What you need to know:
- Vice President Philip Mpango said corruption was a major hindrance to the delivery of justice in Tanzania.
Dodoma. At least seven issues - including corruption - came out strongly as the government’s major concerns towards the delivery of justice in Tanzania’s law courts yesterday.
Gracing this year’s Law Week celebrations, Vice President Philip Mpango said corruption was a major hindrance to the delivery of justice in Tanzania. He said some judges, lawyers and magistrates were not being honest and that they have been demanding bribes in contravention with their oaths and in the process, they twist the justice delivery in favour of the undeserving persons.
Dr Mpango, who promised to play a significant role in the fight against corruption when he was sworn in as Vice President in March 2021, said yesterday that the judiciary’s decision to allow some legal proceedings to take place in courts on Sundays is one of the other factors affecting the delivery of justice in Tanzania.
The list also includes the disappearance, loss, or missing of foreign currency that was seized as evidence or an exhibit in court; the high costs of conducting a legal proceeding; judgements being presented or delivered in English; detaining people for an extended period of time without trial; and, in some cases, the distance between courts and the locations where people live. As a stark illustration of how justice is occasionally withheld by those who are supposed to deliver it, Dr Mpango recalled a situation in which livestock that had been impounded in conservation zones was auctioned.
He said that under such conditions, it wasn’t unusual to have a court sanction the release of such livestock in exchange for merely paying nominal fines. In certain areas, such cases were concluded within just two days where in some circumstances, court proceedings were held on Sundays when all other government offices were closed for weekends.
“For example, in Mbeya, we have received complaints that some individuals receive court injunction to stop auctions of their seized livestock and sometimes, you get completely shocked that the court sits on a Sunday, which is not a working day,” he said.
Regarding the disappearance/loss/missing of foreign currency, he said there were complaints that money is seized at borders, but in the end, it is lost in the hands of the courts.
“It is necessary to address the issue of travel time to the court. It’s also important to work on traditions and practises that are against the law, particularly those that relate to inheritance and land ownership for women and children,” he said.
However, he pointed out that some of the issues he raised may be fully avoided by putting an emphasis on education and the use of digital platforms that can offer solutions.
Ealier, the Chief Justice of Tanzania, Prof Ibrahim Juma, said some citizens have zero knowledge on how to fight for their rights while others believe everybody that goes to the court must win. Prof Juma claimed that even if Tanzania was run according to the rule of law, resolving all legal issues for Tanzanians remained a difficult undertaking.
“Justice cannot be attained without institutions like courts, prisons, and other institutions, therefore during this Law Week’s commemorations, which begin today (yesterday) and go through January 29, we will concentrate on spreading awareness about legal aid and how to get justice,” said Prof Juma.
According to the Chief Justice, the climax of the week will be February 1, 2023, where President Samia Suluhu Hassan is expected to be the guest of honour in Dodoma.