The killing of Father Evarist Mushi was planned and if security organs had been alert, it could have been averted, the Archbishop of Dar es Salaam Archdiocese, Polycarp Cardinal Pengo said yesterday.
Speaking to journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday, he said although he was not expert in security matters, he was convinced the killing of the priest on Sunday was plotted.
He however called on Catholics in the country to shun revenge, saying this would help ease the situation.
He said the killing did not augur well for the nation, coming after the shooting of Father Ambrose Mkenda in December, last year.
“We have been receiving leaflets from people calling themselves members of Uamsho saying, the struggle would continue,” said Cardinal Pengo, displaying, one of the said leaflets.
He said the fact that he received one of the leaflets, shows that many people must have received them, and that the security forces knew what was going on.
Cardinal Pengo warned: “Allowing these clear acts of breach of the law to continue, is extremely dangerous and will plunge the country into chaos.
He announced that he will lead a funeral mass for Father Mushi who will be buried in Zanzibar, tomorrow. The service which will also be a prayer for the nation will begin at 10.00 am.
Meanwhile the government has been advised to come up with new investigation techniques including involving ‘wananchi’ and religious leaders to stop the killing of religious leaders and other innocent persons in the country.
Speaking to The Guardian in a telephone interview yesterday, secretary general of Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) Fr Anthony Makunde said the situation signaled a plot to destroy peace in the country.
The killing of Father Evarist Mushi, apart from shocking many Tanzanians, has also cast a dark shadow on the country’s good image.
For his part, activist Deus Kibamba said the government should look for effective techniques to end conflicts within the society which have led to the murder of religious leaders… He added that for sure the situation is bad.
“The government should immediately employ alternative techniques to solve the problem, because the culprits who are among the members of the community are jeopardising the country’s peace that has prevailed for years now. It is bizzare to see Tanzania descend into religious fighting,” he observed.
“…I have just received a text message telling me that the battle goes on until all the ‘kafirs’ are eliminated in Zanzibar…other messages have been aired through speakers installed at some houses of worship,” he said.
Dr Hellen Kijo-Bisimba, executive director of Legal and Human Right Centre (LHRC) blamed the government for not taking the matters seriously until the situation perhaps becomes worse — thus threatening the country’s peace, harmony and tranquility.
“Zanzibar is not so big an Island to make the government fail to arrest and control the criminals….December last year a priest was shot by unidentified people at his residence but survived. If the government had positively acted on the matter, maybe the killing of Father Mushi would not have happened,” she said.
Dr Kijo-Bisimba urged the government through its security organs to seriously work on the messages that are being spread through cellular phones, video tapes, documents and community radio stations with intent to destroy the country’s peace.
For his part, Same District administrative secretary Nathanael Mshana advised the probe team to widen scope by interrogating religious leaders, intellectuals, activists and the common people for details on the deaths.
Meanwhile, Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein has directed the SMZ brigades to add support to the probe team by collaborating with the police in the hunting of the culprits.
Speaking to journalists in the Isles yesterday Minister of State, Second Vice President’s Office Mohamed Aboud Mohamed said President Shein has issued directives to people to ensure that all persons of different religious denominations live peacefully.
Minister Aboud said the Zanzibar government in collaboration with that of the Union has embarked on hunting those behind the murderous network.
Following the incident Dr Shein discussed with the leader of Roman Catholic Church in Zanzibar, Dr Augustino Shao, on how to overcome such acts from being repeated in Zanzibar adding that from now onwards all prayer houses will have special security.
Dr Shao said his church has been shocked by the acts.
He said the situation in Zanzibar is tense, calling for the overhaul of the police in the Isles to improve its performance, including strengthening its investigation department.
He said sabotage against churches started over two years ago with the torching of houses of worship before the shooting of its leaders.
“These acts are threats and create fear, why are they only after spiritual leaders …is it because of the Union? Spiritual leaders are not Members of Parliament or Representatives or politicians. There is a hidden issue behind this agenda,” Dr Shao noted.
He called upon the government to beware of political leaders who want to mix politics with religion by bringing in the issue of the Union government.
Meanwhile, Police in Zanzibar have said that they have not arrested anybody in connection with the killing of Father Mushi, adding that it was only interrogating some people in connection with the incident.
In another development, an Association of Muslim Clerics (JUMAZA) has condemned the killing of Priest Evaristus Mushi.
“Jumaza call upon Zanzibaris to remain patient during this difficult moment and continue to preserve peace and unity under the government of the national unity,” said Jumaza secretary Muhidini Zebeir Muhidini.
Father Evarist Mushi of St Joseph Parish in Shangani Unguja, was shot dead on Sunday morning by unidentified people.
The incident took place at Beit-el-Ras area close to the Catholic Church at Mtoni area in Zanzibar Urban West.
Last year on Christmas day, another priest with Mpendae Roman Catholic Church in the Isles, Ambrose Mkenda was also shot by unidentified people at his Tomondo residence.
Reports said that Father Mkenda was shot twice as he entered his Tomondo residence from work.