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Tanzania threatens to de-register churches that criticise Magufuli

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Tanzania has threatened to revoke the registration of religious organisations that “mix religion and politics” after a cleric criticized President John Magufuli’s leadership in a Christmas sermon.

Opposition leaders in Tanzania say tolerance for dissent has been rapidly disappearing since Magufuli took office in late 2015 with pledges to reform East Africa’s third-biggest economy and crack down on large-scale corruption.

“Recently, some leaders of (religious) societies have been using their sermons to analyse political issues, which is contrary to the law,” the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Projest Rwegasira, said late on Thursday.

Tanzania’s constitution protects freedom of worship, but religious organisations must register at the country’s Home Affairs Ministry to get a licence to operate legally.

“Any violation of the law could lead to cancellation of the registration of the concerned religious society,” he said in a statement.

The warning was issued just days after the head of a Pentecostal church in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam criticised Magufuli’s leadership, saying his government was closing democratic space.

Zachary Kakobe, self-proclaimed bishop and founder of the Full Gospel Bible Fellowship Church, accused the Tanzanian government of “quietly turning the country into a one-state rule by systematically banning political activity.”

Other clerics including the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, Dr. Fredrick Shoo said ‘Tanzanians were living in fear of the consequences of saying the wrong things’.

‘‘There is a group of people whose duty is to instill fear in people who speak the truth. This is wrong. Jesus was born to enable us live in truth and not in fear,’‘ Dr Shoo said.

The Bishop of the Morogoro Catholic Diocese, Telesphore Mkude also bemoaned the fear and disregard of human rights prevalent in Tanzania.

‘‘If high profile individuals, including journalists, disappear without a trace, imagine what can happen to ordinary people,’‘ he pondered.

The Home Affairs Ministry responded by issuing a public notice to religious organisations after the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party accused Kakobe of mixing religion and politics.

Tanzanian police banned political protests and rallies indefinitely in June last year, saying political activity would only be allowed during elections.

Magufuli, nicknamed “the Bulldozer” for pushing through his policies, has won some praise from Western donors for an anti-corruption campaign and cuts to wasteful public spending.

But opponents accuse him of increasingly undermining democracy by curbing dissent and stifling free speech.

Magufuli has publicly denied the allegations, saying he is no dictator. But several newspapers have been shut and more than a dozen suspects prosecuted for allegedly insulting the president via WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

Tanzania, one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most stable democracies, has held five relatively peaceful multi-party elections since 1995, all won by the CCM.

Crime

Nigeria Football Federation boss Amaju Pinnick under fresh corruption probe

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Several properties belonging to top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), including its president Amaju Pinnick, have been seized in a fresh corruption probe.

The latest investigation and seizures are being carried out by the country’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC).

The ICPC has published a newspaper advertisement about the properties seized – half of which belong to Pinnick.

According to the statement published in the Nigerian papers one of Pinnick’s properties is in London.

It comes amidst wide-ranging claims over how money meant for football development allegedly disappeared.

“We can’t go into further details beyond the fact that many officials of the NFF are under investigation,” ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa said.

“It’s basically because what they have is in excess of what they have earned.”

The ICPC has also taken control of properties belonging to the NFF second vice-president Shehu Dikko and the general secretary Muhamed Sanusi among others.

Source: BBC

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24 Hours Across Africa

Rwanda ban Burundi,s music star ahead of annual festival

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Burundian musician Jean Pierre Nimbona, popularly known as Kidum, has told the BBC he is confused by Rwanda’s decision to ban him from playing at the upcoming Kigali Jazz Fusion festival.

Kidum is one of Burundi’s biggest music stars and has performed in Rwanda for the past 16 years.

But a police official phoned the musician’s manager to warn that he would only be allowed to make private visits to Rwanda.

“[My manager was told] Kidum is not supposed to perform, tell him to leave. If he comes for private visits fine, but no performances,” the musician told BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme.

The mayor of Rwanda’s capital said that in this instance permission had not been sought from the authorities for him to perform at the festival in Kigali.

Kidum was a leading peace activist during Burundi’s civil war between 1993 and 2003 and used his songs to call for reconciliation.

The 44-year-old musician said he had never had problems with Rwandan authorities until recently when three of his shows were cancelled at the last minute – including one in December 2018.

That month Burundi had banned Meddy, a musician who is half-Burundian, half-Rwandan, from performing in the main city of Bujumbura.

Kidum said he was unsure if the diplomatic tensions between Burundi and Rwanda had influenced his ban.

“I don’t know, I don’t have any evidence about that. And if there was politics, I’m not a player in politics, I’m just a freelance musician based in Nairobi,” he said.

He said he would not challenge the ban: “There’s nothing I can do, I just wait until maybe the decision is changed some day.

“It’s similar to a family house and you are denied entry… so you just have to wait maybe until the head of the family decides otherwise.”

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