THE ASSOCIATION OF MUSLIM ORGANISATIONS IN TANZANIA
A STATEMENT MADE ON EID EL FITR 1439H/2018
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Before all else, we give thanks to God and wish mercy and peace upon his Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). This statement is marks the end of the Holy month of Ramadhan. We ask God to accept our fast. About the month of Ramadhan, God tells us: “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous”. (2:183). It was in this month that the Qur’an was sent down as a guide to mankind, and within it clear signs for guidance and judgment between right and wrong.It is the aim of this document, in addition to other things, to emphasize the importance of discrimination between right and wrong, as it is emphasized in the Holy Qur’an.
Blessed Muslims, yesterday, the first day of Eid, and today, the second, we celebrate this important holiday. We, the leaders of the Muslims in this country, have a responsibility to use our position to provide recommendations to you, and to the entire Muslim community, about what is right (things that are just), and to urge you to avoid what is harmful (things that are wrong). Among these are Freedom, Justice, Fraternity, and Peace. These things are part of our religion and they are fundamental to the building of our nation, as described and stipulated in the Introduction to our country’s 1977 Constitution.
We, the leaders of the Association of Muslim Organisations, see our nation faltering in these matters. And so it has become commonplace in Tanzania to witness people killed, their bodies dumped just anywhere, people kidnapped, and the arrest of innocent civilians, some of whom have vanished.
We observe that all people accused of terrorism are Islamic scholars and teachers, or their followers. Worse, the cases against them, nearly all of which are trumped up and immaterial, are not being heard. And so they have even been denied the opportunity to seek justice in court. it has become commonplace for Muslims to be tortured and killed for no reason. The Government does this in the streets, and has gone so far as to kill them inside mosques, the holy houses of God. Koran school children and their teachers have been assaulted by security forces as if they were criminals, they have been arrested and tortured on imaginary charges of terrorism, or for not being registered in the madrasas where they study. It has become usual for the leaders of our nation to issue orders and statements that subvert the foundations of justice, human dignity, the law, and democracy.
Muslims are part of Tanzanian society, we are involved in every aspect and sector of this nation, we are affected by the challenges faced by our nation, and we cannot stand aside,but rather must participate in addressing them. In order to fulfill this responsibility, we pray to God each day to grant us wisdom and insight, that we be given the intellectual clarity required to address these challenges, especially when we issue recommendations to the community and advice to the leaders of our nation, as we do today through this document.
In this context, 29 Ramadhan, equivalent to 14 June, 2018, the country’s Muslim leaders, through the venerable forum of THE ASSOCIATION OF MUSLIM ORGANISATIONSIN TANZANIA,met in Dar es Salaam to discuss and consider a number of religious and social issues. This Eid Document is the result of that important meeting.
B. JUSTICE AND PEACE
Tanzania society is made up of people of different beliefs, faiths, and cultures. Nonetheless, all of us will continue to form one society that brings us together in many matters. Among such vital matters is the question of peace and tranquility. Islam is a religion of peace, and, as such, we, leaders of the Muslim community, are obligated to strengthen peace in our society, to enhance our social harmony. But we are also obligated to object when we see that here is oppression, that there is no justice, and when there are signs that peace is under threat. We, leaders of the Muslim community, recognize that good leadership, leadership that respects the rights and dignity of the people, is the soundest foundation on which the people can base their lives. But, unfortunately, we are now witnessing events that contravene the principles on which our nation was created. Some of these events are as follows:
1. The right to life.
In recent days, a number of terrible events that have burdened our country suggest that the right to life and the right to live are beginning to disappear. These awful incidents, these un-Tanzanian incidents, involve the abduction and torture of citizens, the recovery of murdered corpses, wrapped in sacks, along various riverbanks, in lakes, and at the seashore; the disappearance of a number of people, in conditions that suggest the involvement of our own security forces; armed attacks against Muslim leaders and political leaders; and threats against all who are seen to have alternate views about how our country should be lead; arrests on false charges, especially charges of terrorism and false citizenship against people who oppose the government; and, furthermore, the misuse of our security forces, including the use of disproportionate force, against the people.
We, the leaders of the Association of Muslim Organisationsin Tanzania, recommend that the Government take serious steps to bring back the people’s confidence in its ability to safeguard their right to life and their right to live. Given that security forces themselves, who are supposed to protect the people and investigate crimes, are among those under scrutiny for jeopardizing the right to life, and the right to live in peace, the time is right for a JUSTICE COMMISSION to investigate all matters related to abductions, disappearances, and murders, in order that the truth be known, and for the people concerned with these matters to be brought to justice. We also recommend that the International Community, members of Parliament, and Civil Society Organizations who defend human rights to put pressure on the government to form this Justice Commission, whose work will be crucial for the nation.
