad Hoomer and Siraaj Miller. The ISIS-linked individuals are designated as financial facilitators of terrorism.
Russia agrees to Tanzanian students in Ukraine to use its border
Russia cleared the route for Tanzanian students in Ukraine planning to return to Tanzania to use its border following diplomatic arrangements between the embassy of Tanzania and Moscow and that in Stockholm, according to a communique released Friday.
“Tanzania Embassy in Stockholm and the High Commission in Moscow informs Tanzanian students in Sumy, Ukraine, that Russia has agreed to use its border for their repatriation,” the statement read in part.
It said the plan to evacuate all Tanzanian students at the Sumy State University is being coordinated by the Federal government of Russia.
The Embassies appealed, however, that students and their parents remain calm as the process gets underway.
Construction of Tanzania’s commercial complex in Kenya should start, VP orders
Vice President Phillip Mpango on Thursday ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance and Planning to immediately start construction work on the 23-storey embassy building in Kenya.
The construction work was planned to begin in May this year but construction stalled because the government had not provided money for the construction of the complex which is expected to be a source of revenue to the government.
Speaking shortly after visiting the Upper Hill area on Thursday, however, Dr Mpango said the state has so far released the required money for the work to begin and so the construction has to begin.
Dr Mpango is in Kenya to represent President Samia Suluhu Hassan in a Special Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly slated for March 3 and 4, 2022, where more than 100 nations convened in Nairobi for the summit took the first steps toward establishing a historic global treaty to tackle the plastic crisis afflicting the planet.
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