Tanzania: Magufuli Under Pressure to Declare Covid Present in Tanzania

Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19
20 February 2021

The Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) has called on the Tanzanian government to declare the presence of Covid-19 in the country, and announced mandatory preventive measures after losing 25 lawyers by Friday.

The TLS, in a statement signed by its president Rugemeleza Nshala, noted that Section 4 of the TLS Act states that the bar association is obliged to give legal advice to the Executive, Parliament, the Judiciary and the public.

It said that denying the presence of Covid-19 in the country contravenes Article 18 (d) of the Union Constitution.

The body said the government should declare a second wave of infections and issue scientific measures for the public to observe as depriving Tanzanians of the right to accurate information could endanger their lives.

According to the statement, Tanzanians are witnessing a surge in deaths so the country should declare the presence of the disease.

Dr Nshala said that by providing accurate information on the disease, the government will be complying with requirements of Articles 14 and 18 of the Constitution on the right to information.

He said the bar association is closely monitoring the pandemic and efforts made by the government and the public to contain it.

"Denying the presence of disease will not permanently address the challenge. Rather, expertise is required to establish the cause, magnitude, effects and mitigation measures," he said.

Easing congestion

Dr Nshala also said Parliament should instruct the submission of official reports on the status of the pandemic, including actual statistics on the trend, patients, deaths, survivors and mitigation measures taken.

The bar association further asked the courts to preside over cases online, grant bail to more suspects to reduce congestion in cells and prisons, suspend some sentences, charge fines and order community service for some offenders.

"The hearing of appeals should be accelerated and temporary relief granted to reduce the length of detention for those who will not be convicted," he said.

He added, "The government should ensure congestion is controlled in public vehicles and during sports and cultural activities. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be bought and provided to health ."

Regarding vaccines, Dr Nshala said the matter shouldn't be politicized, and branded as "non-patriots" those questioning the substances used because people in other countries are being vaccinated and are not reacting negatively to the chemicals.

Church rules

While the media was advised to fulfil its role of disseminating accurate information on the pandemic, clerics were asked to protect worshippers.

Meanwhile, the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) has issued new directives aimed at reducing the number of worshippers attending services in churches countrywide while making social distancing mandatory.

On Friday, TEC President Archbishop Gervas Nyaisonga said the church has reduced the length of services and increased their number.

He said the faithful will receive the Holy Eucharist with their hands only, sit a metre apart and wash hands with soap and running water. Caregivers were instructed to protect themselves.

Health authorities, including Health minister Dorothy Gwajima were not immediately available for comment.

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