ALMOST all media houses in Tanzania on Monday took different approaches to highlight President John Magufuli hosting Ethiopian President, Sahle-Work Zewde in Chato, Geita Region, where the two dwelt on matters, ranging from trade to strengthening bilateral cooperation.
From their discussion, President Magufuli ordered unconditional release of all Ethiopian prisoners totaling 1,789 in Tanzania prisons, who were serving different terms for passing or entering the country illegally, gesturing for a good long standing relations between the two nations.
"We have spoken about allowing them to go back to their country...I told her that there is no condition, we will release them so that they go back and take part in their national economic development. "Some of these prisoners have stayed for seven years... transporting them (Ethiopians) back can be easy, because they have the Ethiopian Airlines plying between Addis Ababa and Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar," said the President.
The forgiveness (the attribute of the strong) displayed by President Magufuli is one of the best ways to decongest prisons in the country.
As leaders and institutions, this rare quality should be applied when addressing problems, which send many people, be they Tanzanians or not to prisons.
To control prison population we need to control two major factors namely: the prison reception rate (i.e. the rate at which persons are received into prison) and the duration in custody (i.e. the length of time spent in custody).
However, we must note that these two factors are affected by several other factors that occur before, during and after incarceration/imprisonment.
Factors and activities that occur before and after incarceration thus give an impression that the bulk of the remedies to redress any problem relating to prison population lie on the hands of agencies outside the prisons.
In fact it can be argued that the prison service does not determine the rate of reception into prison nor do they determine the length of time a prison inmate spends in custody.
That aside, President Magufuli explained that Tanzania and Ethiopia have had good relations since the introduction of the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 now African Union (AU) and during the independence struggle in Africa.
Looked at keenly, these countries surrounding Tanzania as far as Ethiopia, you name it have some common features and cultures their people share, implying that in one way or another, we are brothers but from different mothers, hence, there is no point of discriminating one another.
The same approach should be applied when dealing with minor cases of immigrants (read illegal) from other neighbouring countries entering or passing in Tanzania enroute to other countries.
In fact such terms were initiated by the colonialists to segregate us and see a brother from a neighboring country as a foreigner and should be reviewed, because at the end of the day we want to harmonise our relations.