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March 5, 2012

Kikwete Must Act Now Against Trigger Happy Policemen

President Jakaya Kikwete’s fourth phase administration, currently embroiled in untold economic problems, is left with three years and is very unlikely to fix the economy before its time is up.
However, if the man from Msoga wants to salvage both his personal image and the presidency and clear the path for his successor, there is one logical path for him.
He should make surgical operation on the top brass of the police force whose current conduct and operation leaves a lot to be desired.
It is extremely important that the President carries out such an operation with a sense of urgency before his own presidency is reduced to tatters!
In short, the police have lost the public confidence they enjoyed for many years and the only way out is for the President to off-load its top brass.
The president is however, very fortunate in that he does not have to grope in the dark in his quest to gather evidence for use in jettisoning the police top brass!
One of the most compelling evidence is provided by this week’s telling media leak that an office attendant for the Deputy Minister for Works Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, died in mysterious circumstances after providing questionable services to the ailing minister.
According to the Kiswahili daily, Tanzania Daima, the office servant who also came from Kyela District where Dr Mwakyembe hails from, is alleged to have provided the deputy minister with harmful towels and soaps.
When the deputy minister who had experienced consecutive itching decided to go for the towels with the objective of taking them to the chief government chemist for testing, they had disappeared!
And just when the deputy minister was preparing to take further on the office servant, (after she had failed to explain to him the whereabouts of the towels), she died suddenly, again, in mysterious circumstances!
And what makes the office servant death story credible and not a media yarn is that it was also confirmed by an official in the Ministry of Works!
The question is whether the office servant’s death is a normal occurrence of nature, a result of sickness or was it man made, given the fact that dead men tell no tales?
Now for those who have been following Dr Mwakyembe’s stories in the media, would recall that the deputy minister has said more than once how he has been providing the police with information on people he believes to be after his life since he cheated death in a motor accident in Iringa region three years ago.
One also assumes that information on this week’s latest media leak was given by the deputy minister to the police immediately the office servant who had been transferred to his office had died suddenly!
There is however, one important thing that the public ought to know about Dr Mwakyembe.
That is apart from Dr Mwakyembe being a university don, an elected member of parliament (Kyela) for the ruling party and a university law don, Dr Mwakyembe is a trained journalist who graduated from the Tanzania School of Journalism (presently referred to as the School of Journalism and Mass Communication of the University of Dar es Salaam) in 1975 with a first class diploma in journalism.
Before going to the UDSM to pursue his law degree, he practiced journalism for some years at the Tanzania News Agency (Shihata) which was at inception headed by Mr Benjamin Mkapa as its director.
In fact, the same thing can be more or less said about his legal profession.
Dr Mwakyembe was not an armchair lawyer, he practiced it through a law firm, the South Law Chambers, he first set up with his friend who had also worked as journalist for Uhuru before going with Mwakyembe to UDSM, Dr Sengondo Mvungi.
The foregoing information on Dr Mwakyembe’s legal and journalistic background is very important in understanding the kind of information Dr Mwakyembe provided the top brass in the police force who also happened to be his school mates and his former law students.
Therefore Dr Mwakyembe’s decision to leak the aforesaid information to the media appears to have been aimed at achieving two goals:
One, to rightly support his assertion that his strange illness is man-made, and secondly, that the police have all along had information which could have helped them nail those behind the crime, but simply decided not to act for reasons best known to themselves!
Before the deputy minister flew out for India for further medical treatment, he issued a statement to the media in which he complained that both the Inspector General of Police Said Mwema and the Director of Criminal Investigations Robert Manumba know “in their hearts that they have not done justice to him.”
In order to show the general public how close he was to both top policemen, Dr Mwakyembe said Mr Manumba was his classmate at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and Mr Mwema was his student at the School of Law at the same university.
But Dr Mwakyembe does not end there.
He goes on to accuse the police of working for his enemies, the mafisadi.
A pertinent question here is if the police who know Dr Mwakwyembe and the lofty position he holds in the society cannot work on information he has provided them, who else can such a force work for?
The relevance of the above question is based on numerous complaints one often hears from the public about some members of the police turning their services into business with highest bidders getting what they want regardless of where they stand in justice!
The other problem that is likely to bring problems to the president, internationally, is what the police have lately been engaged in, random killing of people on flimy excuses.
A case in point is that of Songea where four people were killed three weeks ago by police allegedly for stoning the police during demonstrations in the town.
What is very unfortunate about that incident is that the four people were killed when they were demonstrating in protest against police killings in Songea!
Therefore a protest against killings of innocent people led to further killings!
On the following day, the Ruvuma Regional Commissioner, Mr Said Mwambungu, spoke to those who had taken part in the demonstration, calling on them to refrain from being used by various political forces!
However, on the following day two more people were killed by none other than police despite four of them being arrested in connection with the killings of four demonstrators three days earlier!
And as a probe committee appointed by authorities in Ruvuma region was working on the issue, the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Shamsi Vuai Nahodha, told the nation through the media that the four policemen had not been directed by anyone to kill!
Interestingly, the killing by police of demonstrators in Songea is not the first time.
The police have done it in Arusha when they charged that Chadema members and followers had illegally demonstrated in the town, that they wished to take over the police station and procure arms!
In that incident, three people were killed, one of them a Kenyan national.
The police have committed many killings in Mara region in the past, especially around the North Mara gold mines.
For instance, in one incident in which guards at a mine killed a number of demonstrators, police were involved in ensuring the dead were not given decent burial simply because Chadema officials had promised to take part in the funeral.
In fact, if these police killings are one day catalogued by someone, there are very much likely to form a very strong base for a case at the Internatioinal Criminal Court in The Hague, hence the need for the president to act against the police as soon as possible.
The call for the president to act is based on the fact that the top brass in the police force do not appear to help the president by stepping down!
After bungling in his statement to the media about Dr Mwakyembe not being poisoned, one would have expected Mr Manumba to have stepped down, especially after his boss, Mr Nahodha and the Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Haji Mponda had disassociated themselves from the statement!
But that was not to be! The man has continued to cling to his post as if nothing has happened!
That is why the president has to act either by ordering both men to step down or for the government going public by announcing that they have been relieved of their duties.
However, off-loading the two men and other senior officials in the police would not mean that they were involved in Dr Mwakyembe’s problem and other issues, far from it.
The point is, the president needs to act in order to recoup the police image before the public.
The same thing can be said about the DCI’s planned move to seek the assistance of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in initiating a case against those alleged to be spreading information to the effect that Dr Mwakyembe was poisoned.
It is quite clear whom such a case is intended for, namely the Urambo East legislator (CCM) and Minister for EAC Affairs, Mr Samwel Sitta.
The police are best advised not to do what they want to if they want to save the government from further embarrassment!
Mr Sitta who is Dr Mwakyembe’s bosom friend appears to know more than what he has been telling the public on the source of his friend’s illness.
And if the police forced him into a corner in the form of court proceedings, he could end up embarrassing them and the government of the day.
It is important for the police to know that as a senior civil servant and a man who attained his law degree during the days when education was education in this country, the former Speaker of the National Assembly cannot go around to say what he has been saying without being armed with solid evidence!
To cut a long story short, the DCI should simply bury his case, work for his pension and call it a day.
There are still a few important things to do in his remaining days in life for a person of his level of education and professional attainment!

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