Tanzania’s Opposition To Boycott Elections Over ‘Cheating’

 

Tanzania’s opposition party says it will boycott local elections later this month, accusing the government of impeding its candidates from running and making a mockery of democratic processes.

Chadema, the main opposition outfit that has faced increasing hostility under President John Magufuli, made the announcement late Thursday following an extraordinary meeting of its leadership.

“Our party believes it is wiser not to support such electoral cheating. To continue to participate in elections of this kind is to legitimise illegality,” said Chadema president Freeman Mbowe.

Selemani Jafo, the minister for local government, expressed surprise at the decision, adding there would be remedies for candidates who felt they had been wronged.

But Chadema accused electoral authorities of being complicit in scuttling their campaign efforts.

Mbowe said several Chadema candidates had been outright disqualified by electoral officials from running in the nationwide November 24 polls to choose local government leaders.

Others had found registration offices closed when they tried to apply or discovered their applications had been tampered with, he added.

Rights groups say the intimidation of political opponents has escalated sharply under Magufuli, a strongman elected in 2015 whose administration has wielded wide-ranging laws to silence government critics.

Police have broken up opposition gatherings and shut down Chadema meetings, the party says.

Their activists have been kidnapped and beaten, and at least one has blamed authorities for an attack in 2017 which saw him shot multiple times.

Several have disappeared and turned up murdered.

“Magufuli and his party are afraid. We are not going to participate in this charade,” Mbowe said of the upcoming elections.

The victors in the local polls form the political backbone for campaigning ahead of general elections slated for 2020.

Magufuli, whose nickname “tingatinga” means “bulldozer” in Swahili, is expected to run for another five-year term.

His rule has been marked by a democratic backslide in Tanzania, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said in a report last month.

Free media has been cowed by draconian cybercrime laws, critical newspapers and bloggers have been silenced, and opposition activists harassed unlawfully, the report stated.

Tanzania Court Prohibits Marrying Girls Under 18 Years

 

A picture of the Tanzanian flag

 

A Tanzanian court has upheld a law banning the marriage of girls under the age of 18 in a ruling praised by rights activists.

The High Court in 2016 ruled that laws allowing girls as young as 15 to be married with the permission of their parents, or even 14 with the permission of a court, were unconstitutional and discriminatory.

However the state had appealed the ruling.

“We reject this appeal as it has no foundation,” the appeals court judges wrote in their ruling on Wednesday.

In an initial ruling the court found the current law discriminatory, as the legal age for men to marry is 18, and said it was contradictory that a girl considered too young to vote would be allowed to marry.

“It is a great day for Tanzanian girls,” the NGO Wasichana Initiative, which fights for the rights of young girls, wrote on Twitter.

“It is a joyful day for all girls and all those who want what is best for them,” said Anna Henga of Tanzania’s main rights group, the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC).

On average, two out of five Tanzanian girls are married before their 18th birthday, according to government statistics.

 

AFP

Tanzanian President Backs Official Who Caned School Pupils

 

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has lauded a regional governor who caused outrage by caning 14 schoolchildren, saying he should have done more.

Footage of the punishment, which went viral on the internet, showed Albert Chalamila, governor of Mbeya in southern Tanzania, giving three strokes of the cane to each student, all of them stretched out on the ground.

They had violated a ban on having mobile phones in their school and are accused of burning down their dormitory in retaliation.

The punishment was administered in front of the students’ schoolmates, police officers and teachers and unleashed wide criticism on social media.

“I congratulate the regional commissioner for caning the students and that was actually not enough. He could do more,” the president said on Thursday during a visit to a neighbouring region.

“Some people are talking about human rights but there is no way we can afford having arrogant students like these. They can’t burn a dormitory just because their phones which are not allowed in schools were taken by teachers.

“I told the regional commissioner to suspend all students in that school and their parents must pay before the students are allowed back to school. Those who were directly involved should be taken to jail.”

Under a 1979 law, corporal punishment can only be administered by the school’s director, and only in the event of serious breaches. The punishment is administered by a light, flexible cane on the hand or buttocks.

Corporal punishment in schools flared into a national controversy last year after a 13-year-old boy in the northern province of Kagera died of injuries inflicted by his teacher.

Human Rights Watch, in February 2017, said corporal punishment in Tanzanian schools was widespread, frequently “brutal and humiliating” and called for it to be banned.