We also call upon all Muslims, and every Tanzanian, to make a commitment, to himself or herself, to their generation, to continue to protect this right to life and to live in peace, his or her own rights and that of the whole society, without regard to religious beliefs or political orientation.
2. The right to worship.
A segment of society in our country, in particular we, members of the Muslim community, have more acutely experiencedthe denial of the right to worship, especially in regard to Muslims and Muslim leaders who have been abducted, killed, ‘disappeared,’ arrested, charged, and subjected to degrading treatment while in the custody of our country’s security organs. These abuses are committed against the Muslim community because it is suspected of terrorist activity. Numerous incidents evidence the persecution we face, the most notable being that of 21 July 2017, when 10 Muslims were attacked at gunpoint, tortured, wounded, or killed while praying in Ali Mchumo Mosque in Kilwa, Lindi Province, and then carried off and ‘disappeared’.
We, the leaders the Association of Muslim Organisationsin Tanzania, call on the Government to desist from using spurious terrorism charges to deny a segment of its citizens the right to worship. If this state of affairs continues, it will generate religious enmity in the country, and sow hatred in a society whose right to worship is being denied by the Government. It is also essential that the Government mount a thorough investigation into the incidents at Ali Mchumo Mosque, for up til now, the whereabouts of our fellow Muslims are unknown. This matter is gravely concerning, and it is among those that may generate hostility among Muslims toward their Government. In addition, the Government should rewrite the laws on Terrorism, or revise them significantly, excising all clauses that lead to citizens being denied their rights, especially the right to worship. When the Terrorism law was under discussion in Parliament in 2002, Lindi MP Mohamed Abdulaziz said the following: “If this law is passed, human life with have no value.” These words have come to pass, and, unfortunately, the segment of society that is most negatively affected by this law is the Muslim community. Finally, we recommend that the Courts, the Senior Judge, the Attorney General, Minister of Legal Affairs, and the Director of Public Prosecutions ensure that every terrorism case be speedily brought to court, and the accused receive their rights, for, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
3. FREEDOM OF THE PRESS AND THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Our nation is headed toward a situation in which the right to the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the freedom to be informed are nonexistent. Regulations of various kinds that are used to oversee the information sector in this country are more often being used to totally abolish the people’s rights to information and to express their views.
We, leaders of the Association of Muslim Organisationsin Tanzania, together with the faithful whom we direct, are a segment of the Tanzanian population whose rights to information and to free expression affected by this state of affairs.
We, the leaders of the Muslim Associations and Institutes of Tanzania, advise the Government to have the forbearance and patience to hear even those opinions which it does not like. People have the right and the freedom to air their views about the way the Government operates; these views can be used by the Government to improve its delivery of services to the nation. And, further, the people have the right to read, watch, and listen to opposition views through the various media platforms in the country. Restricting people’s right to free expression and to be informed is not a productive way of leading our nation.
4. THE FREEDOM OF THE PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COURTS
We have witnessed increasing and dramatic restrictions placed on the freedom of the Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania, firstly through the abolition of the people’s long-established right to view live proceedings of their representatives at work, and then through various steps taken by the Parliament and the Government to decrease the status and capacity of the Parliament in the country itself.
In some measure, the freedom of the Court has also been severely restricted. Its ability to carry out its business and to make its own budgetary determinations, have been impinged on by the Government, as the Courts have been ordered to end, hasten, issue immediate rulings on tax claims that involve the government.
The leaders of the Association of Muslim Associations in Tanzania advise the Government to adhere to the Constitution and the Laws of the land, and leave the Parliament and the Court to freely carry out their own business according to the Law and the Constitution. It is not befitting of the Government to issue threats and directives to these institutions which are vital to our country. And it is also vital that the funds approved by Parliament for the purpose of Court business be disbursed as planned, in a timely fashion, and without condition. Finally, we advise that the people’s right to watch live proceedings of their representatives at work in Parliament, be reinstated as it used to be.
5. THE FREEDOM TO CHOOSE
We have witnessed the absence of free and fair environments in which people are free to choose and to be chosen in numerous elections in our country. This situation has arisen because the National Electoral Commission, NEC, is not free, and due to its overseeing of elections on principles that are not free and fair.
The evidence lies in various recent elections which NEC was obviously incapable of administering, resulting in several parties boycotting of these elections, as well as in unrest. The major reason for all of that is that NEC relies on ruling party members, who are Town Council Chairs, to be in charge of these elections, and NEC is unable to remove them even when claims of prejudice are made against them. These things have done away with the idea of a Free, Transparent and Fair Election, and, instead, our elections are marred by brutality, subterfuge, threats and assaults, unrest, extreme use of force by security organs, people being injured, and even death.
