Authorities in Tanzania are redeploying potbellied traffic police officers. Interior Minister George Simbachewere contended that the move was necessary because such officers are embarrassment to the police service.
Speaking over the weekend during a road safety symposium in Tanzania’s capital Dodoma, Simbachewere argued that the physical condition of the officers made them unfit to serve.
“They are not popular; how can a police officer have a pot belly? Some of our police officers are using their uniforms to extort bribes from motorists. I’m urging all officers to abide by the law,” Simbachewere was quoted as saying by local media.
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Simbachewere, therefore, ordered Inspector General of Police Simon Sirro to immediately reassign the pot-bellied officers to departments where they can be effective in the service.
Waziri wa Mambo ya Ndani, Mh.Simbachawene, amemuagiza IGP Sirro, kuwaondoa askari wa Usalama Barabarani wenye vitambi na kuwapangia kazi nyingine kwa wamekosa sifa. Angalizo tusije fanya kosa la ubaguzi kazini. Kumulika magari na kutoza fine hakuitaji maguvu. Labda kwa FFU pic.twitter.com/THAvpjVf1t— Olaigwanani-Olengurumwa (@OlengurumwaO) May 23, 2020
In the meantime, president, John Magufuli, is justifying his country’s laissez-faire approach to fighting the spread of the coronavirus, declaring that “God will help us”, at a church service.
“There is not going to be any such thing as lockdown in Tanzania, God will help us. We need to work hard, once the other East Africans are done with their lockdown, they will come to us, and we shall still help them with food, we will not against discriminate them,” Magufuli added.
The president said hospitals were recording recoveries and fewer cases and that should give some hope to the people.
But the picture painted by the president has been challenged by the United States embassy in the country. Last week the embassy’s health alert note suggested that the infection rate in the country is worse than the Tanzanian government would admit.
The embassy alert said “[D]espite limited official reports, all evidence points to exponential growth of the epidemic in Dar and other locations in Tanzania.” There was, however, no evidence to back up the claim.
Magufuli, who has been criticized on the continent and outside, earlier this month expressed skepticism about the country’s numbers of confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, alleging that “probably, the technicians are also bought to mislead.”