Several heads of the Southern Africa Development Community yesterday participated in a colorful ceremony to mark 51 years of Tanganyika’s Independence with President Jakaya Kikwete pardoning 3814 prisoners as part of the celebrations.
The SADC leaders who joined Tanzanian top government leaders in witnessing the colourful celebrations included Presidents Armando Guebuza, of Mozambique, Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, Motsoahae Thomas Thabane of Lesotho.
Others were Vice-presidents Khumbo Kachali of Malawi, Guy Scott of Zambia and Manuel Domingos Vicente of Angola.
Others are Prime Ministers Barnabas Dlamini of Swaziland, Dame Perlette Louisy of Seychelles, Dr Habumuremyi Pierre Damien of Rwanda and Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affair Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.
Also in attendance were SADC Secretary General Tomaz Salomão and Great Lakes Region Secretary General Luaba Alphonce.
A grand parade mounted by the members of the armed forces, children’s display and traditional dances started at around 10.00 in the morning after President Jakaya Kikwete arrived at the Stadium accompanied by Tanzania People's Defense Forces Chief of Defence Forces General Davis Mwamunyange.
President Kikwete received a 21-gun salute before inspecting the guard of honour.
Addressing thousands of Tanzanians at the Stadium President Kikwete said that the five decades have been marked by political stability and visible social and economic development.
He said this year’s celebrations’ theme was “Accountability, Integrity and Patriotism are the Pillars of our National Development”.
Kikwete said while normally independence speeches are given after every five or 10 years; he had to talk due to the presence of the 12 SADC leaders.
“I congratulate my fellow Tanzanians for celebrating the national independence. Our country has remained peaceful, politically stable, but there is also social and economic development that is vivid for everybody to see unless one pretends not to see,” he said.
President Kikwete thanked the SADC leaders for honouring Tanzanians by their presence on the special occasion.
Meanwhile, some 3814 prisoners received presidential pardon as part of the independence celebrations.
President Jakaya Kikwete pardoned the prisoners in accordance with the powers vested in him in Article 45 (1) (d) of the country’s Constitution, according to a statement issued yesterday in Dar es Salaam by Home Affairs Minister Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi.
Prisoners who benefited from the pardon include those serving short-term sentences (less than five years), who until the day the amnesty was granted had already served a quarter of their sentence.
According to the statement, the pardon also covered prisoners infected and affected by HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis (TB), cancer etc. The patients must have been cleared by a panel of doctors under the chairmanship of the regional or district medical officers.
The statement said it was the government’s hope that the pardoned prisoners will be law-abiding citizens, working with other wananchi in building the nation and not committing offences which could land them in jail again.
Others benefiting from the president’s pardon included people aged 70 years and above, whose age had been verified by a panel of doctors under the chairmanship of the regional or district medical officers.
The amnesty also covered breast feeding mothers and prisoners, who were sentenced to jail while pregnant and those with physical and mental disability. These must be cleared by professional doctors under the chairmanship of the regional or district medical officer, according to the statement.
The presidential amnesty excluded prisoners sentenced to death and life imprisonment; those convicted of involvement in illicit drug business, armed robbery, rape and sodomy, car thefts and impregnating primary and secondary school girls.
The amnesty also excluded prisoners convicted of corruption and vandalising infrastructure such as stealing telephone and electricity wires, railway parts and transformers.
The pardon did not also include prisoners who have been sentenced two or more times; those who got the first presidential pardon and are still serving the second part of their sentence and prisoners currently under the Parole Board Act 1994 and services Act-2002.
Also excluded from the presidential pardon are prisoners who had attempted to escape, those convicted of abuse of powers, and others convicted of preventing children from accessing education.