Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Let the new CJ restore trust IN THE judiciary


Prof Ibrahim Juma is the new Chief Justice. He was confirmed in the new role on Sunday after having served in an acting capacity for nine months.

He becomes the eighth chief justice and the sixth indigenous chief justice since independence in 1961. At the swearing in ceremony yesterday, Prof Juma spoke of the need for the Judiciary to re-affirm its own catchphrase of “timely and accessible justice for all”.

We congratulate Prof Juma on his appointment and wish him well in his new position. We would, however, like to remind him – as he himself rightly said yesterday – that he has been given a huge responsibility, considering the challenges that the Judiciary faces.

The biggest challenge is diminished trust in the Judiciary. It is no longer a secret that many Tanzanians have lost faith in the courts of law.

Not only did it take too long for justice to be dispensed, sometimes for unknown reasons, the judicial system had also allowed itself to be held captive by the rich and powerful. The poor had to contend with “eating crumbs” that fell down “the table of justice”. This is an issue Prof Juma needs to tackle head-on as a matter or urgency.

Of late there has also risen the perception that the Executive does not respect its limits and is interfering with the Judiciary. Prof Juma addressed this issue yesterday as he tried to show why that perception is wrong. Nevertheless, the perception exists and it could be fuelled by the actions or words of some of those who are in positions of power.

Accessibility of justice is another problem. Again, Prof Juma spoke about this yesterday. Many Tanzanians, especially in rural areas, do not have easy access to courts. It is therefore crucial that the CJ works hard to ensure that justice is not only served by the Judiciary, but it is seen to be served. He also needs to ensure that the Judiciary is seen to be independent from interference by either the Executive or Parliament.

Rice TRAINING welcome

That rice is an important food crop in East Africa is beyond debate. However, drought and increased human activities have affected its production, thus resulting in low crop yield in some parts of the region.

The good news is that the Kilimanjaro Agricultural Training Centre (KATC) has offered to train agricultural officers to improve rice production, banking on modern irrigation farming technologies applied in Japan and South East Asia. This will not only improve crop yield and boost farmers’ livelihood, but also create jobs.

Supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the project has already started in Burundi, where demand for rice is high. Although the government and other stakeholders recommend irrigation farming in dry areas, lack of requisite skills and equipment are perennial problems in rice production.

We hope the KATC programme will have a positive impact on rice production in East Africa in terms of helping farmers to acquaint themselves with modern farming skills and thus boost food security. Nevertheless, we think more public awareness on irrigation farming is still needed among East Africans.

Governments in the region should also help farmers to access affordable irrigation.