Jailed Tanzanian Opposition Leader Bursts Into Juliani Song After Court Ruling

  • Tanzanian opposition leader and Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) chairman, Freeman Mbowe, could not hide his joy after he was unconditionally released by a court sitting in Dar es Salaam.

    Mbowe and three co-accused, Halfani Hassan, Adam Kasekwa and Mohamed Ling’wenya burst into song and dance, singing Juliani’s famous song, Utawala, after the Judge freed them. The four were released after the prosecutor dropped terrorism charges levelled against them by the state.

    The Tanzanian opposition leader, Halfani Hassan, Adam Kasekwa and Mohamed Ling’wenya were put on their defence in the terrorism charges case after the High Court (Division of Corruption and Economic Offenses) found them with a case to answer.

    Tanzanian opposition leader and Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe left prison in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on March 14, 2020.

    Tanzanian opposition leader and Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe left prison in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on March 14, 2020.

    Courtesy AFP

    On Friday, March 4, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) filed a motion of no intent to proceed with the case at the High Court Division of Corruption and Economic Sabotage Offences, dropping the charges Mbowe and his co-accused were facing.

    “The court is informed by the Director of Public Prosecutions on behalf of the Republic that he will not further prosecute Freeman Mbowe and three others for the offences of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, providing funds to commit terrorist acts, participating in a terrorist meeting and possession of the property for the commission of terrorist acts,” the court documents read in part.

    After the court freed Mbowe, his supporters cheered as his lawyers hugged each other. The group started singing Juliani’s song which condemns oppression by governments, a frequent occurrence in African countries.

    Mbowe was apprehended and taken to prison in July 2021 while preparing to attend a conference on proposed constitutional reforms in Mwanza District, the home region of the late President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli.

    He was charged in court on July 26, 2021, amid protests from his party and pressure from international bodies seeking to have the Tanzanian government drop the charges. His supporters believed that the arrest was politically instigated.

    Mbowe was also facing a separate charge of financing acts of terrorism in the Economic Sabotage Case Number 16 of 2021 at the High Court’s Corruption and Economic Crimes Division.

    After Mbowe’s arrest, President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s administration came under sharp criticism with human rights entities stating that her rule was about to be as oppressive as that of her predecessor, John Magufuli.

    Dissenting voices in Tanzania hoped that President Hassan would usher in a new era of democracy. Opposition leaders accused the government of interfering in the Mbowe case.

    terrorism terrorist arrest

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