12 October 2017

Tanzania: Mdee Arraigned in Court Over Inflammatory Utterance

THE prosecution yesterday gave a detailed account, showing how Kawe Member of Parliament (MP), Halima Mdee (39) abused the President of United Republic of Tanzania, Dr John Magufuli.

Before Senior Resident Magistrate Victoria Nongwa at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam, the prosecution alleged that the words spoken by the MP against the Head of State were likely to cause breach of peace.

According to the prosecution, the lawmaker under Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) ticket is alleged to have said that Dr Magufuli "anaongea hovyohovyo anatakiwa kufungwa breki," which literally means, "what he speaks is not right, he should be restricted."

Presenting memorandum of facts of the trial, State Attorney Leonard Chalo, for the prosecution, alleged that on July 3, this year, the opposition MP was at Chadema Head Office, along Ufipa Area in Kinondoni District in the city.

While at the said offices, the prosecution alleged, the accused uttered abusive language against the President of the United Republic of Tanzania. The prosecution told the court that following the utterances of the said words, on July 4, this year, the accused was arrested at Kibangu area in Kinondoni District and handed over to the Regional Crime Officer (RCO) Office.

During interrogations, according to the prosecution, the MP confessed before the police to have uttered the abusive language. After completion of investigations, the accused was arraigned before the court to answer the charge.

In response to the facts presented by the prosecution, the MP denied to have admitted during the interrogations by the police to abuse the president. She only admitted to have been arrested by the police in connection with the claims.

Before her arraignment, the opposition lawmaker was locked up following an order given by Kinondoni District Commissioner (DC), Mr Ally Hapi, for inflammatory statements against President Magufuli.

The DC was quoted as saying that as the Chairman of the Peace and Security Committee in the district, he ordered law enforcement officers to arrest Mdee and hold her for interrogation for not less than 48 hours before further legal measures were taken.

DC Hapi derived such powers under some provisions in the Regional Administration Act, empowering Regional Commissioners (RCs) and District Commissioners (DCs) to order citizens to be confined for 48 hours.

Already, a constitutional petition has been filed before the High Court's Main Registry at Dar es Salaam to challenge such provisions on claims that they are against the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania.

When ordering the detention of the MP, DC Hapi told a press conference that his district is not a place for politicians to utter inflammatory statements against government leaders and abusing the president.

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