The leaders of the Association of Muslim Organisationsin Tanzania advise the Government, NEC, and Opposition Parties, together with all stakeholders, to gather together to discuss the current obstacles in our electoral climate, in order to devise the best method of having a free, just, and fair election. It is also important that changes be made to our Election Laws, in order to increase freedom, transparent, and efficiency within NEC. These legal reforms must ensure that NEC’s composition, the availability of Directors and their Executing Officers, together with its ability to have permanent representatives at the Council levels, are resolved in such a way as to create a New Independent Electoral Commission.
6. OBEYING THE CONSTITUTION AND THE LAW
We have also witnessed the absence of urgency in upholding the laws and the nation’s constitution, particularly on the part of the government and its leaders. Key examples are the Government’s disrespect for Local Government Associations, intervening in their affairs, and decreasing their ability to fund themselves, with the Government using social funds unlawfully and in contravention of budgetary procedures. The Government’s fails to follow the laws and procedures that it has itself agreed to – including stipulations that do not allow religion, culture, or ethnicity to influence the selection of government leaders – and also when its security forces make arrests and take people into custody.
The leaders of the Association of Muslim Organisationsin Tanzania advise the Government to model adherence to the law and constitution of our country, so that the people, too, will follow this example. It would also be beneficial for the Government to let Local Government Associations do their work according to the law, let the Government cease interfering in their business in contravention of the law, and creating discord. And let it stop taking away their financial capacity, and stop hampering their efforts to bring progress.
7. POLITICAL FREEDOM
We have witnessed the total absence of Freedom to participate in multi-party politics in this country, since it was readopted in 1992. In violation of our laws, the Government has forbidden public meetings and demonstrations by parties belonging to the Opposition in this country, while Government leaders, who are also leaders in the ruling party, are free to hold such meetings. Moreover, we have witnessed national leaders of opposition parties being prevented from undertaking ordinary tours of the country to visit their followers, and even from doing so in areas of the country where they have been granted the authority to rule – unlike leaders of the Ruling Party, who are free to do all that, without hindrance. Ever worse, for the first time ever in this country, we have seen an Opposition MP being shot at while on Parliament property, while, to this day, no investigation into the matter has been carried out, and no one has been taken into custody in relation to this crime.
Leaders of the Association of Muslim Organisationsin Tanzania advise the Government, first, to lift the ban on public meetings by Opposition Parties. The ban is against the Law and the Constitution of this country. Second, the Government, and Political Parties (ruling and opposition), should form a NATIONAL ADVISORY CONFERENCE, for which we, the religious leaders, will provide mediation, in order to discuss the political obstacles in this country, and for the Government, the Ruling Party, and Opposition Parties, to come to a resolution as to how to promote and implement our democratic political freedoms, which were secured in 1992.
8. JUDICIAL RIGHTS
We have witnessed the cases of numerous Muslim leaders, in different parts of the country, being delayed, or their right to a fair hearing and sentencing being denied entirely. Apt examples include the religious leaders of Uamsho, the religious leadersin Arusha, together with hundreds of other faithful who are overflowing in the prisons of Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Mwanza, and other prisons in the land while their cases have not been heard for years. It is even worse that the courts refuse to give fair hearing to their complaints of being subjected to degrading treatment and torture while in state custody.
Leaders of the Association of Muslim Organisationsin Tanzania advise the Government and the Director of Public Prosecutions, together with the Courts, to fulfil their obligation to ensure the people’s rights. If this persecution of Muslim leaders in this country is permitted to go on, the entire Muslim community will lose confidence in our court system, a development that does not bode well for the flourishing of justice in this country.
C. SOCIETY AND THE ECONOMY
We have witnessed the efforts, desire, and good will of the Government in collecting taxes in the country, in the administration of social monies, and in fighting corruption together with ensuring that profits from the use of the country’s natural resources will benefit the nation as a whole. Further, we congratulate the Government for its effort to collect income and taxes so that the government can provide social services in the country. However, and without denigrating those efforts, we want to say the following:
There are complaints from taxpayers in the country, especially in the private sector, about the way that this tax collection is being carried out. The most important concern the hostile tax environment, the calculation of taxes much higher than taxpayers’ business capacity to pay, the aggression of tax collectors and their lack of restraint when dealing with businesspeople.
And tax collection authorities also have various complaints about untrustworthy businesspeople who avoid paying taxes, and who set back the Government’s efforts to improve social service delivery, and to bring progress through this tax income.