Man Drowns While Trying To Propose Underwater

 

An American man has drowned while proposing to his girlfriend underwater at an idyllic island off the coast of Tanzania, a luxury resort said in a statement Sunday.

His girlfriend Kenesha Antoine posted on her Facebook page footage of Steven Weber proposing to her through the window of their underwater hotel room at the luxury Manta Resort in Zanzibar.

“You never emerged from those depths so you never got to hear my answer, ‘Yes! Yes! A million times, yes, I will marry you!!’,” she wrote Friday in a post confirming his death.

Her video shows Weber swimming up to the window, and pressing a handwritten note against it which read: “I can’t hold my breath long enough to tell you everything I love about you, but everything I love about you I love more every day. Will you please be my wife, marry me.”

He then pulled out a ring as Antoine squealed with joy while filming.

It is unclear what went wrong during the proposal at Pemba Island, a popular honeymoon destination.

“We never got to embrace and celebrate the beginning of the rest of our lives together, as the best day of our lives turned into the worst, in the cruelest twist of fate imaginable,” Antoine wrote.

“Knowing him, always quick with an off-color joke, he’s probably entertaining someone with a story about how he royally screwed up that proposal and died while being extra.”

Manta CEO Matthew Saus confirmed to AFP in an email Sunday that “a male guest tragically drowned while freediving alone outside the underwater room” on Thursday.

“The accident is currently under investigation by the local Zanzibar police authority.”

The couple were staying in the resort’s famed “Underwater Room”, a $1,700 (1,500 euro) a-night floating structure offshore in crystal clear waters, where the bed is surrounded by glass windows looking into the ocean.

Tanzanian Arrested With Tusks From 117 Elephants

In this file photo taken on March 20, 2015 an elephant splashes at sunset in the waters of the Chobe river in Botswana Chobe National Park, in the north eastern of the country.

 

A Tanzanian man has been arrested after authorities found a stash of ivory buried under his house, estimated to come from around 117 elephants, authorities said Thursday.

The suspect, who had been sought by authorities since 2016, had in his possession 338 pieces of elephant tusk, and 75 whole tusks, the minister of natural resources, Hamisi Kigwangalla, said in a statement.

He was arrested along with seven alleged accomplices, and the tusks are believed to have come from Tanzania and Mozambique.

“Until his arrest on Tuesday, he was unable to move this stock, because we have become extremely vigilant,” said Kigwangalla.

READ ALSO: Two Aid Workers Killed In ‘Ambush’ In Western Ethiopia

“I am giving a period of grace of one month for any person in possession of elephant tusks to hand them in to authorities without facing prosecution.”

Since 2016, around 1,000 poachers, some heavily armed, have been arrested in Tanzania whose elephant population plunged 60 percent between 2009 and 2014 due to poaching.

In February a Tanzanian court sentenced Chinese citizen Yang Fenlan — dubbed the “Ivory Queen” — to 15 years in jail for her role in trafficking tusks from more than 400 elephants.

Poaching has seen the population of African elephants fall by 110,000 over the past decade to just 415,000 animals, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The slaughter is being fuelled especially by demand in Asia, where ivory is used for jewellery and ornamentation.

Xenophobia: House Of Reps To Consider Reconvening As Gbajabiamila Cuts Short Tanzania Trip

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Tuesday, said that the green chamber may cut short their recess and reconvene to address the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners in South Africa.

The Speaker also announced that he is cutting short his trip to Tanzania, where he is attending the 50th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Africa Region) conference holding in Zanzibar.

Gbajabiamila disclosed his on his verified Twitter handle.

See his tweet below…

Death Toll From Tanzania Tanker Explosion Hits 100

 

A Tanzanian security officer controls the area where the carcass of a burnt out fuel tanker is seen along the side of the road following an explosion on August 10, 2019, AFP

 

The death toll from a fuel truck explosion in Tanzania on August 10 hit 100 on Wednesday after several victims perished from severe burns.

Aminiel Aligaesha, a spokesman for the National Hospital in Dar es Salaam, told reporters “two people died on Tuesday during the day, and another on Tuesday night”, bringing the total number of dead to 100.

Officials had put the tally at 95 on Sunday, and another two people were announced dead on Monday.

At least 30 of the victims died in the days after the accident, in which a fireball engulfed a crowd thronging to collect petrol from an overturned tanker near Morogoro, 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Dar es Salaam.

