Dodoma — DEPLOYMENT of the army to restrain demonstrations organized by any section of the society is not against the national constitution, provided the intention is to avert disruption of peace, the government has clarified.
Defence and National Service Minister Shamsi Vuai Nahodha informed the National Assembly in Dodoma that according to Section 147 (2) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, together with the Defence Act Number 192 of 2002, the Tanzania People's Defence Forces (TPDF) is permitted to work in collaboration with other civil authorities to sustain peace and tranquility.
"In that regard, deployment of the army to contain disorder, that upsets peace, is carried out within the legal ambits as stipulated in the Supreme Law, the National Constitution," Nahodha clarified.
Earlier, Mr Khalifa Suleiman Khalifa (Gando-CUF) asked whether it was justifiable for the government to dispatch the army to suppress riots in the streets and if the move was not practically the same as inciting hatred between the army and the civilians.
"Soldiers are equally trained to exercise minimum force to suppress unrest without causing harm to the people. In this regard taking duties to sustain peace is lawful and does not lead to misunderstanding as claimed by the MP ," Mr Nahodha clarified.
He said it was not true that soldiers were solely trained to kill as maintained by the legislator because in different occasions the army had been used to assist on construction of bridges, ferrying crops from one region to another, assistance in disaster management and distribution of relief supplies.
"The legislator was referring to the latest incident towards end of last year when soldiers patrolled the streets of Dar es Salaam especially in Kariakoo and Mkwajuni area in Kariakoo following threats by some residents to stage demonstrations, to press for the release of the Head of a Muslim Organization 'Shura ya Maimam', Ponda Issa Ponda, who is still in custody.