Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Monday, April 11, 2022.
LHRC calls for reforms in Tanzania’s criminal justice system
The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) has called for reforms in Tanzania’s criminal justice system, observing that a significant number of the violations of people’s basic rights are the direct result of unfair and unjust laws governing the justice system in the country.
The call is part of the recommendations contained in the 2021 Human Rights Report by the Dar es Salaam-based advocacy group launched on Monday at the Serena Hotel in Tanzania’s commercial capital of Dar es Salaam and attracted participants from a wide range of human rights stakeholders in Tanzania.
According to the report, which is the 20th since LHRC started releasing such reports, the situation of civil and political rights slightly deteriorated in 2021 compared to the year 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic said to have “significant impacts” on such rights.
As far as Tanzania’s criminal justice system is concerned, the report names lengthy pre-trial detention as “the biggest challenge facing remandees.”
Respondents, including community members, lawyers, and NGO officials, pointed out that lengthy pre-trial detention of remandees is “a serious challenge in Tanzania,” contributing to prison overcrowding and violation of the fundamental rights of accused persons.
LHRC documented at least 11 cases of people who are in prison for up to six to 12 years awaiting trial/hearing before the court. Through social media monitoring, LHRC also monitored and documented an additional eight cases/allegations of lengthy pre-trial detention, which has largely contributed to prison overcrowding in Tanzania.
“Pre-trial detention undermines the chance of a fair trial and the presumption of innocence,” the 672-page report observes. “It also puts remandees at a greater risk of coercion through torture or ill-treatment and poor legal representation, especially where the accused person is poor.”
Other challenges in the criminal justice system documented by the LHRC include delays in investigations and constant adjournment of cases; overcrowding in detention facilities; and misuse of loopholes in plea-bargaining.
Others are delays in taking accused persons to court; violations of rights of prisoners and remandees; lack of dedicated interventions and adequate resources for the social reintegration of ex-offenders and remandees; and denial of bail for non-bailable offences. According to the report, currently, 53 per cent of the prison population in Tanzania is pre-trial detainees.
As for the plea bargaining arrangement, key concerns documented by the LHRC include coercion of accused persons; misuse of power due to the leverage enjoyed by the prosecutor; reduction of the role and influence of magistrates and judges; and the risk of accused persons pleading guilty for crimes they did not commit, just so they can taste freedom again.
LHRC calls for the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to perform an oversight role of checking the quality and extent of evidence before admitting cases to court.
“This will reduce the backlog of cases which stay long in courts while the same authority, in collaboration with the [Director of Criminal Investigation] DCI, working on completion of the investigation,” the report advises.
Also, the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs and the Judiciary should take measures to address this problem, including having net controls against abuse of investigation processes.
This, the report says, includes requiring completion of investigation before a case is brought to court and demanding an increased pace of investigation by setting a minimum time within which a case has to be heard from the date when it was filed.
Other stories covered by The Chanzo from the report include Corruption Named as the Biggest Barrier to Access to Justice in Zanzibar; LHRC: Option of Fine as Punishment Obstructs Efforts Against Trafficking in Persons in Tanzania; and Here Is Why Most Tanzanians Are Negative About Writing Wills.
Tanzania: Food stocks down by 4,604 tonnes
Tanzania’s food stocks decreased by 4,604 tonnes from 207, 899 tonnes recorded in January 2022 to 203,297 tonnes recorded in February 2022, The Guardian newspaper reported Monday, citing the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) Monthly Economic Review for March 2022.
The decrease in food stocks held by the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) was due to the sale of 4,601.6 tonnes of maize and cereals to the Produce Board of Tanzania and Njombe Region for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) purposes, the review observed.
But BoT noted that the prices of the main food crops were generally higher in February 2022 as compared to the corresponding period in 2021.
“On a month-to-month basis, prices exhibited a mixed trend, with prices of maize, beans and finger millet decreasing, while those of rice, sorghum and round potatoes increased,” the report noted.
According to the report, the price of a 100kg sack of maize however decreased from Sh65,864 in January 2022 to Sh62,326 in February while the 100 kgs sack of beans slightly decrease from Sh185,156 to Sh184,175 during the same period.
The price of the 100 kgs sack of rice, however, increased from Sh181,992 in January 2022 to Sh185,774 in February 2022 while the price of the 100kgs of round potatoes also increased from Sh78,459 in January to Sh82,214 in February 2022.
Meanwhile, inflation during February 2022 remained within the country’s target of 3-5 per cent and in line with EAC and SADC convergence criteria, according to the BoT.
Axian Telecom reveals four priorities after acquiring Tigo, Zantel
Axian Telecom has highlighted four key priorities in a five-year plan to accelerate growth for its newly acquired unit in Tanzania from Millicom, which it pledges will be backed by significant investment into infrastructure, Developing Telecoms report.
The group said a key component of its growth strategy will be to bolster infrastructure over the next few years, the website said, citing CommsUpdate.
This will first support the company’s deployment of cutting edge technologies and services to boost the desire for digital transformation by companies in Tanzania.
Axian noted it and consortium partners have access to major backbones and submarine cables to support faster international connections.
Secondly, more affordable connectivity services will be made available as a result of infrastructure investment which the company pledges will be a strong 4G connection.
Next on the agenda is the driving of financial services which have proven to be quite a popular service among operators in Africa. Axian will look to develop bespoke services that meet Tanzanian needs, drawing from successful launches from its other markets.
Lastly, the company will aim to develop and nurture talent with a strong focus on mobility, agility, training and shared knowledge among employees of the merged unit.
Axian now has a foothold in eight markets: Madagascar, Comoros, Reunion, Mayotte, Senegal, Togo, Uganda and Tanzania.
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