TANZANIA'S PUBLIC SAFETY AND SECURITY: WHITHER THE CLASSIC 'FIRE BRIGADE APPROACH?
By a Concerned Citizen,
YESTERDAY, Saturday, August 10, or was it today, Sunday, August 11, 2013? I can’t remember; been having a lot on my mind these days. Anyway, what I was trying to say is I watched this really great movie, about the White House of America – literally taken hostage, invaded and occupied by a group of a really well-trained “paramilitary” force; a.k.a. terrorists. I mean these guys are really mean “badasses”. Excuse me, I didn’t mean to use that word, but, heck, there wasn’t any other word that would best fit their description. I mean, think of the meanest, well-organized, well-trained commandos, who speak several languages, are fully-trained in martial arts, are the best sharp shooters – they never miss – and who ALSO understand how computers, computer networks and software, security systems (access control, counter measures, etc.), the whole deal, and you get the picture of what I’m trying to say. If you haven’t seen the movie, I suggest you do; it should be playing in a theatre near you. Or you could call your buddy with that high-speed Internet connection to “torrent” it for you. Well, I did “torrent” it, and my money and time was well worth it, because it was a complete surprise. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but it was well worth it. If I was watching the movie at Mlimani City’s 20th Century Cinemax, I would be holding on tight to that chair, praying that one of those bullets from those high-powered extra advanced automatic 50 caliber machine guns don’t mess up my handsome face. Haha! Just kidding. I aint handsome; just an average guy.
Ok, here’s the synopsis.
An ex-Special Forces operative and former presidential bodyguard must fight to take back the White House from terrorists who have kidnapped the Commander in Chief (i.e. President) in this high-stakes action thriller directed by Antoine Fuqua of the “Training Day” and “Shooter” legacy, and starring Gerard Butler. In the aftermath of a tragic accident involving the president, played by Aaron Eckhart and the first lady Ashley Judd, Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Butler) is handed his walking papers. Basically this means he is put out to pasture; confined to a desk job. He unwittingly – to avoid from becoming completely “crazy” due to the new emotional and psychological stress in his life – accepts a measly “security officer” at the Department of the Treasury, which is, nevertheless, a desk job. You can imagine his frustration, as his military background of being a Special Forces US Marines soldier, being used to an “action” environment, this is something he never expected in his life. He was as much of a friend to the President and the First Lady, as he was their protector. His sense of guilt, for failing to rescue the First Lady in the fatal accident that took her life, while on the way back to the White House, under such bad weather – snow everywhere, almost-zero visibility, the presidential convoy going at breakneck speeds, foryou can imagine the situation!
But Banning, just like the rest of the US Secret Service team is quite unprepared for the events that were to unfold, unsuspecting amongst them a traitor at the highest ranks within the presidential protective service force. The traitor, Fred Forbes, had sold out the country to the KUK; the North Korean paramilitary group that, literally, had almost taken the US for dead, rendering its arsenal of nuclear missiles into self-detonating bombs by deploying the “Cerbus” protocol.
Hey! Am I giving too much of the plot of this movie? We are already on the fifth paragraph and I haven’t said WHY I am giving you a “sneak peek” review of this movie. Well, I won’t go on; just go see the movie, but before you do, here is why I chose this movie for today’s Blog entry.
What’s my point?
If you want to take over a country, whether or not there are dissenting voices, you must forge alliances with, possibly, mildly disgruntled but highly placed individuals, who will prove useful to your cause. You must take it from within, and that is what exactly what “Kang” – one of the world’s most wanted terrorist mastermind – played by Rick Yune, who played his part superbly! For authenticity, the directors and producers HAD to find an Asian actor, most likely with Korean background, which Yune probably is! He HAD to be believable, and you can’t do that unless you are the “real McCoy”!
Kang carefully studied the First Family, which was key to America’s takeover. When you take over a country from its highest vertices, it becomes more effective, as all the other protective agencies must take contingency measures, which sometimes aren’t so effective and/or practical. And that’s exactly what happened in this high-octane thriller of a movie. While the story is completely fictional, it poses several questions about most countries’ safety and security.
