22 September 2017

Tanzania: Government's Pledge On Lissu

The government said yesterday that it was ready to send Singida East MP Tundu Lissu to any country for treatment provided his family made a formal request.

The Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Children and the Elderly, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, said at a news conference in Tanga that the government had all along been willing to facilitate Mr Lissu's treatment anywhere in the world.

However, the government had not done so because it had not received a formal request from Mr Lissu's family or his party, Chadema, she said.

"I arranged for Mr Lissu to be airlifted to Muhimbili National Hospital from Dodoma on the day he was shot, but his family and Chadema leaders opted to take him outside the country."

Ms Mwalimu said it was normal procedure for a leader, be it a government official or an MP, to request for government financial assistant if the need for treatment abroad arose.

"The government has to receive a formal request first for medical assistance and also act on recommendations made by doctors. That puts us in a position to make a firm decision.

"Even when the late National Assembly Speaker Samuel Sitta fell sick he personally requested for financial assistance that would have enabled him to travel abroad for treatment, something which was granted," Ms Mwalimu said when explaining why the government had not offered any meaningful assistance two weeks after Mr Lissu was shot and seriously wounded in Dodoma.

She dismissed claims that government had refused to fund his treatment abroad.

"These are nothing but malicious allegations because we have always been ready to facilitate his treatment in any part of the world, be it in the United Kingdom, United States, or India."

Reached for comment, Chadema spokesperson Tumaini Makene said the party would respond to the pronouncement today, adding that Chadema had been dismayed by the government's silence since Mr Lissu was shot on September 7.

"We held a press conference on September 12, and asked the government to take comprehensive action, but nothing has been done to date. We are surprised that the Chief Justice (Prof Ibrahim Juma) and Health minister have today both spoken about Mr Lissu," he said.

Prof Juma said there was a need to instal CCTV cameras in cities and towns to prevent crime.

He was responding to reporters' questions related to a statement by the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales regarding the attack on Mr Lissu.

Prof Juma had called a press conference to brief the media on the forthcoming Commonwealth judges' and magistrates' conference scheduled for September 24-28.

Chadema said earlier this week $250,000 (Sh560 million) was needed for Mr Lissu's treatment in either the US or Germany, pending the approval of doctors at Nairobi Hospital.

However, Singida South MP Lazaro Nyalandu said doctors treating Mr Lissu in Nairobi had recommended that the lawmaker should not be transferred overseas due to his fragile condition.

The party has launched several fundraising drives to facilitate the treatment of the firebrand opposition politician in the US or Germany. The campaign had raised $52,455 (Sh116.71 million) by yesterday.

Mr Lissu was shot by unknown assailants when he arrived at his Dodoma home after attending the morning parliamentary session.

The Singida East MP was shot as he was about to disembark from his car in the municipality's leafy Area D suburb.

His attackers sprayed the front passenger door of his black Toyota Land Cruiser with bullets after Mr Lissu apparently hesitated to alight from the vehicle.

He was hit several times and was taken to Dodoma Regional Hospital where he underwent an emergency operation before he was airlifted to Nairobi.


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