Leaders of the Association of Muslim Organisationsin Tanzania believe that private businesspeople as a whole are not enemies of the Government. The economic activities which they carry out deserve to be improved, in order to diversify and increase employment, as well as increase the tax income the Government can claim. The bad relationship between tax collection authorities and businesspeople today is killing their businesses, and therefore also decreasing the Government’s income. We believe that all of this must be discussed, in order to improve the entire taxation system. Leaders of the Association of Muslim Organisationsin Tanzania believe that, together with improving the relationship between taxation authorities and taxpayers, another important matter that should be emphasized is the provision of civic education about the importance of paying taxes.
2. ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES
To date, we also perceive that there is a serious unemployment problem in this country, especially for youth. We acknowledge the Government’s goal of making Tanzania country with a middle class, supported by industry, but the industrial sector we are currently building has yet to be integrated with other sectors of the economy that affect the majority of Tanzanians, which are agriculture, animal husbandry, and fishing.
Leaders of the Association of Muslim Organisationsin Tanzania advise the Government to make targeted efforts to ensure that it provides opportunities for the strengthening of economic activities in the country, through special projects and programs, as well as investments and tax policy. A diversified economy will increase employment for our youth, and improve the economy of their home areas, while also increasing the Government’s tax income.
An emphasis should be placed on supporting various agricultural activities, animal husbandry and fishing, and to ensure the timely and affordable availability of seeds, as well as training in agriculture, animal husbandry, and fishing, and to increase the possibility of storing and processing crops in order to increase their value, and to ensure a reliable market.
3. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY
The Report of the State Controller and Auditor General, CAG, for financial year 2016/2017 shows the there is a problem in the way the Government uses public funds that are generated in various ways, especially by using them for things that are not in the Budget, and also by borrowing more money than is allocated by Parliament. These things overall do not show discipline in the management of public funds, and make the people feel that their Government is misusing their taxes, which in turn makes them less enthusiastic and ready to pay taxes.
Discipline in the use of public funds is stipulated in the Constitution and a number of our laws. Leaders of the Association of Muslim Organisationsin Tanzania advise the Government to avoid using public funds in a manner that has not been approved by the people’s representatives in Parliament. Additionally, the Government’s failure to provide explanations for its large expenses harms the people’s confidence in the Government, as happened recently after the presentation of the Statement of the Public Inspector. If the Government keeps to the law in its use of public funds, it will prevent the significant systemic corruption that has taken hold in our country several times before.
D. THE NEW CONSTITUTION MUST BE BASED ON NATIONAL AGREEMENT
Muslims in this country, as a part of Tanzanian society, participated fully in the processes attending the crafting of a new Constitution for our country, processes that, for various reasons, have been stalled.
We, the leaders of the Association of Muslim Organisationsin Tanzania that the time for the Government to bring back the process of drafting a New Constitution is now, so that we can lay a new legal and constitutional foundation for our Country.
But, because of what happened during the constitutional review and drafting process, is it amply clear that there is a lack of trust between the two largest groups of people, the side that accepts the Proposed Constitution, and the side that accepts the Draft Constitution produced by the Warioba Commission.
In this context, our recommendation is that a National Constitutional Conference be called. The main aim of this conference should be to lay the groundwork for an accord between these two groups, and the nation as a whole, about the best way to revive the process of making the New Constitution. We believe that if this national constitutional conference is held, it will raise the level of accord, especially regarding still contested questions, or questions about which there is no national agreement and yet which must be included or left in, or taken out, of the new constitution. This conference may also propose changes or additions to the laws that will regulate the process for producing the new constitution.
This conference must have broad and diverse representation of society, including Government leaders, Political Parties, Religious Institutions, Civil Society, Professional Organisations, Cooperatives, and so on. The goal must be to ensure broad representation that represents all of our nation. Finally, we, religious leaders, are prepared to be a bridge to enable this National Constitutional Conference. USE US.
We conclude our Eid-l-Fitr greetings by wishing all Muslims, and all Tanzanians as a whole all the goodness and abundance of this holy day, and we urge them to support Unity, Peace and Collaboration among themselves, while carrying forward what they have learned during Ramadhan about serving justice and avoiding what is bad and wrong. Furthermore, we beseech them not to remain silent in fact of injustice, for stopping bad deeds is what the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) instructs us to do. We, the leaders of the Association of Muslim Organisationsin Tanzania, hope for a peaceful Tanzania without any kind of discrimination, a Tanzania that respects the rights and equality of every human being, and one in which there is progress.
All Success Comes from God.
Wishing you a Blessed Eid.
This statement, by us, the leaders and imams of the Association of Muslim Organisations in Tanzania has been issued jointly by us, under the guidance of our leaders:
Sheikh Shaaban Hijja Mrisho
Association of Muslim Organisationsin Tanzania
Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda
Association of Muslim Organisationsin Tanzania
Association of Muslim Organisationsin Tanzania