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The Chanzo Morning Briefing – May 15, 2023. 

In our briefing today: Nation bids farewell to fallen veteran politician Bernard Membe; Tanzania investigates claims of possible COVID-19 resurgence; Special groups gather to demand more benefits from public procurement scheme. 

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Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania over the weekend.

Nation bids farewell to fallen veteran politician Bernard Membe

Tanzanians of all stripes paid their last respect to the veteran politician Bernard Membe on Sunday, with President Samia Suluhu Hassan being one of the mourners who showed up to bid farewell to the body of the former Foreign Affairs minister.

Mr Membe died on May 12, 2023, at the Kairuki Hospital in Dar es Salaam where he was rushed following a sudden chest pain. Mr Membe, who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2007 to 2015, died aged 69.

Mr Membe, who also served as a Member of Parliament for the Mtama constituency in Lindi, southern Tanzania, under the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) from 2000 to 2015, will be buried at his home village on Tuesday.

During a function at the Karimjee grounds in Dar es Salaam, President Samia described Membe’s demise as a significant loss to his family, the nation, and the world.

“His death has touched and saddened many people inside and outside the country,” Samia, who earlier described Membe as a “competent diplomat,” said during the function.

“He was a hardworking citizen who loved the country’s development and its people not only for his nation but also for others,” Samia added. 

Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Dr Stergomena Tax described Mr Membe as a hardworking leader who served Tanzania in various positions.

“He did a great job promoting and maintaining democracy between our country and other nations and also in international institutions and regional areas,” Minister Tax said.

“Membe contributed to building excellent and solid foundations in adequately implementing the foreign affairs policy for the benefit of our nation,” she added. 

“His courage and skill in building arguments, humour and love are the main marks he has left in the hearts of the leaders and employees in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Minister.”

Born in Rondo, Lindi region, Mr Membe was a national security analyst at the State House between 1977 and 1990.

A political scientist by profession, Mr Membe also served in other ministerial positions during his lifetime, including Deputy Minister of Energy and Minerals and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs before he started serving as Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs Minister, a position he served from 2007 to 2015.

As a Foreign Minister, Mr Membe played a critical role in several continental and international issues, which include, but it is not limited to, expressing support for the Palestinian people; defending democracy in Zimbabwe, Guinea, and Mauritania; and taking part in efforts to resolve ownership issues regarding the Lake Nyasa.

Membe was sacked from CCM, Africa’s second longest-ruling party, in February 2020, after accusing him of “indiscipline and flouting the ethics and constitution of the party.”

Membe denied any wrongdoing and explained that his expulsion was because he planned to stand for nomination as CCM’s presidential candidate in the election scheduled in October of that year.

On July 15, 2020, Mr Membe joined the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party, which ultimately fielded him as its presidential candidate in the October election. Membe came third in the final results, losing to CCM’s John Magufuli.

But in an interesting turn of events, on May 30, 2022, Mr Membe rejoined CCM after four years after writing a letter asking for readmission, going back on his word that he would never return to the party he served for almost his entire adult life.

Bernard Membe attended Rondo-Chiponda Extended Primary School for his primary education. He got his O-Level education at the Namupa Seminary Secondary School. He earned his A-Levels at Itaga Seminary High School.

He then studied political science at the University of Dar es Salaam. He also bagged a degree in international relations from John Hopkins University. Mr Membe also did a one-year national service at the Oljoro Military Camp in Arusha.

Tanzania investigates claims of possible COVID-19 resurgence

Minister of Health Ummy Mwalimu on Sunday said that authorities in the East African nation are investigating claims of a possible resurgence of COVID-19 disease, saying the information will be released to the public as soon as the investigation is concluded.

It followed reports of several people reporting to experience the disease’s symptoms, including fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, among other reasons.

The feelings were heightened by a statement from Uganda’s Ministry of Health which reported on Sunday that the Tanzania-bordering nation has reported “a wave of viral influenza” characterised by a runny nose, headache, and intermittent fever. 

“The Ministry of Health appeals to all symptomatic individuals to seek clinical care from the nearest health facility,” the statement said. “This may include testing for COVID-19 and checking for malaria.”

But Mwalimu told Tanzanians on Sunday that there is no cause for concern, noting that there are fewer cases of COVID-19 patients in the country.

“Based on the available information of people who tested COVID-19 between May 6 and May 12, 2023, only six people were found with the disease among the 288,” Mwalimu said in a Twitter post. ‘No COVID-19-associated death has also been reported.”

She said her ministry is following up on the matter closely and will update the general public as soon as new information is available.

Special groups gather to demand more benefits from public procurement scheme

Members from Tanzania’s special groups – youth, women, the elderly, and persons with disabilities – gathered here on Saturday to reflect on the implementation of the country’s Public Procurement Act, 2011, with the view of improving its scheme aimed at empowering the groups economically. 

The groups were brought together by The Chanzo, Tanzania Youth Vision Association (TYVA) and Mwanamke na Uongozi under the campaign dubbed Hatua 30, which means 30 Steps, in English.

The groups discussed how they could benefit more from the legal requirement that public institutions set aside at least 30 per cent of their procurement budgets to buy goods and services from companies owned by the youth, women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

Tony Alfred, The Chanzo’s Managing Editor, said during the workshop at the Rungwe Hotel in Sinza that several factors prevent the groups from benefiting from the scheme to the fullest.

“Many members of these groups are not aware of the opportunities available in the public procurement system,” Mr Alfred said while officiating the one-day workshop. 

“To benefit, they must demand government institutions play by the rules,” Mr Alfred added. “Therefore, public institutions must set aside this statutory percentage to buy goods and services from these groups.”

Full story here.

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