POLITICS

by David Brewin

Cabinet Reshuffle
Tanzanian Affairs 110 reported that President Kikwete had removed from office (or accepted resignations from) Attorney General Frederick Werema, Energy and Minerals Minister Sospeter Muhongo and Lands and Housing Minister Anna Tibaijuka in connection with the Escrow scandal. The President named William Lukuvi as the new Lands and Housing Minister and George Simbachawene as Energy and Minerals Minister.

Muhongo had earlier described himself as “incorruptible” and denied any wrongdoing. But Zitto Kabwe, chairman of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee, said that Muhongo “had to be held to account” as he had misled parliament by saying that Escrow money did not belong to government.
Others who resigned from parliamentary committees were Victor Mwambalaswa (Energy and Minerals Committee), Andrew Chenge (Budget Committee) and William Ngeleja (Legal Affairs and Governance Committee).

The resignations and dismissals were praised by Secretary General Mosena Nyambabe of the opposition National Convention for Construction and Reform (NCCR – Mageuzi) who said “We are satisfied with the steps the government has taken against senior government officers involved in the scandal, but we want further steps to be taken so that we see how committed the government is to dealing with corrup­tion.” (See also the Section on Energy and Minerals in this issue).

Swiss bank accounts
Deputy Governor of the Bank of Tanzania Juma Reli has reported that at least 99 Tanzanians were holding over TSh 197 billion in Swiss bank accounts in March 2015. A report released in February listed foreign countries which had large deposits in Swiss bank accounts. It did not disclose whether the amounts cited were illegal deposits or involved money laundering, but said that the maximum amount of money associated with any single client in Tanzania was $20.8 million.

Data control
The Citizen reported on 27 March that Parliament had approved a new Bill which could make Tanzania one of the strictest countries for publishing firms, researchers and academicians including those reporting on the forthcoming elections. According to some critics, the Bill would ban the publication of data if the statistics were not provided by the National Bureau of Statistics, as well as making it illegal to publish statistics that are “false” or that “may result in distortion”. The Bill had been withdrawn after it was first presented to parliament in February 2015 and had been widely criticised.

Executive Secretary of the Media Council of Tanzania, Kajubi Mukajanga, supported the criticisms expressed earlier, particularly the section on publication of unauthorised statistics. “It is amazing that they would retain such a provision now”.

Executive Director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre Hellen-Kijo Bisimba, said she was shocked that the parliamentarians should be so lacking in wisdom and grace. This is a desperate and calculated move by a draconian government keen on stamping out dissent and alternative views. We will not stop making a noise until this bad law is removed. It defeats logic that, while we are struggling to remove numerous bad laws, this government is adding more.

At the time of printing TA, President Kikwete had not yet signed the Bill to make it law.

Terrorism
As terrorism escalates, Tanzania has not been exempt. In early 2015 two persons were charged with facilitating acts of terrorism and, offering support to terrorists.

A 26 year-old Kuwait-born British citizen, Mohammed Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John”, was reported as having stopped off in Dar es Salaam some years ago, ostensibly on his way to Somalia. When he arrived at Dar airport, he was efficiently dealt with by the Tanzanian authorities and detained for about 24 hours before being returned to Europe.

In April there was a devastating terrorist attack by Al Shabaab on Kenya’s Garissa University College in which 148, mainly Christian, people were killed. A Tanzanian from Mwanga District was later reported to have been arrested in connection with the attack.

Local election results
Local elections were held throughout Tanzania in November/ December 2014. They were expected to give some guidance as to the way national elections in October 2015 might go, but it has proved difficult to find a reliable summary of what happened as the Electoral Commission only provides the national election results.

In previous years local elections have attracted only limited interest but at the ones held at the end of 2014 many people showed considerable interest and it is believed that there was a higher than usual turnout. It is also believed that the election result revealed a considerable shift of support from the ruling CCM party to the opposition CHADEMA in several key seats.

Alleged assassination plot
Wilbroad Slaa, Secretary General of CHADEMA, has been the subject of alleged plot to assassinate him by poisoning. It was alleged that one of Dr Slaa’s personal security officers was in communication with officers from Tanzania’s intelligence service. The police later confirmed that a security officer was under arrest and that investigations were continuing.

A Tanzanian success story

Julius Shirima

Julius Shirima

Julius Shirima, aged 25, has been awarded the Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development Work for 2015. This is in recognition of his efforts in setting up DARECHA, a micro-venture capital fund and entrepreneur net­work that is helping young business people to turn enterprising ideas into profitable ventures. The award includes a prize of £5,000. Julius also won the African Regional Award. (Commonwealth Journalists Association)

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