Housekeeping

Will Hassan’s latest cleaning clean up the police?

Camillus Wambura, who takes office as the new police chief, has a heavy task ahead of him. He will be expected to destroy the negative reputation the police have gained over the years and push through further changes in line with Hassan’s government.

“These changes will make sense if they protect justice and people’s rights, if not [the force] will return to his old ways and “as if nothing had happened” […]says Emmanuel Kaniki, a security analyst based in Arusha.

Makame Mussa, another security analyst, believes that this latest round of housekeeping by Hassan is aimed at removing officers implicated in gross human rights abuses.

“President Samia knows exactly what happened during [the] 2020 poll when the opposition was harassed and abused by police. I think she’s trying to change the image of [the] police from above,” says Makame.

Police force under IGP Sirro

Under Sirro, the Tanzanian police had been accused of various forms of misconduct and violation of people’s rights.

In 2019, a Human Rights Watch report titled “As long as I’m calm, I’m safe’ said, “The government has used the Cybercrime Act to harass politicians, journalists and opposition activists while police arbitrarily arrested and in some cases beat journalists while covering events. Police also arrested two journalists engaged in investigative reporting on government policy. Authorities have failed to adequately investigate the kidnapping of two other journalists, one of whom remains missing at the time of writing.

This missing journalist was Azory Gwanda who investigated the mysterious murders of people living in the coastal regions.

The police force is also allegedly responsible for undermining political activities by preventing opposition parties from holding internal meetings and rallies, contrary to the provisions of the Political Parties Act 1992.

According to Human Rights Watch, police have also been implicated in the killing of innocent people in various parts of the country, including the death of the young mining businessman Moussa Hamisi on October 20, 2021. At the beginning of this year, the BBC reported that seven police officers charged with the murder have not yet pleaded and remain in custody.

The police were also accused of having accuse government critics of non-bailable offensessuch as money laundering, tax evasion and economic sabotage.

  • For instance, Erick Kabendera – a prominent Tanzanian journalist – was charged in 2019 with tax evasion and organizing crimes, charges which appear to be politically motivated and which arose after he criticized the policies of the late President Magufuli.
  • Tito Magoti, a lawyer working at the Legal and Human Rights Center was arrested and charged in 2019 with money laundering offences. He spent more than a year in Segerea prison and was later released after negotiation with the chief prosecutor. The center published several reports between 2016 and 2020 indicating that police forces were responsible for human rights violations.

Kingai’s new appointment

In the series of changes, Ramadhan Kingai was also appointed as the new director of criminal investigations.

His appointment, however, drew backlash over his perceived responsibility for the unlawful arrests of journalist Freeman Mbowe and his security team, and the resulting terrorism charges. Mbowe and his team spent seven months in prison before the state dropped the charges earlier this year.

“We need strong institutions and these institutions must be led by people of integrity and moral authority. The police have again been handed over to suspects,” says Tito Magoti, a lawyer and human rights activist. The Africa Report.

How come a person like Ramadhan Kingai is entrusted to [a] serious department, although it is the source of the false accusations [the] opposition encountered?

John Heche, a former MP for Tarime and a central committee member of the main opposition CHADEMA party, wonders whether the new police leadership can help the nation heal the wounds inflicted by Magufuli-era officers.

“How is it that a person like Ramadhan Kingai is entrusted to [a] serious department, although it is the source of the false accusations [the] in the face of opposition? said Heche.

However, Victor Kweka, a lawyer and spokesperson for the opposition ACT Wazalendo, says he welcomes the new appointment, but that it should come with changes to the justice system.

“All stakeholders need to be involved in these changes, especially the bail system. All offenses should be on bail and there should be no objections from the police. In short, an overhaul of the entire justice system must involve all stakeholders,” he says.

Corruption

Several reports published in 2016, 2017 and 2018 by Twaweza – an NGO that works to empower citizens to exercise their agency to encourage more open and accountable government – found the police department to be among the top government entities in of corruption.

At the swearing-in ceremony for the new police chief in Dodoma on July 21, President Hassan reaffirmed the need for professionalism.

“I want change in the police force, I want efficiency in the police force and people need to feel safe when they are in the hands of the police. We need a professional police force in terms of training and education,” she said.