Such questions such as “How safe or how secure are we?” begin to pop up, while watching this movie. Hey, I am someone who is a little bit more observant than the rest of my peers. For example, after the 9-11 event, I began to take note of how “unsafe and unsecure” my country, Tanzania, is. For the benefit of those in charge of our safety and security, here is some advice on what must be done NOW to deal with all the weak spots and loopholes in our country, starting with Dar es Salaam, where our president lives.
Please don’t take this the wrong way; don’t ask me how I know what I know. I just observe and analyze the situation at hand. Let’s just say that God has graced me with an above average intellect, and if I don’t responsibly use this intellect to good use, then I will be just as guilty as any terrorist that would successfully attempt to take over our country! Trust me; we are in more danger now than we were, say, 10 years ago. Why? It’s now become global common knowledge that Tanzania is abundantly endowed with resources such as precious minerals and metals; wildlife; natural gas and oil; as well as a huge land area of arable land that has remained unexplored for years! The rest of the world – and I say this with confidence – is looking at Tanzania with much envy, its’ leaders and captains of industry saying: “Here! Look at this country called Tanzania guys! It’s got the world’s riches, but its people are asleep, and its’ leaders are so corrupt, they can be bought for pennies!” I remember, a white man once said: “Tanzania is the only country where you can go with a dollar in your pocket, and become a millionaire in less than one year!” I find that statement to be quite true!
So, without much further ado, here is my advice, point by point, the theme being “The take-over of Tanzania”. But before I go on, shall I be legally held liable for “exposing” our country’s security weaknesses on the Internet? So, I believe I must end here this feature, until I get proper advice from my beautiful legal counsel. This thing has already been blown out of proportion: Leaders coming out, foaming at the mouth – these bloody criminals, spraying Sulfuric Acid on innocent people and giving us a bad name on the international arena! I spoke out about this several months ago, when the spate of attacks started happening in Zanzibar; churches being burnt, several people – including the Qadhi’s Secretary – being sprayed with acid, several people being shot, while the Parochial Leader of the Zanzibar Catholic Church, Reverend Evarist Mushi was shot and killed, not too long ago, and asked this one key question: “Why, instead of sitting on our behinds, don’t we ask about the motives of these people committing all these crimes?” I posted the question on Facebook last year, before I became greatly disappointed with this social network, as it had become a forum for vicious and malicious verbal attacks between our youth; I cancelled my account. Never been back since. No regrets! The only regret is, I wasted my precious time!
There is always a “motive”, in Latin, it’s called “modus operandi” or “M.O.” as cops like to say in movies and TV shows. It’s the “motive” of the criminal’s mind; his/her motive. People just DON’T go around committing crimes; the motive could be to gain money and/or property; revenge; jealousy; or creating the environment for a “hostile takeover” by sabotaging a nation’s safety and security mechanism, tarnishing its’ public image, at both local and international levels.
The people who burned down churches in Zanzibar; who shot and severely wounded people; who sprayed people with acid; who shot and killed religious leaders; ALL had a singular motive, which is – Make Zanzibar an unlivable country for foreign tourists and/or visitors with social agendas, such as those working in schools, health institutions, etc. The two British girls, both 18, were volunteer teachers, who had worked in Zanzibar for about a month. They had only one day left to leave before they were attacked. One could safely conclude that their attackers had investigated them from the day their feet touched the ground in Zanzibar.
