Tuesday, July 10, 2012


CCM’s Chadema Spin on Doctors’ Strike and Ulimboka’s Torture

Dr. Azaveli Feza Lwaitama
(Retired)Senior Lecturer
Philosophy Program
University of Dar es Salaam

For two weeks now one has greeted by the sad spectacle of news of one of the most abominable human rights violations to have ever taken place in the entire history of Tanzania. This is the abduction and horrible torture of the leader of the current doctors’ strike, Dr. Ulimboka Stephen.  The plucking of Dr. Ulimboka’s teeth and finger nails without applying anaesthesia and the alleged smashing of his private parts is particularly horrendous.

Dr. Ulimboka told fellow doctors when he briefly gained a measure of full consciousness at the Muhimbili Orthopaedics Institute (MOI), several hours after the terrible night-long ordeal. Dr. Ulimboka has claimed that the heavily armed people who abducted and inhumanely tortured him and left him for dead in the Pande forest in Mabwepande village, on the outskirts of the Dar es Salaam Region, kept asking him to agree to corroborate the allegation that the doctors’ strike was a political scheme instigated by Chadema.

It is in this case curious that there have been reports emanating from the current session of the Tanzania Parliament to the effect that Parliamentarians hailing from the ruling party CCM have been arguing that the doctors’ strike is a result of evil machinations by the main opposition party Chadema.  The CCM Parliamentarians who have been pushing this Chadema spin on the reasons for the devastating doctors’ strike happen to be, among others, the National Treasurer of CCM and a member of its Central Committee and a Regional Commissioner who is a recent appointee of the incumbent CCM Presidency.  

The CCM Parliamentarians claim that the doctors’ strike has not arisen because doctors have genuine employment related grievances but that rather the strike has been instigated by the main opposition party Chadema bent on making the country ungovernable.  Even Prime Minister, in answering a question in Parliament fielded by another CCM Parliamentarian, agreed that the government has “heard” about the allegation that the doctors’ strike may have been a result of political scheming. The Prime Minister, however, was circumspect, telling Parliament that the government has directed relevant government investigative organs to look into the matter and report back on the validity of the allegations.

It is not clear whether indeed the government investigative organs have already reported back to the government on whether there existed empirical evidence to support a Chadema role in the staging of the doctors’ strike. It is in this case not inconceivable that the abduction and torture of Dr. Ulimboka may have been part of efforts by individuals in the government investigative organs who may have been overzealous in wanting to establish such empirical evidence to support a Chadema spin on the doctors’ strike. These are the individuals in the government investigative organs, who may  happen to be covert CCM enthusiasts, may perhaps be the “sources” who have been supplying bits of leaks to CCM Parliamentarians who are making these curious outbursts in Parliament meant to sustain a Chadema spin on the doctors’ strike.
It is to the credit of the spin doctors who assisted President Jakaya Kikwete  in putting together his traditional end of the month speech  for June released last Sunday night  that  that Presidential speech  stayed clear of any reference to the Chadema spin on the reasons for what is deemed by government, as well as overzealously partisan CCM Parliamentarians like Honourable Mwigulu Nchemba and Honourable Stella Manyanya, as the doctors’ continued refusal to accept government terms in the negotiations with the doctors right up to when they decided to stage the strike.

Listening to the President’s speech one was given to feel that the public was being encouraged to believe that the doctors were for some unknown reason not being appreciative of what the government has so far been able to do in improving the lot of the doctors and matters in general in the health sector.  The situation is thus confusing. Since Dr. Ulimboka is said to have mentioned names of senior police officials who he alleged to have participated in his torture, it would be wise if President Kikwete, who is the CCM national Chairman, instituted an independent inquiry in to the abduction and torture of Dr. Ulimboka.  Such an inquiry is urgent especially considering that CCM Parliamentarians have sought to offer a Chadema spin on the reasons for the doctors’ strike. The public needs to be reassured that the incumbent CCM-led government does not tolerate the existence in the government investigative machinery rogue elements whose attitude towards their professional intelligence gathering work does not rule out use of torture and the committing of crimes against humanity in the name of preserving public order.  The inquiry could only be seen as independent if it is at least led by an independent minded retired judge. 


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