5 November 2018

Tanzania: Dar es Salaam RC Paul Makonda in Church Weeping Drama Over Backfiring Gay Crackdown Plot

Dar es Salaam — The Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Mr Paul Makonda, seems to be customising the habit of weeping in the church whenever he appears to be under pressure of some sorts.

The tough talking RC especially has been seen crying in public twice when campaigns he was the key initiator turned somewhat ugly.

Mr Makonda wept on Sunday, November 4, 2018 while attending prayers at Efatha Church in the city. Before that, he also in May wept at a different Church in Kimara. The question that needs answers is what would be the link between the RC's crying and the ultimate goal for some of his campaigns?

On Sunday, being a distinguished guest in the Church, Mr Makonda was given an opportunity by the self-proclaimed apostle and prophet, Josephat Mwingira, to greet the believers.

While greeting, Mr Makonda explained that he decided to go to the church so as to get divine powers to help him in the fight against homosexuality and other forms of 'dirty' actions by city residents.

He spoke a number of issues even as he dressed himself in a state of 'torment' for some time.

Whether he had known what was to come from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation or not on that day, remains everybody's guess work.

What is vivid however is the fact that later that day, the Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, issued a statement to distance President John Magufuli's administration from Mr Makonda's sentiments against gays.

Mr Makonda's going to Efatha Church where he wept was a continuation of the crackdown on gay people, the war he had initiated on October 31, 2018.

On that day (October 31) Mr Makonda announced the creation of a surveillance squad that would hunt down gays.

He told reporters that the operation would begin on Monday, November 5.

But in an interesting turn of event, possibly precipitated by international condemnation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation said on Sunday, November 5, 2018 that Mr Makonda was airing his personal views which did not reflect the official position of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Ministry, on behalf of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, wishes to clarify that Mr Makonda was only airing his personal opinion which does not represent the official position of the United Republic of Tanzania," the statements reads in part.

Whether Mr Makonda did not compare his notes with the Ministry remains everybody's guess work but is in record so far is that this is not the first time that the Dar es Salaam Region boss finds himself in church, weeping after launching a campaign that goes ugly locally or internationally.

In March 2017, he also shed tears when he spoke about the war on drugs while attending a church service at the Kimara Parish of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania.

While borrowing some words from the Holy Bible on how the Israelites moved through wilderness to their Promised Land, Mr Makonda unexpectedly jumped into the issue of drugs.

"Allow me to tell you one thing: History shows that war on drugs can never leave the initiator [of the war] safe. Whoever tried it was killed, jailed or faced some form of atrocities," he said. His speech was followed by a comment from the pastor and then hymns that saw him kneeling and weeping.

That was during the time when he was waging a war on people he suspected to be drug traffickers, dealers and addicts. He named bigwigs in hospitality, entertainment as well as transport industries, companies and politicians as among the key suspects.

When a number of key officials in the government, including the Drugs Control Commission, questioned the methodology that he (Mr Makonda) was using, he also found time to rush to the church.

In August, the Dar es Salaam Regional boss also spent some time in the church but this time around, it was in Ngara, Kagera Region at the height of a tax saga involving his containers which had been stranded at port.

After failing to pay due tax to the government over the containers he had imported, Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) issued a notice of auction for the goods but that did not go down well with Mr Makonda.

While in Ngara, Mr Makonda threatened potential buyers of the containers containing tables, chairs and blackboards valued at Sh2 billion meant for schools that they and their families will be cursed should they buy the items.

"I am attending the Sunday service at an Anglican church in Ngara, Kagera Region. I will hold special prayers to ensure that those containers will never be sold to anyone because I imported them for poor teachers in our region," he said, insisting that he had asked God to block the attempted sale of the items since they were meant to be distributed to Dar es Salaam schools.

But that was bother Finance and Planning Minister Phillip Mpango who ordered TRA to swiftly auction the 20 containers and trash the "curse" threats by the Dar es Salaam Region boss.

Dr Mpango said the imported consignment does not fall under the types of imports that deserve tax exemption, noting that the importer, Mr Paul Makonda, has no option but to pay the right import duty or risk the consignment being auctioned.

"Allow me to ask my fellow leaders in government to carefully select their words when speaking... How would one dare say that whoever buys these products would be cursed? How do we involve God in issues such as these ones?" he said, calling upon Tanzanians, willing to buy the products to do so.

For the first time, President Magufuli spoke publicly against Mr Makonda, the person many believe is his (the President's) confidant.

The President said Mr Makonda had no option but to pay the tax.

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