Virus battle: Focus should be on saving lives, says Mbowe

Monday May 18 2020
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Dar es Salaam. Tanzanian political opposition leader Freeman Mbowe has stressed the need to focus on saving human lives first among the government and businesses as Tanzania battles the Covid-19 pandemic which was first identified in the country some two months ago.

The Chadema chairman - who addressed pandemic issues in his speech broadcast through online TV yesterday - said businesses should not think of profits during the pandemic but focus on survival.

“There is no quick fix in addressing Covid-19,” said Mr Mbowe who warned Tanzanians and businesses to get ready for anything.

“Transport, tourism and other businesses may take up to two years to recover from the impact of Covid-19,” he stressed, urging focus on saving lives for now.

Mr Mbowe said Tanzania should go along with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in dealing with Covid-19 - and called for improved relationship with the organization.

Mr Mbowe also stressed the need for the government to provide information on Covid-19 cases and related data to help stakeholders analyze the situation, thereby eliminating rumours created to fill the vacuum.


“We are not blaming the government for Covid-19 because it did not bring it into the country. We actually want to cooperate with the government,” said Mr Mbowe.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa last updated the figures on April 29 and the results were halted after President John Magufuli doubted the Covid testing kits.

Dr Magufuli’s doubts originated from the fact that some birds, fruits and animals tested positive.

The minister for Health, Community Development, Gender and Children, Ummy Mwalimu, said last week that the government would resume providing regular updates when it finishes investigations launched in the national laboratory after Dr Magufuli questioned test results.

Mr Mbowe asked the team formed to investigate the laboratory to release its findings to the public - and continue with testing.

“If the laboratory had issues, they should fix them, or establish another centre and continue testing so that the patients get healthcare services,” he said. He also advised passing a law to guide the war on Covid-19 and avoid contradictions in official directives.

He stressed that the opposition comments and suggestions are intended to complement government efforts and not otherwise.

In other words, they just air their views as responsible Tanzanian citizens who believe they could give inputs in the fight against Covid-19.

“What we are doing is just our obligation and duty as Tanzanians. We are not competing with anyone as far as coronavirus pandemic is concerned,” he stressed.

On May 1, 2020, Chadema asked its lawmakers in Parliament to stop attending Assembly sessions and isolate themselves for 14 days after three MPs died of unknown causes in a span of 11 days.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Job Ndugai, said the absent MPs should refund the monies paid to them in advance as sitting allowances for the MPs.

However, Mr Mbowe expressed disappointment yesterday, claiming that the Speaker and other MPs , as well the President Magufuli governmen, received incorrect information and went on to mistreat the opposition lawmakers.