Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania over the weekend.
Police report killing six Panya Road suspects in Dar
Police in Dar es Salaam announced Sunday that six suspects of the criminal gang Panya Road died on their way to hospital after being attacked by law enforcement officers who were forced to fire live bullets after the suspects allegedly resisted arrest and attacked the officers.
Law enforcers in Tanzania’s commercial capital are under pressure to maintain law and order in the city following the re-emergence of a group of marauders who go around attacking citizens with traditional weapons like machetes before robbing them of their properties.
There are cases also where the gang members have been storming people’s houses, attacking those present before robbing their properties like TV sets and other properties.
On Tuesday, the marauders invaded a Kawe neighbourhood at night and killed Maria Basso Paschal, a second-year student at the University of Dar es Salaam’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
Sunday’s announcement by the police followed high on the heels of the government reports that it was taking the reports on the gang’s activities in Dar es Salaam “very seriously,” with Home Affairs Minister Hamad Masauni directing the police to work “day and night” to put an end to gang’s activities.
“We are going to strengthen the security system at the ward level, the ward assistant inspector will have a huge task to make the system operational in dealing with criminals,” Mr Masauni told journalists in the capital Dodoma.
On Friday, Speaker of the National Assembly Tulia Ackson directed the government to “immediately launch crackdowns” against the criminals, saying “we need to protect the lives and properties of Tanzanians.”
In its report on Sunday, the police said that preliminary investigation shows that the leaders of the gang are ex-convicts who were freed because of various circumstances, vowing to disrupt the entire network and bring peace back to the neighbourhoods.
Tanzania held guilty of violating fundamental rights of girls
The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) Thursday held that Tanzania’s policy on the expulsion of pregnant and married girls with no opportunity of re-entry to schools and the forced pregnancy testing conducted in schools violates various provisions of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, according to a report by Jurist.
In 2019, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) filed a lawsuit against the Republic of Tanzania before the ACERWC to challenge the policy of expelling pregnant girls from school, which included practices like mandatory pregnancy testing, the expulsion of pregnant and married girls, denial of education post-childbirth, illegal detention of pregnant girls, and lack of access to reproductive and sexual health information and services in schools.
Human rights organizations have reported that, between 2003 and 2011, over 55,000 adolescent girls were forced to drop out or were expelled due to pregnancy, and 5,500 pregnant students stop going to school every year. CRR also documented Tanzania’s practices in its publication “Forced Out: Mandatory Pregnancy Testing and the Expulsion of Pregnant Students in Tanzanian Schools.” The report established how mandatory pregnancy testing is a serious infringement of girls’ rights to privacy and autonomy.
ACERWC held that Tanzania’s policy violated the right to be free from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, education rights, equality and non-discrimination rights, protection from harmful social practices and stereotypes, and the principle of the best interests of the child, the right to health including access sexual and reproductive health services, privacy and dignity rights.
ACERWC also observed that mandatory pregnancy testing of school girls violates their right to freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment and freedom from torture and abuse.
The Committee stressed that compulsory pregnancy testing, the subsequent expulsion of pregnant and married girls from schools, and the detention of pregnant girls could not be justified by any ground, as such acts constitute violations of the provisions of the Charter.
Reacting to the decision, CRR Head of Legal Strategies for Africa Martin Onyango told Jurist that Tanzania would be obligated to undertake legislative, administrative, and judicial measures to ensure that girls’ rights—including their entitlements to education, health, equality, privacy and dignity, freedom from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment—are enforced and that violations are prevented.
“And other countries in the region with similar restrictive laws against women and girls’ rights may follow suit and consider changing their laws so they are less restrictive,” Mr Onyango added.
In November 2022, the government announced that it was finally lifting a ban previously imposed on girls who get pregnant while at school that prevented them from continuing with studies in government-funded schools.
Govt works to end water shortage in the capital Dodoma
Minister for Water Jumaa Aweso said Sunday that the government would organize a meeting of stakeholders aimed at deliberating on means and ways of ending water shortage in Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania.
Mr Aweso announced plans to convene the meeting when he launched the third phase of the country’s Water Sector Development Program, a five-year initiative estimated to cost $6.5 billion.
He said the meeting will be attended by officials from the Ministry of Finance and Planning and development partners, but failed to provide the schedule of the meeting.
Mr Aweso said the national capital of Dodoma should be supplied with adequate water to meet the demands of a growing city.
He added potential development partners in the water sector will be invited to the meeting to give their technical and financial inputs on how to improve the water supply in the national capital.
In July this year, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASA) Executive Director Aron Joseph this week urged citizens from the country’s capital Dodoma to build the habit of saving water in their houses in preparation for water rations that will be reduced there.
Mr Joseph said ever since the government shifted its operations from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma the region has been experiencing water shortages.
He urged city dwellers to adapt to the new reality and abandon their old habit of not saving water in their homes.
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