Officials said the explosion was triggered when a man tried to take the truck’s battery, creating sparks that ignited the fuel.

A doctor at the hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that most of those who survived the initial blast had suffered burns on over 80 per cent of their body.

“We are doing our best, but most of them are in critical condition,” said the doctor.

Many of the victims are motorbike taxi drivers who rushed to the scene to try to siphon off leaking petrol.

It was the latest in a string of such disasters in Africa and at least the third this year.

Last month, 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people tried to take the fuel.

In May, a similar incident in Niger killed nearly 80 people.

In the worst tragedy, 292 people lost their lives in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2010, while in September 2015 at least 203 people died the South Sudan town of Maridi.

AFP

71 Victims Of Tanzania Tanker Explosion Laid To Rest

Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli talks to medical staff and victims of the Morogoro petrol tanker explosion, at the Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam, on August 11, 2019. 
STRINGER / AFP

 

Tanzania on Sunday laid to rest most of the 71 people who died while trying to collect leaking petrol from an overturned fuel tanker that exploded.

The deadly blast, which took place Saturday near the town of Morogoro, west of the economic capital Dar es Salaam, is the latest in a series of similar disasters in Africa.

President John Magufuli declared a period of mourning through Monday. He was represented at funerals by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa.

Majaliwa spoke at a ceremony in Kola, less than 20 minutes from where the disaster occurred some 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Dar es Salaam.

READ ALSO: Death Toll Rises To 75 In Tanzania Fuel Tanker Explosion

He gave a new death toll of 71, along with 59 injured.

White coffins were lowered into graves by members of the security forces, after which Islamic or Christian clerics said brief prayers and tossed handfuls of earth on them.

A Pentecostal pastor named Mechak said in a service broadcast on television that “this should serve as a lesson to us. When there is an accident like this we should steer clear and let rescue workers do their job.”

DNA tests will be carried out on bodies that were burnt beyond recognition, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Jenista Mhagama said, adding that families could take the remains of their loved ones and organise their own burials if they preferred.

A woman who had accompanied her neighbour to retrieve the body of a victim at the hospital said: “When I saw the injured my whole body trembled. They had been burnt like pieces of meat.”

 ‘No one wanted to listen’ 

Witnesses said the truck tipped over as it tried to avoid a motorcycle, and locals quickly converged on the scene to collect fuel.

The explosion was triggered when a man tried to retrieve the truck’s battery, creating sparks that ignited the fuel, according to the region’s governor.

Footage from the scene showed the truck engulfed in smoke and flames, with charred bodies and the burnt-out remains of motorcycle taxis scattered on the ground among scorched trees.

A video posted on social media taken before the explosion showed dozens of people carrying yellow jerricans around the truck.

“We arrived at the scene with two neighbours just after the truck was overturned. While some good Samaritans were trying to get the driver and the other two people out of the truck, others were jostling each other, equipped with jerricans, to collect petrol,” teacher January Michael told AFP.

“At the same time, someone was trying to pull the battery out of the vehicle. We warned that the truck could explode at any moment but no one wanted to listen, so we went on our way, but we had barely turned on our heels when we heard the explosion.”

‘May God heal you’ 

President Magufuli on Sunday visited some of those injured in the blast at a hospital in Dar es Salaam.

“May God heal you,” he said to the 43 patients, some in very serious condition.

Majaliwa said Sunday that a special commission would investigate whether mismanagement had contributed to the disaster.

“While our now-dead compatriots were gathering to syphon fuel, did anyone try to stop them?” Majaliwa asked.

Magufuli has called for people to stop stealing fuel in such a way, a common event across Africa, saying he was “very shocked” by the dangerous practice.

Last month, 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people tried to take the fuel.

In May, a similar incident occurred in Niger near the airport of the capital Niamey, leaving almost 80 people dead.

Among the deadliest such disasters, 292 people lost their lives in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2010, and in September 2015 at least 203 people died the South Sudan town of Maridi.

AFP

Death Toll Rises To 75 In Tanzania Fuel Tanker Explosion

 

The death toll from a fuel truck explosion in Tanzania rose to 75 on Monday as four more people succumbed to their injuries, a hospital official said. 

“We deplore four new deaths. Their bodies are currently resting at the morgue while we wait for relatives to identify them,” said Aminiel Aligaesha, spokesman for the National Hospital in the economic capital, Dar es Salaam.

