On January 5, this year, one local newspaper wrote: “Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) commemorates those killed during a mass demonstration in Arusha in January, last year.”
One Kiswahili newspaper wrote: “Chadema national leaders will today lead thousands of Arusha City residents to commemorate the 1st death anniversary of those brutally killed by the police on January 5, last year.”
According to Arusha Chadema regional secretary Amani Golugwa, the police force permitted the demonstration and meeting of Chadema members and supporters.
It was also said that Chadema senior leaders would visit two widows left by their loved ones, Ismail Oma and Dennis Shirima and 20 Chadema members and supporters, who sustained injuries and those, who had paid for their treatment and care to know about their situation and show them that they were together in the struggle for changes.
I am not quite sure whether everything said has materialised.
Nevertheless, since the issue is still pending in court, I wouldn’t like to go into details as that will be interfering with court proceedings. But commemorating those killed in Arusha, while going to invade the police station as party heroes, raises some questions.
There is a need to educate members of the public about the whole incidence and put things in the right perspective. In my opinion, if the police force and the judiciary will not play their role well, there will be a miscarriage of justice, which will ultimately lead to social unrest.
I keep asking myself, has the verdict been reached in the case pending in court that is why Chadema decided to commemorate the death anniversary of its so-called heroes? In other words, has the court declared those killed, injured or arraigned for any reason related to the demonstration and unlawful assembly in Arusha not guilty?
If the court has reached the verdict, I have no problem. But if not, I don’t understand why, while the case is still pending in court, Chadema commemorates the event, which is connected to the issue still pending in court!
Tanzanians should know that, if those killed had been alive, they would have been among the accused and their case would still be pending in court.
In my opinion, commemorating people, who caused or contributed to what happened to them, should be used as part of evidence in court. The commemoration attests to the fact that, while there were people, who uttered certain statements, others believed and acted on them.
As a result, some demonstrators were caught, some were injured and others were killed as they were going to invade the police station.
That is why people, who intend to or break the peace and risk national security have to be dealt with. Actually, if those people had not been killed, they would have been among the accused and so to commemorate them as heroes leaves a lot of questions!
Although it is good to have a fair hearing for the concerned parties, there is a need for incitement cases to be dealt with as soon as possible to protect peace and national security and prevent acts that lead to violence.
Towards the end of last year, Vice President Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal, was quoted by the media as saying, “politicians in the country should know that, Tanzanians want to see their country developing and not entering into conflict or violence of any kind for it does not benefit anybody.”
He warned against politicians, who sought for popularity and power so that they could do anything with impunity. Such politicians want to take over the duty of the police, judges and wardens.
Dr Bilal wanted politicians particularly those from opposition parties to show society that if they were put into power they could lead by example and not incite riots or oppose everything the government is doing. This is not part of our cultures. Dr Bilal’s statement is full with wisdom and being a statement from a national leader, it directs public order institutions including the judiciary to play its part by administering justice fairly and in good time.
Nowadays we see some Tanzanians complaining about everything and they think by doing so they become famous. We know they have their own hidden agenda to destroy society. They seek for cheap popularity by spending a lot of time talking about pressing problems but doing nothing to solve them. They are actually undermining the foundations of our society, which are unity, peace and security.
To have heroes of this type is dangerous to our national peace and development.
Courts of law should know that, society is tired of a few individuals who just seek for popularity as if they have the copyright of what Tanzanians think and want to do. They pretend they are the ones, who know better what we need than our national leaders.
If we are to put two groups at a balance, which group has a lager number of people: demonstrators or non-demonstrators? Who are the majority: those, who rioted in Arusha or those who did not? Why do a few people want to threaten the peace and security of the whole nation?
It this very reason that, peace loving people are surprised at the commemoration, which took place, while the issue was still pending in court. On the other hand, this is to tell the court it is delaying the verdict and if it is reached, people may oppose it, something, which can cause social unrest and conflict between the court and society.
On the other hand, we can say the commemoration has interfered with judicial independence to administer justice, taking into account Chadema’s activism. The courts and judges are safe if, they will satisfy themselves that the evidence given makes the accused guilty.
Will they have the courage to reach a stern verdict?
The commemoration of Chadema’s heroes to say the least, interferes with judicial the court independence – it is contempt of court. Any court judgment given will be looked at with society that it is an influence from a certain party.
Under these circumstances, slow proceedings mean inviting society to force the court to do justice to the accused of unlawful demonstration and assembly and threatening national peace.
So, what is delaying the court to reach the verdict and put things in black and white – to know whether the Chadema commemoration is justified or not?
Which direction our nation is going to – to make rioters and those defying national laws heroes? I’m not opposed to people doing politics but politics should not be turned into incitement and causing others to be killed or injured, while others enjoying flesh air in their posh cars.
Society must be well informed so that it gets a lesson that, often rioting caused by demonstrations, which have no use end up being making others baits of political interests.
We have to ask ourselves what criterion does it make one a hero? How do we get heroes, while we are not fighting for independence or a common enemy?
I would like to conclude by quoting Inspector General of Police Saidi Mwema, who once said, “People and political parties have the right to stage demonstrations but people should also know that they have the corresponding duty to respect laws because rights and duties are like a chicken and an egg – they are interdependent.
You cannot get an egg without a chicken and you cannot get a chicken without having an egg; this is what it is with the rights and duties.”
So, it is right to assert that, to recognise and announce the accused as heroes, is disgraceful. According to police reports, investigation and gathering of evidence on the case facing some Chadema leaders and members are still going on, although getting evidence is one thing and presenting it in a court of law is another.
What I’m sure of is that, when the time comes there will be those who to be held accountable for property damage, injuries and the death of those thought to be heroes.
Is it not the police force, which was fulfilling its duty against demonstrators, protecting property and road infrastructure and against those going to invade the police station?
The court’s judgment will be the one to determine where the truth lies and from there members of the public, political parties, politicians and activists will know where the truth is.
Then, they can raise their voices, recognise those who died as heroes or accused. To do otherwise, is to interfere with court proceedings and that amounts to contempt of court. This should be taken against those commemorating their heroes, while the issue is still pending in court!