The office of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights issued its latest report on human rights in various areas of the world and registered its fear over democracy and freedom of expression in Tanzania, saying these values were being undermined.
Responding to the remarks in an interview with the UK broadcasting agency (BBC), the minister said the government was shocked by its contents and he expressed the sentiment that the compilers of the report hadn’t been in the country, as otherwise they couldn’t have issued the sort of evaluation presented there.
“First of all we have taken steps to ensure that today Tanzania’s Ambassador to the UN, Geneva Office, submits our official response on the report.
“The true picture in Tanzania does not correspond to what has been alleged. We have 17 presidential candidates, all of whom were conducting their election campaigns according to the timetable given by the National Electoral Commission NEC), the campaign rallies are being attended by multitudes of people,” the minister asserted.
He said in case democracy had been undermined, it wouldn’t have been as it is, as campaign rallies have been peaceful.
“A candidate says what he wants to say and whoever he or she engages in insults, does so as he sees fit and no step is being taken against him or her,” he further affirmed.
He said it isn’t the norm for Tanzanians to disregard statements from different individuals but it is their habit to assimilate what is good and discard the bad, sort out truth from lies, or alleged scandals and praises as per the real situation.
“If you read the report you discover there was something that it tried to portray to the world, that the CCM government under President Magufuli has brought huge development strides in areas which in 2015 were fingered out,” Prof Kabudi noted.
He cited issues of corruption and embezzlement of public funds that in the five-year period no one points a finger at President Magufuli for such ills.
Similarly, Tanzania used to be the hub of illicit drug trafficking, negligence in the public service, but now no one can point a finger at Dr Magufuli on those ills, he declared.
He said during the 2015 Election those were the agenda items for foreign countries sounded out by opposition parties “but all have been solved in the last five years.”
“Let me say the truth – when an African leader makes achievements, when they fail to arrest him over corruption, embezzlement and other vices, they must start pointing to democracy and human rights,” the minister remarked..
“Chapter Six of CCM Election Manifesto talks about human rights and development,” he stated, elaborating that in European countries political rights are given top priority, while in African countries these rights are given the same priority like economic and societal rights.
“There is no country in the world where you can point a finger at that country and say it has no human rights challenges,” he insisted, “so fingers are also being pointed at us.”
Everyday Tanzania was taking steps to strengthen the human rights situation, he emphasized, specifying that Tanzania is the only country in the east and central Africa region where local governments employ legal aid providers for people who cannot afford legal aid in regard to criminal offences.
On media freedom and involvement of activists, Prof Kabudi said many journalists have no work contracts or social security cover.
“If you look at the law governing the media and journalists’ rights for better work contracts, we have taken all steps to ensure the media operates freely,” he added.