Magufuli marks Union Day by making Dodoma a city

27Apr 2018
Polycarp Machira
The Guardian
Magufuli marks Union Day by making Dodoma a city
  • President expresses surprise that the once sleepy, dusty town has maintained municipality status despite now hosting both the country’s government and parliament

THE once sleepy, semi-arid municipality of Dodoma has now been officially granted city status, marking the latest milestone in the fifth phase government’s steps to fully integrate it as the nation’s new capital.

Announcing the ‘promotion’ during yesterday’s Union anniversary commemoration here, President John Magufuli directed that all legal procedures should now be hastened to make Dodoma a fully-fledged city.

"With powers bestowed on me, I declare Dodoma a city and call on the relevant authorities to follow the due legal process to implement this decision," Magufuli said.

He expressed some surprise that while Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Arusha, Mwanza and Mbeya are all recognized as cities, Dodoma has maintained municipality status despite the fact that it now hosts the country’s government as well as parliament.

According to Magufuli, Dodoma will henceforth be moulded into a city of its own kind, based on its strategic positioning at the very centre of the nation.

He called on various stakeholders and area residents to embrace the status change and help develop Dodoma to the point where it completely fits its new status as the country’s youngest city.

The African Development Bank (AfDB), whose own president Akinumwi Adesina also attended the Union anniversary event, can also chip in by financing the construction of ring roads around Dodoma, Magufuli said.

Adesina is today scheduled to accompany the president to the official launch of the 251-kilometre Dodoma-Babati highway built as a collaboration between the government of Tanzania and AfDB.

Meanwhile, President Magufuli yesterday reiterated his government’s resolve to stave off both internal and external and internal forces bent on breaking up the 54-year old Union, which he described as a symbol of national strength and unity that all Tanzanians must protect at all costs.

“I will not allow any person from within or outside the country to interfere with our Union and our peace,” the president told a large crowd gathered at the Jamhuri Stadium in Dodoma.

Breaking the norm of giving an official presidential speech on such occasions, Magufuli simply said that since his predecessors upheld the Union, he has to do the same.

In a related development, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced the unconditional release of 585 prisoners and reduced jail sentences for 3,319 others under a blanket presidential pardon as part of the Union Day celebrations.

The ministry’s permanent secretary, Major General (rtd) Projest Rwegasira, said in a statement that the beneficiaries are inmates who have served at least a quarter of their jail terms in various correctional facilities across the country.

“Prisoners suffering from AIDS, tuberculosis and cancer that has reached a terminal stage are among the beneficiaries,” the PS said, explaining that the medical conditions of those pardoned had been confirmed by doctors led by either a regional or district medical officer.

He added that other groups of beneficiaries - also subjected to confirmation by doctors - are inmates aged 70 and above, as well as those with physical and mental disabilities.

Female inmates who were jailed with their children in tow are also among those set free yesterday. However, prisoners convicted of attempted murder and those serving life sentences were excluded from the pardon, the ministry statement clarified.

Also left out were prisoners convicted of drug-related offences, engaging in corruption, robbery with violence, sexually-related violence, violence against children, and impregnating schoolgirls, among others, the statement said.