14 February 2018

Tanzania: Organisations Criticise Makonda's Directive

Dar es Salaam — The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) yesterday criticised the decision by Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda to dissolve land tribunals in the region, terming it illegal.

LHRC acting executive director Felista Mauya told a news conference in Dar es Salaam that the decision was contrary to what the law said about the resolution of land disputes.

She added that Mr Makonda had also overstepped his authority and usurped the powers of the Minister of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development.

Ms Mauya said Mr Makonda ordered the dissolution of land tribunals last Saturday after receiving numerous complaints from Dar es Salaam residents about long-standing land disputes, adding that the decision was "unprocedural and thus illegal".

"What the regional commissioner did was in direct contravention of the Constitution, whose Article 107A (1) clearly states that only the courts have the final say in the administration of justice."

Ms Mauya added that the LHRC was also alarmed by was she said was the continued tendency of senior government officials to act contrary to the rule of law.

Meanwhile, the Tanzania Local Government Workers Union (Talgwu) said it had been shocked by the "public humiliation" by Mr Makonda of two senior civil servants during last weekend's meeting.

Speaking during the gathering, Mr Makonda ordered the removal of the heads of the urban planning departments in Ilala and Ubungo municipalities, Mr Paul Mbembela and Mr Hamis Songwe, respectively, saying they were "ineffective". He directed that they be assigned other duties. Mr Mbembela fainted after the announcement and had to be given first aid.

Talgwu secretary-general Rashid Mtima told a news conference that Mr Makonda had shown "blatant disregard for basic human rights and good governance".

"We condemn in the strongest terms possible what the regional commissioner did. We wish to make it clear that we are not trying to defend errant civil servants. However, laid-down procedures must be followed in handling such cases. Publicly grilling and humiliating civil servants is wrong and indefensible," he said.

Mr Mtima said Talgwu supported Mr Makonda's endeavour to resolve land disputes in the region, but added that any such efforts must be within the confines of the law.

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