Dar es Salaam. Human rights activist Mdude Nyagali complained on Monday that authorities at the Tanzania-Kenya Namanga border prevented him from leaving the country for Kenya after informing him that he needs a special permit from law enforcement organs before leaving Tanzania.
Nyagali, who doubles as a member of the opposition party CHADEMA, arrived at the border around 8 AM, where immigration officers detained him immediately after handing over his passport for processing, at first giving no reason for the detention except that they were carrying out orders from “above.”
He was later informed that there was a travel ban against him, and was handed over to the police at the border, where he spent two hours for interrogation. He was later released after being informed that the Director of Criminal Investigation (DCI) had issued the order, but it had already expired.
“Police released me and handed me over to the immigration officials to let me proceed with my journey,” Mr Nyagali told The Chanzo in an interview. “Surprisingly, they refused to let me pass, saying that I need an authorisation letter from the police. Police have yet to give me the letter, so I’m stranded here.”
By the time The Chanzo spoke with Nyagali at 4 PM, the activist had already spent nine hours at the Tanzania-Kenya Namanga border, unsure if he could continue his journey. Nyagali said the inconvenience disturbed his timetables, which would cost him more than he planned to spend.
“The guys I rented the car from are charging me per hour, meaning that the hours I’ve spent at the borders will add extra cost to my itinerary,” Mr Nyagali complained. “My work schedule in Nairobi has also been severely impacted, for I expected to get there at 9 AM, and now it’s 4 PM, and I’m not there yet.”
Paul Mselle, the Immigration Department spokesperson, told The Chanzo that he was unaware of the incident and asked for some time to follow up. Police in Arusha also said they needed more time to examine the matter before commenting.
Authorities let Nyagali cross the border at 5:00 PM, the activist wrote on X, formerly Twitter, thanking everyone who made some noise regarding his predicament.
Reports of Nyagali’s detention circulated on social media early on Monday, with his fellow activists and CHADEMA members calling attention to the issue, demanding authorities to let the activist free and proceed with his journey.
Some criticised authorities’ decision to detain him, describing it as a state interference in people’s freedom of movement, which is constitutionally guaranteed in Tanzania. Fellow activists interpreted the move as the authorities’ continuation of harassing critics of the government with the goal of silencing them.
Mr Nyagali agrees, telling The Chanzo in an interview that what is at play is just “politics.”
“Nothing can prevent me from travelling outside the country,” Mr Nyagali said. “They have yet to provide logical reasons to convince me otherwise. So, my conclusion is that this is just politics. Maybe they have these unfounded fears if I go outside the country, I’ll be engaged in anti-government activities.”
On August 18, 2023, police released Nyagali, alongside advocate Boniphace Mwabukusi and Dr Willibrod Slaa, after detaining him for almost a week after the three announced nationwide demonstrations to protest against the intergovernmental agreement between Tanzania and Dubai that would allow the Emirati logistics company DP World to take over some operations at the Dar es Salaam port.
Lukelo Francis is The Chanzo’s journalist from Dar es Salaam. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.