Why Police reforms in Tanzania were innevitable

President Samia Suluhu Hassan speaks during the swearing in of the new IGP Camillius Wambura at State House Chamwino, Dodoma

What you need to know:

  • The Head of State had on a number of occasions since coming into office early last year publicly expressed her disapproval of the Police Force’s general conduct.

Dar es Salaam. The reform of the Police Force has begun in earnest.

That is the message delivered by President Samia Suluhu Hassan when she swore in Mr Camillus Wambura as the new Inspector General of Police (IGP) at Chamwino State House in Dodoma yesterday.

The Head of State had on a number of occasions since coming into office early last year publicly expressed her disapproval of the Police Force’s general conduct.

Opening the 2021 Senior Police Officers Conference 2021 in Dar es Salaam last August, President Hassan directed the Police Force to speed up criminal investigations to ensure timely delivery of justice.

She also said police should free suspects if they were unable to complete investigations, adding that there was a need for the Police Force to carry out investigations efficiently and effectively in line with legal, policy and operational requirements.

And when she officiated at a passing out ceremony at the Kurasini Police Academy in Dar es Salaam last December, President Hassan listed shortcomings that tainted the Police Force’s image, and directed the then IGP, Mr Simon Sirro, to work on them as a matter of urgency.

She said offensive language, corruption and the use of excessive force were common among police officers when carrying out their duties.

It was against this background that the President could not hide her frustration when it was reported that an innocent civilian had died while in police custody in Mtwara in February, this year.

“I have heard that police have killed somebody, and are investigating themselves. I now direct the Prime Minister to conduct a separate investigation and both reports should be brought forth for comparison,” she said.

President Hassan added that the Police Force should assess itself in light of the criminal conduct of some of its members, and directed the Home Affairs minister to take charge and reverse the trend.

It thus came as no surprise when she appointed and swore in Mr Wambura as the new police chief on the same day yesterday.

President Hassan noted that the appointment heralded the beginning of major changes that were aimed at modernising the Police Force and making it people-centred.

The President said human rights and the nation’s wider interests must be given priority for good governance to thrive.

That was why she has decided to oversee reform of social justice institutions, including the Police Force, National Prosecution Office, Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), Prisons, as well as the Drugs Control and Enforcement Authority (DCEA).

“We want to review all these, and strengthen them to ensure that the structures of these institutions are reinforced. We will see if what is currently in place promotes efficiency and is in line with what is acceptable...we must look at this,” the Head of State said.

The President also said the system of employment, training, ethics and discipline would be looked into, noting that this was an important area that must be given attention within the aforementioned institutions.

“...in today’s world, people’s rights and the country’s interests must be prioritised, so we are going to look at all those we trusted in those areas,” she said.

Work performance systems are also one of the priorities of President Hassan in the new drive aimed at checking whether the work was done in accordance with the law or whether there was familiarity between the employees of the relevant institutions, thus prompting conflict of interests in taking action.

“But it’s not just promotion, training is another critical aspect. Because I know that in order for one to be promoted, he must go to training, is the training being done properly? Is lack of training another reason for whet we see happening on our roads?” she queried.

The President explained that there have been complaints in relations between the Police Force institutions and citizens as well as other institutions.

“We have said that we are opening the country and we have opened it, many foreigners are entering. The complaints we get from visitors about the maltreatment they receive are many, so we are going to check these things,” she explained, adding that they will check how the workers were found within the security forces.

“Even if it happened in the past, going forward now we can build security forces with the reputation and status to manage this country,” she noted.

The President also said another priority issue was to look at the use of new scientific discoveries like artificial intelligence as central for the future of the Police Force as well as the use of modern tools like ICT.

“Let’s build our good bases within our forces, look at the use of ICT, communication infrastructure to see how we can strengthen these areas,” she exuded.

In this regard, to ensure that these goals were practical, President Hassan revealed to have formed a committee of 12 people and a secretariat of five people led by retired Judge Mohamed Chande Othman as chairperson with retired Ambassador Ombeni Sefue as his deputy.

“I have created this committee to advise me on the best way to bring about changes in the performance of our criminal justice agencies...they will start with the police and bring a report, we will make adjustments and go to other forces like prisons until everything becomes as we desire,” she said.

Meanwhile, prior to his appointment as IGP, Wambura was Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and he now replaces Mr Sirro, who has been appointed Tanzania’s High Commissioner to Zimbabwe.

Mr Sirro, is also a former Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander, was appointed to the top police job on May 29, 2017, replacing Mr Ernest Mangu.

In the latest appointments, the Commander in Chief also appointed Ramadhan Hamisi Kingai as the new Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

In a statement by the directorate of Presidential Communication which was issued in the early hours yesterday, the appointment of Mr Wambura makes him the 11th Inspector General of Police since the formation of the United Republic of Tanzania in 1964.

Those who have held this office before include Elangwa Shaidi (1964 -1970), Hamza Azizi (1970-1973), Samuel Pundugu (August 7, 1973 – August 1975), Philemon Mgaya (August 8, 1975 – November 1980) and Solomon Liani (November 2, 1980 – November 30, 1984).

Others are Harun Mahundi (December 1, 1984 – May 3, 1996), Omari Mahita (May 4, 1996 – March 2, 2006), Saidi Mwema (March 3, 2006 – December 30, 2013), Ernest Mangu (January 1, 2014 – May 29, 2017) and Simon Sirro (May 29, 2017 – July 19, 2022).