Funeral services which began Sunday were expected to continue Monday as the country concluded a period of national mourning declared by President John Magufuli.

The explosion took place Saturday morning near the town of Morogoro, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Dar es Salaam.

READ ALSO: Rocket Fire Hits Libya Airport, Breaking Eid Truce

The dead were trying to collect leaking petrol from the overturned tanker.

Witnesses said the truck tipped over as it tried to avoid a motorcycle, and locals quickly converged on the scene to collect fuel.

The explosion was triggered when a man tried to retrieve the truck’s battery, creating sparks that ignited the fuel, officials said.

It was the latest in a string of such disasters in Africa and at least the third this year.

Last month, 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people tried to take the fuel. In May, a similar incident in Niger killed nearly 80 people.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said Sunday that of 59 people injured in the Tanzania explosion, 43 had been transferred to the National Hospital in Dar es Salaam while the rest were receiving treatment in Morogoro.

Aligaesha said Monday that the remaining 39 patients at the National Hospital were “doing better” and that medical staff were “striving to provide them with the best possible care”.

Morogoro Governor Stephen Kebwe said the 16 patients there were also improving.

AFP

Deadliest Oil Tanker Blasts In Africa

A Tanzanian security officer controls the area where the carcass of a burnt-out fuel tanker is seen along the side of the road following an explosion on August 10, 2019, in Morogoro, 200 kilometres (120 miles) west of the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam. STRINGER / AFP

 

Here is a recap of the most deadly tanker blasts in Africa in the last decade, after dozens of people died in Tanzania on Saturday when a fuel tanker exploded after overturning.

READ ALSO: Tanzania Mourns 69 Killed In Tanker Explosion

Accidents involving petrol tankers have proved extremely deadly as locals often flock to the scene of accidents to scoop up spilt fuel.

May 6, 2019, Niger:

At least 76 people die in an explosion near the airport of the capital Niamey. Most of the victims were trying to collect fuel flowing from the overturned truck when the blast occurred.

October 6, 2018, Democratic Republic of Congo:

At least 53 people are killed when an oil tanker collides with another vehicle and catches fire on a highway west of the capital Kinshasa.

November 17, 2016, Mozambique:

At least 93 people are killed when an oil tanker carrying petrol explodes in the west of the country. Hundreds were trying to siphon off the fuel at the time.

September 16, 2015, South Sudan:

At least 203 people are killed and 150 injured as people try to recover fuel from an oil tanker following a road accident west of the capital Juba.

May 31, 2015, Nigeria:

At least 69 people burn to death in the southeast of the country after a petrol tanker loses control, rams into a busy bus station and bursts into flames.

July 12, 2012, Nigeria:

At least 104 people are killed as they try to recover fuel from a petrol tanker following an accident in the southern River State.

July 2, 2010, DR Congo:

At least 292 people are killed in a petrol tanker blast in the eastern village of Sange. Some victims were trying to recover fuel after the accident; others were watching a World Cup football match nearby.

October 9, 2009, Nigeria:

At least 70 people are killed in the southeastern Anambra state after a petrol tanker explodes and the flames engulf several other vehicles.

January 31, 2009, Kenya:

Flames engulf a crowd scooping fuel when a tanker overturns near Molo, northwest of the capital Nairobi, killing some 122 people.

 

Tanzania Mourns 69 Killed In Fuel Tanker Explosion

 

Tanzania was in mourning on Sunday, as the East African nation prepared to bury 69 people who perished when a crashed fuel tanker exploded as crowds rushed to syphon off leaking petrol.

The deadly blast, which took place on Saturday near the town of Morogoro, west of the economic capital Dar es Salaam, is the latest in a series of similar disasters in Africa.

President John Magufuli declared a period of mourning through Monday. He will be represented at the funerals by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, an official statement said.

“We’re currently mourning the loss of 69 people, the last of whom died while being transferred by helicopter to the national hospital in Dar es Salaam,” Majaliwa told residents in Morogoro, 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Dar es Salaam.

The number of injured stood at 66, Majaliwa said.

The burials were due to start Sunday afternoon after relatives had identified the dead.

“The preparations for the burials have been completed. Individual graves have been dug and the coffins are ready,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Jenista Mhagama said Sunday, adding that experts were available to offer psychological counselling to the victims’ relatives.