These attackers were well organized; they planned everything, starting with choosing the “perfect victim(s)”; someone with a pure soul, possibly female, working in charitable organizations – such as schools, hospitals, etc. – and most definitely foreign! They succeeded, for their agenda was to make sure that Zanzibar, and consequently Mainland Tanzania, become blacklisted at the international level as being “unsafe”, so whoever may dare tread within its’ territories would do so “at own risk”. Virtually, foreigners are being told: “It’s your own grave you’re digging if you choose to go to Zanzibar…”
First, Europeans are so scared right now, they don’t want to think about Zanzibar; it’s all over social forums. Second, it will be North Americans. The US Federal Department of State, through US Embassies worldwide, publishes what it calls “Travel Advisory Statements”, for every country. This is a document that advises US citizens who wish to travel to a particular country on its’ safety and security ranking; if the statement says “travel at own risk”, US citizens would tend to translate that as being “Hell no! I aint going over there! No way!” Third will be South America, then fourth will be the Far East, and lastly, fifth, will be Australasia as well as the Pacific Islands including the Caribbean Island. The entire world – even our own neighbours – will mark us as deadly terrorists, walking around with acid canisters, ready to pour it on anyone we don’t like or we have a “beef” with! We won’t be any different from the Arabs, who have literally been branded as “Al Qaeda”. What will they brand us with? Acid Terrorists?
We have already been branded as “drug” mules; here’s a pat on the back to CCM for successfully managing to have us branded as “Acid Terrorists”! A new accolade to us all! Bravo! Heck, if I’m gonna blame someone, I must start with the ruling party CCM and its’ Government, starting, of course, with President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, right? But maybe Kikwete shouldn’t be blamed all by himself, however, he must be asked a lot of pertinent questions.
Hey Mr. President, where were you when innocent civilians, such as the infamous Musa Tesha were being attacked with acid (the Police arresting CHADEMA cadres for the crime – have you read their scathing report on the kind of abuse they had to suffer at the hands of the Police, who tortured them with electric shocks forcing them to implicate CHADEMA’s leadership with “acts of terrorism” but they said “NO! We wont!” ?); or when a Sheikh was recently attacked with acid during the few days prior to the postponed Ward Elections in Arusha? Countless of people have been attacked with acid. In Igunga, Tabora, a CHADEMA cadre from Dar es Salaam was brutally murdered and dumped in a forest; to-date, no suspect(s) have ever been called to stand in front of the courts. The police allegedly know the culprits, but for political reasons, are protecting them, because they allegedly belong to the “Green Guards” militia unit of CCM!
Heck! We all want to live as long as possible, don’t we? We’re all – well, most of us anyway – afraid of dying, especially a violent death such as being shot by a gun, or getting into other troubles. Now, think! Who in their right mind would go to a country where they are being told “Don’t say we didn’t warn you…”? Do they have a death wish?
I am rather surprised, or let me say, dismayed, at our Government leaders approach to this situation, calling it a “new and recent crime” while spates of acid attacks, brutal killings, beatings and maiming have been going on since 2009! What’s so “new” about acid attacks?
When it was our own Tanzanian brothers and sisters who succumbed to these attacks, the Government did nothing; it was nothing to worry about. Now that the situation has gone out of control, the Government suddenly “wakes up and smells the bad, sour tasting coffee”, that the matter must be immediately controlled. It’s “damage control” time, which, in most cases, is very difficult to achieve.
Right now, ever since CNN International went “global” with the Breaking News about two teenage British girls being victims of an acid attack in Zanzibar, damage had already been done. As the audience of CNN International is in the hundreds of millions, the news item was seen and heard by scores of people everywhere that CNN iInternational is viewed. The story – I am certain – must have been translated into several “key” international languages, probably even Mandarin Chinese! There is an old adage that says: “There is no news like bad news!” I don’t know who said it, but I tend to agree with them, because, indeed, these days – such as it was during the Jingoistic Journalism times of the US – bad news seems to follow people wherever they go! And it sells faster than Aunt Jemima’s Chocolate Syrup on top of a buttered hotcake, at Wendy’s! Ha ha ha! My African brothers and sisters here may/not get this pun here… Oh! Heck! I told y’all in my first post that my writing style is influenced by many factors! If you want clarification, speak up!
Conclusively, while the “Olympus Has Fallen” story IS in fact purely fiction, for me, it’s a little too close to reality. It addresses all the normal social issues we are all faced with in this globalized society; greed, revenge, hunger for power and/or money, and of course, the vulnerability of man due to the love of money, power, social status, luxury and wealth.
