Sumbawanga — PRESIDENT John Magufuli yesterday waived the directive issued by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, and flashing the green light for the construction of the Istiqama community mosque, which had been suspended, to proceed.
The project is being undertaken on plots number 24 and 25 along Bomani A Street in Katandala Ward in Sumbawanga municipality in Rukwa Region. The dispute between the Istiqama community and residents of Bomani A Street here in municipality has been raging for more than ten years, the latter claiming that the former did not have the requisite permit for changing the plot's purpose from being human settlement-based to a house of prayer.
The Rukwa Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Joachim Wangabo, accompanied by members of regional defence and security committee, as well as all three district commissioners (DCs), relayed the President's decision at the site.
They were welcomed by the Rukwa Regional Chief Sheikh, Alhaj Rashid Akilimali. "I wish to inform you that President Magufuli has definitively resolved the dispute that has been raging for ten years. He has given you the go-ahead to continue with the mosque construction project up to the final stages," the RC said.
He further explained that the President had indicated that he would be ready to lay the foundation stone and to inaugurate the mosque upon its completion. Mr Wangabo further explained: "Besides the President's directive, I am hereby directing the Sumbawanga Municipal Council Executive Director, Mr Hamid Njovu, to ensure that all impediments against mosque's construction are cleared as soon as possible.
"I am furthermore directing that the Acting Commissioner for Lands for Southern Highlands, Mr Joseph Bakinamana, who is present here to ensure that the Istiqama community, who are the owners of the mosque, are given all the requisite documents related to land ownership immediately," he further directed.
The RC told the audience that the dispute arose in 2012 between the two sides and was referred to the office of the Sumbawanga municipality in 2014 and was discussed by the full council.
"The dispute was referred to the office of RC in October 2016 and immediately the RC submitted it to the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, whose Permanent Secretary responded in January 19 last year, directing that the ongoing construction be stopped with immediate effect," added Mr Wangabo.
He further elaborated that in his letter, the PS directed the Rukwa regional government to form an independent probe team to investigate the matter and its findings to be forwarded to the Lands ministry.
"To that effect, the RAS directed the Sumbawanga municipal director, Mr Njovu through a letter, to stop the ongoing mosque construction work on February 8, 2017." The latter formed an independent probe team which submitted its findings to his office in June last year and in September, its findings were officially submitted to the Lands ministry for further determination, but no response has been forthcoming to date," he said .
He further said that a week ago, he convened a meeting attended by representatives from the two sides in the dispute and other senior government officials whose participants were given the directive issued by the ministry of lands.
The RC said that despite the ministry directives, the construction process continued. The Rukwa Regional Chief Sheikh, Alhaj Akilimali, thanked President Magufuli for resolving the dispute amicably