Dar es Salaam. Tanganyika Law Society (TLS), the country’s bar society, said Wednesday that it has received “with great shock and deep concern” reports that its member, renowned lawyer and advocate Rugemeleza Nshala, has had his life threatened following his criticism of the inter-governmental agreement between Tanzania and Dubai.
The deal, which has continued to polarise the nation, would allow an Emirati multinational logistics company DP World to develop and improve operations of strategic infrastructures for sea and lake ports in areas such as special economic zones, logistic parks, and trade corridors.
Supporters have lauded the deal, which lawmakers approved on June 10, 2023, as a “game-changer” for the country’s development, particularly in its goal to become a regional business hub. Critics have interpreted it as an attempt to “sell off the country” to foreigners.
One of those who have been critical of the deal is Dr Nshala, whose remarks during a discussion on the social audio app Clubhouse on July 3, 2023, landed him in trouble, including the claims that his life was in danger and being questioned by the police.
During the discussion, Dr Nshala, who doubles as the Executive Director of the environmental group Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT), described the controversial deal as equivalent to “selling the country off to foreigners,” pointing out that the decision to sign such a deal constituted “betrayal and treason” against Tanzania.
“In a republic, the president is a servant to the country’s people,” the renowned lawyer said. “When she begins to do things against her oath of office, I don’t know any other way of describing her than a betrayer and treasonist.”
Three days after making such remarks, Dr Nshala addressed a press conference on July 6, 2023, in Dar es Salaam to reveal that his life was in danger after being tipped by insiders on the plot aimed at “eliminating” him with his statements concerning the agreement named as the motivation.
“I called this press conference today to inform the public that I’ve received news from credible sources within the system that my life was in danger after criticising the agreement between Tanzania and Dubai,” Dr Nshala said.
Authorities are yet to respond to the accusations. Instead, police demanded Dr Nshala, who served as TLS president in 2021, to report to the Director of Criminal Investigation (DCI) office on July 11, 2023, as the law enforcement agency was investigating her remarks regarding the DP World issue.
In a public statement on Wednesday, TLS president Harold Sungusia described the alleged death threats reports as “alarming,” urging authorities to ensure the protection of Nshala’s constitutional right to life and protection.
“The threats against [Nshala’s] life are not only unlawful and unconstitutional but also a violation of fundamental rights,” Sungusia, who assumed the bar’s presidency in May this year, said.
He said according to the constitution, every person has the freedom of opinion, expression of ideas, and the freedom to communicate, with protection from undue interference.
“We further implore [law enforcement agencies] to conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and take all appropriate [and] lawful measures against anyone found to be involved in the threats against our esteemed member,” Sungusia added.