DAR ES SALAAM: THE country’s security is intact despite threats in the region and around the world, such as terrorism, illegal immigration and drug abuse, Chief Defence Forces (CDF), General Jacob Mkunda has assured.
According to CDF Mkunda, the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) are working tirelessly to combat these threats and ensure the security of the country’s borders.
General Mkunda made the remarks yesterday in Dar es Salaam while briefing Commander in Chief President Samia Suluhu Hassan on the current security situation during the opening of the Seventh Meeting of Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) and Commanders.
He stated that security and defence agencies have been collaborating to combat emerging terrorism networks and drug abuse for the well-being of citizens and the country as a whole.
Gen Mkunda mentioned that there is an ongoing effort to eliminate terrorism networks that primarily recruit children and youths aged 15 to 25 and send them to rebel groups in Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Somalia.
“Persistent drug abuse, inappropriate usage of social media and increasing illegal immigration are among the security threats in our country. All of these threats are being contained as a result of the concerted efforts of all security organs,” he said.
Regarding strengthening border security, Gen Mkunda stated that TPDF has been carrying out effective security operations in collaboration with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Force at the southern border near Mozambique, which is facing terrorism threats from the neighbouring country.
He also mentioned that security at the western border neighbouring the DRC is improving despite security threats emerging from the eastern part of the country, where there are rebel groups including the March 23 (M23).
Tanzania is part of the SADC Mission in the DRC, which aims to restore peace.
Within the country, TPDF has been undertaking security operations in regions facing terrorism threats, such as Ruvuma and Mtwara.
The CDF noted that the western regions, including Kigoma, are facing challenges with refugees and long-term asylum seekers who attempt to obtain nationality and occupy different government positions, posing a security concern.
In that regard, General Mkunda suggested repatriating all illegal immigrants who enter the country as refugees but lack the necessary requirements for humanitarian status.
Highlighting the root of the challenge, he mentioned that the country began receiving refugees from Burundi in 1972, Rwanda in 1994 and the DRC in 1996.
The first group of Burundian refugees, totaling 27,000, was relocated to about 73 villages in the Kigoma Region, and their numbers have since increased as they seek citizenship.
Gen Mkunda stated that from January 1 to December 31 of last year, the country received approximately 138,149 asylum seekers from the DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi. However, they were denied refugee status because it was discovered that their motives were primarily economic.
Highlighting the achievements of the army, he mentioned that TPDF has maintained defence diplomacy by having representation at the United Nations (UN), African Union, SADC, East Africa Community (EAC), and in 26 other countries around the world.
He stated that the National Service, JKT, has also increased recruitment from admitting 38,000 Form Six graduates (equivalent to 36 per cent) in 2022 to 52,116 (equivalent to 54 per cent) in 2023, with an average of 107,000 students graduating each year.
The meeting brought together army commanders to discuss various issues related to defence and security activities in the country.