Dar es Salaam. Some human rights activists in Tanzania have expressed displeasure over President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s decision to appoint Camillus Wambura and Ramadhan Kingai as Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) respectively.
President Samia sworn in the two on Wednesday during a function at the State House in the capital Dodoma, alongside other appointed officials, against the background of an intensive debate over the legitimacy of the two in overseeing law enforcement in the country.
Mr Wambura was serving as the DCI before Tuesday’s appointment as the new IGP. He is replacing Simon Sirro who has been appointed ambassador to Zimbabwe. Before his recent appointment, Kingai was serving as Kigoma regional police commander.
Wambura and Kingai played a significant role in the government’s attempt to convict CHADEMA national chairperson Freeman Mbowe and his co-accused of terrorism and money laundering, with the latter even appearing in court to testify against Mr Mbowe.
The case was dropped on March 4, 2022, after the Director of Public Prosecution (DDP) argued that he no longer had an interest in pursuing the case that CHADEMA and other rights activists labeled a political and trumped-up one.
While Wambura and Kingai were serving as DCI and Kinondoni regional police commander, respectively, a number of incidents also took place that brought the police’s conduct into question.
One of these incidents involves the disappearance of five men namely Tawfiq Mohammed, Seif Swala, Edwin Kunambi, Hemed Abbas and Rajab Mdowe who went missing on December 26, 2021, in Dar es Salaam to never be found again. To date, the police have not provided any explanations regarding the men’s fate.
Commenting on the appointment of Wambura and Kingai, lawyer and activist Fatma Karume told The Chanzo that with the appointments, President Samia “has shot herself in the feet.”
“She has made bad appointments that will impact her credibility and her commitments to the rule of law,” said Fatma who has been vocal in demanding that police follow the laws and regulations during the course of their work, especially when it comes to issues of arresting and detaining suspects.
According to Fatma, Kingai does not deserve to be the DCI, calling him “incompetent.” She argues that Kingai made up evidence against Mr Mbowe and that he is accused of mistreating the accused and failing to comply with the Police Force General Order PGO.
“[Mbowe’s case] was the case that was closely followed by the general public,” said Fatma during an interview with The Chanzo. “And the public opinion was against Samia in this case. It was against Kingai too. Kingai cannot be expected to lead a competent Police force.”
Tito Magoti has been campaigning against police brutality for some time now and he told The Chanzo that he was disappointed with the appointment of Wambura and Kingai as people who will lead Tanzania’s law enforcement organ.
“We are sliding backwards as far as policing is concerned in Tanzania,” said Magoti who works with the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC). “We have the right to be doubtful of President Samia’s motives when people who are on records of abusing their offices and framing dubious charges against innocent people are appointed as heads of law enforcement agency.”
Mr Magoti thinks that for the two people to be able to serve the public good President Samia should go a step further by forming an independent institution that “will police the police,” as he says.
This suggestion is supported by Bob Wangwe, an activist who has more than once found himself in trouble with the police mainly for his activism.
Mr Wangwe told The Chanzo that if Wambura and Kingai wish to earn people’s trust, they should ensure that they carry out their work as professionally as possible by aligning their work with the country’s laws and regulations.
“It is important that the police force have training programs for its officers that would equip them with the understanding of the country’s laws, police’s duties and responsibilities as well as the rights of citizens,” said Wangwe who doubles as Executive Director of the Tanzania Constitutional Forum. “Training is important to improve police officers’ efficiency and accountability.”
Need for reforms
Luckily, President Samia herself understands the need for changes and transformations within the country’s criminal justice system and its relevant organs in order to deliver what she calls “respect for human rights and the rule of law.”
During the function to swear in the newly-appointed officials – including Wambura and Kingai – the Head of State announced that she was going to form a special 12-member committee that would advise her on the best ways she can use to improve Tanzania’s criminal justice system.
She said the committee will be led by former Chief Justice Mohammed Chande Othman with former Chief Secretary Ombeni Sefue serving as his deputy. Some of the institutions that the committee will investigate are the police force, prisons, the judiciary and the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB).
“We are going to look at our criminal justice system with a new eye,” President Samia said during the swearing-in function. “This committee will be updating me whenever it is done investigating a particular institution. We will work on the feedback that the committee will share with us and come up with appropriate structures to improve our criminal justice system.”