There are people like Fred Forbes, who are highly placed Government officials in key and sensitive jobs. They all have a price – you meet theirs, you get what you want, sometimes for almost free, and they may even throw in a couple of bonuses just for the heck of it. You gave them what you wanted, didn’t you?
During one of the scenes in the movie, Acting President who is also Speaker of the House of Representatives, who, in case neither the President nor the Vice President can actively dispense their duties, the Speaker of the House of Representatives becomes Acting President. The Acting President must be sworn in by the Supreme Court Chief Justice, and in his absence, a highly-ranked National Security or Pentagon official can “swear” him in. A notification comes in to the Pentagon Crisis Room, that a Hydra weapon has just been activated and is firing at the convoy of choppers of US Navy Seals who had been sent in to search for and rescue the President, who, at the time, was being held hostage by Kang and his KUK group of North Korean paramilitary members.
“Sir! They have just launched a Hydra weapon!” says one of the Pentagon officials in the Criris Room.
Acting President, brilliantly played by Morgan “Old Man” Freeman, responds: “What’s a Hydra?”
“It’s one of our most advanced military equipment, still in its prototype stages,” responds the man.
“And how the hell did they get it?” asks Acting President.
“Well, they have it…” responds the middle aged, chubby Pentagon ‘man in black’.
At this time, nobody in the Pentagon Crisis Room knows that Fred Forbes is the ‘mole’ within the US Secret Service, who opened doors for Kang and his group. Forbes gave all the key information and weaponry to Kang. He opened doors to allow the United States of America to be taken over by a bunch of misguided ragtag paramilitary terrorists, whose only motive was to see America crumble to its knees. They failed, however!
There could be well over one hundred such ‘moles’ within Tanzania’s safety and security organs; the Fred Forbes of Tanzania, unlike him, aren’t clearly as well trained and well versed in matters of proper security. They just aren’t prepared for such an attack; neither am I, so I must admit. In fact, 90% of Tanzanians are not.
Our Disaster Management Department at the Vice President’s Office is clearly not doing enough to counter any man-made or natural disaster that may occur. We witnessed their “effectiveness” in managing disasters, all the way from the Mv. Bukoba disaster on Lake Victoria to the Mv. Spice Islanders disaster on the Ras of Nungwi in Zanzibar, to the Mv. Skagit disaster, and most recently, the collapse of the 16-floor dangerously built skyscraper on Indira Gandhi Street in Dar es Salaam!
While they pat themselves on the back, they couldn’t come up with a clear figure of how many people were killed or survived during the collapse of the high riser; they tended to water down figures, so as to make people believe that the disaster wasn’t so drastic, while word on the street said as much as 60-70 people died, and scores more – in hundreds – are still missing! Yeah! Job well done!
I won’t say much about the Presidential Security Services of the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Services (TISS), because they seem to know it all. I dare not expose their obvious – literally common sense, not rocket science – weaknesses, for fear of being kidnapped, tortured and left for dead in Mabwepande, as Dr. Stephen Ulimboka and Mr. Absalom Kibanda were recently. Kibanda was attacked right outside his gate, as he returned home coming in late from work. It happened so fast he had no time to even call out for help. “These were professionally trained assassins, not your ordinary muggers,” Kibanda said.
Meanwhile, in a new turn of events, Commissioner of Police for the Dar es Salaam Region Special Zone, Suleiman Kova has blamed Ulimboka for being “uncooperative”. “We have called him in several times so that we may take his statement but so far he has refused, which is delaying our investigation. We can’t finish if he doesn’t cooperate with us,” said Kova.
Prior to his being sent to South Africa and upon his return, Ulimboka named one Ramadhani Ighondu, who is a State House official, working on the Presidential Security Advisory team, which is also part of TISS. Ulimboka said Ighondu and his colleagues orchestrated his kidnapping, beating, torture and being left for dead in Mabwepande. A weekly, which had been carrying and following up the story, also found conclusive evidence to implicate Ighondu, which was published, a little over a year ago. The Ulimboka Gate story is believed to have been the last straw on the Government’s back, which led to the decision to suspend the weekly – MwanaHalisi – for an indefinite period of time, citing among many other reasons, lack of cooperation (for what?) and publishing distorted information and, of course, lies!
