A Tanzanian legislator has been handed a five month jail term for defaming President John Pombe Magufuli in a ‘hate speech’ delivered while addressing a rally on December 30, last year.
The Senior Resident Magistrate at Mbeya Resident Magistrate Court, Michael Mteite delivered the ruling against the member of parliament for Mbeya Urban, Joseph Mbilinyi, popularly known as ‘Sugu’.
Mbilinyi, who is a member of the leading opposition party in Tanzania, Chadema, was sentenced along with the party’s secretary for the Southern Highland Zone, Emmanuel Masonga.
The opposition politicians were charged on January 16 this year and prosecution produced five witnesses and an audio exhibit that was said to have been recorded by the fifth witness, a police officer.
At the time of their arrest, police said they were being questioned because police saw their utterances about killings of people whose bodies were then disposed of in polythene bags and tossed into the sea, as ‘sowing hatred between the public and the government.
The popular legislator had earlier told his supporters to remain calm, even as security was beefed up at the court anticipating possible crowd trouble.