(Screen grabs from the video)
Corpun file 26868 at www.corpun.com
Reuters News Agency, 4 October 2019
Tanzanian president backs official who beat students with a stick
By Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala
DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Tanzanian president John Magufuli on Friday backed an official who sparked outrage and violated the country's rules by beating more than a dozen students with a stick, and Magufuli urged parents and school teachers to do the same to build a disciplined nation.
"I congratulated the regional commissioner for caning the students. I told him that he didn't beat them hard enough," Magufuli told a public rally in Songwe region, in the southern highlands.
Magufuli, nicknamed "Bulldozer" for his focus on discipline, said the students deserved punishment because they were accused of setting fire to dormitories. Critics, including the local government minister, had said the official violated the students' human rights because they had not been given a fair trial, and only teachers or headmasters are authorized to administer corporal punishment.
The East African nation's leader has courted controversy before. His government refused to share information on Ebola, its economic growth figures were disputed and he once told Tanzanian women to "set your ovaries free" and bear more children.
Corporal punishment is legal in Tanzanian schools, but only a headmaster or designated teacher can administer it.
Video clips went viral on Thursday showing the commissioner, Albert Chalamila, beating a group of male secondary school students contrary to regulations. Holding a stick in each hand, he is seen beating students one by one as they lay on the ground.
The clips sparked public anger among Tanzanians on social media.
"I condemn this barbaric act ... the regional commissioner abused his powers by punishing the students contrary to procedure," Anna Henga, executive director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre, said in a statement.
Magufuli said the students, accused of torching dormitories, got what they deserved.
"We must use the cane against children at schools and at our homes. We must have a disciplined nation," he said.
Some western diplomats have complained that Tanzania is giving short shrift to due process, human rights and rule of law. The government rejects the criticism.
"What human rights are they talking about?" said Magufuli, who ordered all students in A-level classes at the school to be suspended until their parents pay for the damage caused by the alleged arson.
Magufuli's backing of the official appeared to overrule any possible action by Tanzania's regional administration and local government minister, Suleiman Jafo, who told journalists earlier that he would demand an explanation from the official for whipping the students.
Corpun file 26869 at www.corpun.com
The Citizen, Dar Es Salaam, 5 October 2019
Toughen flogging law: Magufuli
President John Magufuli (right) shakes hands with Mbeya Regional Commissioner Albert Chalamila after landing at Songwe Airport in Mbeya Region yesterday before embarking on his official tour of the region. photo | state house
By Louis Kolumbia & Gadiosa Lamtey
Dar es Salaam: President John Magufuli yesterday suggested law amendments that would give greater powers to teachers to flog students.
The Head of State said the government had erred in the current law which restricts the kind of people who have the powers to administer flogging of school children -- and how to do so.
"If at all we erred in the past, then it was in coming up with this law. We all went to school -- and we were caned by teachers whenever we broke school rules. Even in Europe, stubborn students are punished," he stated.
"We are supposed to amend the law" he said. He made the remarks as he commended his appointee who is the Mbeya Regional Commissioner, Mr Albert Chalamila, who flogged 14 secondary school students on camera.
Mr Chalamila, who flogged the students at the Kiwanja Secondary School on Wednesday, followed that by suspending 392 students yesterday, as well as dissolving the school board for alleged negligence and failure to take action against students who owned phones at school -- and were alleged to have torched two dormitories.
Dr Magufuli called on 'activists' who are against the RC's action to publicly flog students -- and also suspend some of them -- to help in reconstructing the razed buildings.
"I spoke with the Mbeya Regional Commissioner and I commended him for caning the students because their behaviour is unacceptable," the President explained.
"Whenever you do something good to the community, you will attract enemies. But, you (the RC) should keep doing that for the good of the community."
Dr Magufuli maintained that, for the suspended students to return to school, their parents must foot the bill for reconstructing the two dormitories. Students allegedly torched the dormitories after their mobile phones were confiscated by the school administration.
In a video clip circulated on social media, the RC directed the 14 students accused of masterminding the torching to pay Sh500,000 each as a fine. He also directed the school administration not to allow transfer of any student from the school.
Earlier yesterday, some human rights groups and lawyers faulted the RC's decision, saying that the Education Act and the Education Circular Number 24 of 2002 do not give the RC the powers to flog students.
"It is a bad and unacceptable act that deserves strong condemnation because it is not the regional commissioner's mandate to cane indisciplined students," said the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) executive director, Anna Henga.
She said the law and the circular grant the whipping mandate to headteachers or teachers who are so authorised by their headteachers. In any case, girl students should only be caned by female teachers.
A former president of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS), Mr John Seka, said additional information is required regarding the incident. He wryly suggested that the RC who publicly caned the students was seeking to impress his appointing authority. "Leaders have the responsibility to serve citizens, and must always avoid incidents that tarnish their image and status as government leaders," he said.
The Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) national coordinator, Onesmo Olengurumwa, said the RC was supposed to issue instructions to the local education officer or the head teacher.
"Appointing authorities should do thorough vetting and provide capacity building seminars to complement their competencies," he said.
A University of Dar es Salaam lecturer, James Jesse, said prison officers can carry out disciplinary whipping if and when so directed by a properly-constituted court of law.
"This is an anomaly like any other anomalies that take place in society. Laws should be observed by leaders in order to build a stable, industrial country," Dr Jesse told The Citizen over the phone.
RELATED VIDEO CLIP
See extracts from the local TV footage of the mass caning in this video clip.