THE late President Dr John Magufuli demonstrated after gaining power that his administration would adhere to the rule of law, and consolidate the administration of justice.
He made bold decisions to ensure the Judiciary of Tanzania discharges its constitutional mandates of delivering justice to the people effectively. In this feature, Staff Writer FAUSTINE KAPAMA revisits some of the decisions.
ACCORDING to Article 107A of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, it is the Judiciary, as the only institution, among three pillars of the state which is charged with the duty of dispensing justice in the country.
Few months after taking the country’s highest office on November 5, 2015, former President Dr John Magufuli demonstrated that his government would not only support the Judiciary to ensure timely delivery of justice, but also adhere to the rule of law and enhance justice administration.
Dr Magufuli was sworn in as President of the United Republic of Tanzania on November 5, 2015, following the general elections held on October 25, 2015, scooping 8,882,935 votes, which is equivalent to 58.46 per cent of total votes. He was declared winner under the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).
On his first time to officiate the Law Day in February 2016, the Head of State directed the Treasury to provide over 12bn/- that had not been issued by the government as part of development budget and promised more offer of 250bn/- as part of 1tri/- worth of tax evasion related cases that were pending.
Since he assumed the presidency duties, ex-President Magufuli has appointed 17 new judges of the Court of Appeal and other 52 judges of the High Court. Within the same period, 859 judicial officers, including 396 magistrates from the Primary Court to the Resident Magistrate’s Court level have been employed.
On the Law Day celebrations held on February 1, 2021, Dr Magufuli reminded the Judiciary over his approval to recruit 200 new other magistrates. In a bid to improve and speed up court proceedings, the judiciary introduced mobile courts, which are being used in areas with shortages of court building in different parts of Tanzania.
There are two mobile courts that have been financed by World Bank in order to improve delivery of judicial services. President Magufuli officially inaugurated the Mobile Court services on February 6, 2019, to bring judicial services closer to the people and for timely justice delivery. Such services will also reduce cost of citizens in accessing justice away from the areas in which they live.
Improvements of infrastructure
Dr Magufuli’s continued support and enhancing both recurrent and developments budgets to the Judiciary of Tanzania, thus helping to improvements on good working conditions and other essential services, as indicated the Five Year 2015/16 - 2019/20 Strategic Plan implemented.
Such plan designed to carry out reforms aims at improving infrastructures, that is, constructing modern buildings countrywide to accommodate court sessions and other offices of judges, magistrates and judicial officers, conducting trainings and introducing technology to save Tanzanians time and money.
President Magufuli’s government also continued to maintain good relationship with several donors, particularly the World Bank, which is supporting the Judiciary in implementing various projects under the strategic plan through Citizen-Centric Judicial Modernization and Justice Service Delivery Project.
Among the World Bank sponsored projects include construction of buildings of Coast Resident Magistrate’s Court and Kibaha District Court, District Courts of Bagamoyo, Mkuranga, Kigamboni, and Ilala (Kinyerezi). Others are Kigamboni and Kawe Primary Courts in Dar es Salaam.
In 2018/2019 financial year, for example, the Judiciary of Tanzania in collaboration with the World Bank had set to build a total of six High Court Centres- Integrated Justice Centres- in Morogoro, Dodoma, Mwanza and Arusha Regions in order to provide timely and accessible justice.
Other centres are to be constructed in Temeke District and at Kinondoni District in Dar es Salaam. The constructions works of all six centres are at the advanced stage of developments. Three other District Court buildings were being constructed in Chunya (Mbeya), Ludewa and Makete (Njombe).
During the same fiscal year construction works of District and Primary Court buildings in Mtae (Lushoto), Mdandu (Wanging’ombe), and Mkunya (Newala), Msanzi, Laela and Mtowisa (Sumbawanga), Uyole (Mbeya), Mlimba, Mang’ula na Ngerengere (Morogoro) were carried out.
More construction works of the buildings to be used as district courts are being carried out at Ruangwa, Lindi, Kilwa Masoko, Njombe, Kasulu, Rungwe, Chato, Geita, Kilindi, Songea, Mpanda, Sikonge, Simiyu, Longido, Bunda and Bukombe. The Chief Justice Ibrahim Juma is on record saying that such 16 buildings to accommodate district courts will be constructed.
He says further that construction of other five buildings to house resident magistrates’ courts was going on at Manyara, Geita, Katavi, Njombe and Simiyu Regions.
Initially, there were 24 regions in Tanzania Mainland, which had High Court buildings. However, before the end of the first term of five years of President Magufuli, two other High Court buildings were constructed at Kigoma and Mara Regions, thus making 26 regions to have High Court services.
Before the end of 2017/2018 financial year, the judiciary started another construction of High Court buildings in three regions. These regions are Morogoro, Mwanza, Geita and Singida.
The improvements of infrastructure on part of buildings went with installations of high technological systems, notably the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT), a move described as the best way of accessing information and helping the Judiciary in timely dispensation of justice.
Information and Communication Technology
The Judiciary, having supporting funds from the government under President Magufuli, constructed modern structures that support the use of ICT in order to provide timely and accessible justice for all. Moreover, the Judiciary of Tanzania has established a system for registration and administration of cases known as Judiciary Statistical Dashboard System (JSDS).
Such system application is used to keep records and manage cases both civil and criminal. The Judiciary Statistical Dashboard System also allows Judiciary stakeholders to access the system and register their cases. Such system also can be used to send some information to the citizens concerning their cases through SMS in mobile phones.
It is also connected to the Government e-payment gateway-GePG system to allow citizen to pay various Court fees through Mpesa, Tigopesa, Airtel Money, among other means. The ICT usage in the Judiciary further helps to reduce cost and save time for the citizen.
Through ICT, citizens get more time of doing economic activities rather than using most of their time in Court. Information such as Judgments and Proceedings can be easily and timely accessed. The use of ICT has also increased transparency and reduced corruption within the judiciary.