Instead of addressing the issues at hand, which are many, such as the Police-coordinated and Police-orchestrated organized crime and wildlife poaching as well as narcotics trafficking and distribution, the Government is tackling only ONE issue – acid attacks – while, in terms of our safety and security, there are so many more! At the speed that the Government is dealing with acid attacks, it’s as if we have been invaded and we are in our Crisis Room, left with only one thing: Praying that the likes of Mike Banning to save the day! What if? I ask again? Our version of Mike Banning fails to do the job because he is not properly prepared for it, what will happen? What then?
Mr. President, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, your House is not in order; it has demonstrated that it is unprepared and poorly trained to do the job of ensuring the safety and security of the people of Tanzania and their country at large. Any terrorist – and this is a fact, take it or leave it, Mr. President – can come in and study us, as a tourist! We won’t know a thing, because we don’t have the intelligence mechanisms to scrutinize people as they carry on their daily activities, whether during the day or night.
Simple things, such as CCTV cameras mounted on traffic lights, which were proposed on the 2007 ICT Strategic Plan of the Tanzania Police Force (TPF), have yet to be implemented. High rise buildings such as the PPF Plaza on Ohio Street and Garden Avenue in downtown Dar es Salaam has, clearly, a poorly designed access control system. A person who tells the check-in personnel that he is going to such and such an office on the Sixth Floor, can easily get off any floor and, if that person doesn’t have good intentions, can easily open the exit doors on the staircase, walk to another floor and carry out his version of “justice”.
Literally, unsuspecting tenants of PPF Plaza and many other valuable buildings in Dar are NOT safe! I’m just pointing out some of the more obvious weaknesses and challenges to our public safety issues, so y’all don’t come and arrest me, to start labeling me a “terrorist”.
You are better off, Mr. President, to work with me as I clearly have observed these challenges for a long time. As I said, I can’t list ALL the weaknesses because that would put the country at risk. If I’m going to be consulted, Mr. President, I will ONLY do so in your presence and under the presence of your most trusted national security advisors; I know two of them, and I trust them all. I even had the pleasure of working with one of them a few years back, after I contacted you and you sent both men to me. One had called me earlier but I told him that his colleague had already contacted me, so he said: Good!
I am open 24-7 to assist you Mr. President, because this issue of acid attacks is too blown out of proportion. I can advise you accordingly what must be done, because I know that our country has the resources to protect itself. I am a committed patriot, which is why I am raising the issue and how best NOT to tackle it. While we are busy dealing with only one piece of the safety and security issues, others will take advantage of our preoccupation with acid attacks, and concentrate their criminal activities in areas not addressed by us.
When CNN International labels Zanzibar and Mainland Tanzania as being “unsafe”, they do not do so lightly; they have clearly done their homework. They have insiders within the US safety and security systems, they have ears and eyes, and they ask the right questions to get right answers.
How many times, Mr. President, have we put our country literally at ransom, by failing to completely address the issue of corruption by Government officials, most of them being held in key positions, such as one Mr. Achacha of the Department of Immigration at the Julius Nyerere International Airport? Have you heard how he terrorizes both Tanzanians and foreigners wanting to depart the country from JNIA, citing a myriad of stupid reasons, just because he CAN deny people their right to leave the country, and, most often, because he wants to be bribed, so say people who have suffered at his hands?
We have many problems, Mr. President. It is time we addressed them all, at once, instead of taking the piecemeal and/or fire brigade approach. It won’t work.
I propose we urgently form the National Safety and Security Advisory Commission (NSSAC); there are good people who can be appointed to serve on NSSAC, such as Hon. Judge Francis Mutungi, but you already gave him another job, didn’t you? He is well placed at that office; he will do it justice.
Can we get started? Bring me a list and I will tell you who is fit to lead and sit on the Commission; that will be my first contribution. You can pay me when we get done… but an allowance will be essential for me to continue offering my services to you. If you want my email, ask my Aunt Grace in Trinidad.