DNA tests would be carried out on bodies that were no longer recognisable, Mhagama said, adding that families could take the remains of their loved ones and organise their own burials if they preferred.

‘No-one wanted to listen’

Witnesses said the truck tipped over trying to avoid a motorcycle, before drivers of motorcycle taxis known as “boda-boda” as well as locals flocked to the scene to collect fuel.

The explosion was triggered when a man tried to retrieve the truck’s battery, creating sparks that ignited the fuel, according to the region’s governor.

Footage from the scene showed the truck engulfed in fierce flames and huge clouds of black smoke, with charred bodies and the burnt-out remains of motorcycle taxis scattered on the ground among scorched trees.

A video posted on social media taken before the explosion showed dozens of people carrying yellow jerricans around the truck.

“We arrived at the scene with two neighbours just after the truck was overturned. While some good Samaritans were trying to get the driver and the other two people out of the truck, others were jostling each other, equipped with jerricans, to collect petrol,” teacher January Michael told AFP.

“At the same time, someone was trying to pull the battery out of the vehicle. We warned that the truck could explode at any moment but no one wanted to listen, so we went on our way, but we had barely turned on our heels when we heard the explosion.”

‘May God heal you’

President Magufuli on Sunday visited some of those injured in the blast who had been transferred to a hospital in Dar es Salaam.

“May God heal you,” he said to the 43 patients, some in very serious condition, according to the doctors who accompanied the president.

Prime Minister Majaliwa meanwhile announced on Sunday that a special commission would be established to investigate if any management failures had contributed to the disaster.

“While our now-dead compatriots were gathering to syphon fuel, did anyone try to stop them?” Majaliwa asked.

Magufuli has called for people to stop the dangerous practice of stealing fuel in such a way, a common event in many poor parts of Africa.

He issued a statement saying he was “very shocked” by the looting of fuel from damaged vehicles.

“There are vehicles that carry dangerous fuel oil, as in this case in Morogoro, there are others that carry toxic chemicals or explosives, let’s stop this practice, please,” Magufuli said.

Last month, 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people tried to take the fuel.

In May, a similar incident occurred in Niger just a short distance from the airport in the capital Niamey, leaving almost 80 people dead.

Among the deadliest such disasters, 292 people lost their lives in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2010, and in September 2015 at least 203 people died the South Sudan town of Maridi.

Fuel Tanker Explosion Kills 60 In Tanzania

 

At least 60 people perished in Tanzania on Saturday when a fuel tanker overturned and then exploded as people rushed to syphon off leaking fuel.

The deadly blast, which took place near the town of Morogoro, west of the economic capital Dar es Salaam, is the latest in a series of similar disasters in Africa.

Morogoro governor Stephen Kebwe said the bodies of 60 victims were at the morgue of the local hospital, where more than 70 people were also being treated for injuries.

He warned that the toll could rise with victims possibly trapped under the truck.

Regional police chief Willbrod Mtafungwa told reporters there was a “huge explosion” after the vehicle overturned.

Witnesses told AFP by telephone they could see charred remains of motorcycle taxis and trees scorched by the power of the explosion.

Mtafungwa said the dead were mainly drivers of the taxis known as “boda-boda” and local residents flocking to the scene for the fuel after the crash.

A video posted on social media showed dozens of people busy trying to recover fuel in yellow jerricans.

READ ALSO: French Tourists Held In Greece After Deadly Boat Accident

– ‘Never seen a disaster of such magnitude’ –
The governor said the explosion was triggered when a man tried to pull out the truck’s battery, while witnesses said one of the people looting the fuel was smoking a cigarette.

Police later announced the blaze had been brought under control.

“The Morogoro region had never experienced a disaster of such magnitude,” Kebwe told reporters at the scene in the locality of Msamvu, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Dar es Salaam.

He said the tanker truck overturned on the roadside and the “fuel began to flow freely”.

“We have mobilised all the doctors at the Morogoro regional hospital so the wounded can be treated,” he added.

Such disasters are not uncommon in Africa.

Last month, at least 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people were trying to gather fuel.

In May, a similar incident occurred in Niger just a short distance from the airport in the capital Niamey, leaving almost 80 people dead.

Among the deadliest such disasters, 292 people lost their lives in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2010, and in September 2015 at least 203 people perished in the town of Maridi in South Sudan.