THE Chief Medical Officer, Dr Aifello Sichwale, has commended the Judiciary of Tanzania for setting a special day to encourage the citizens, including judicial officers to fight against Covid-19 and effectively participate in the ongoing countrywide vaccination exercise.
Dr Sichwale expressed his gratitude yesterday, while speaking on behalf of the Minister of Health, Ms Ummy Mwalimu during the launch of Tanzania Law Reports for the year 2007 to 2020.
The reports include High Court (Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar) and Court of Appeal decisions, which are crucial in providing justice to the people.
The event officially graced by Chief Justice, Prof Ibrahim Juma, coincided with the launch of the Index of principal and subsidiary legislations from 1961-2020, both in the form of soft copy and hard copy, which aims to assist judicial and stakeholders to apply the legal information in overseeing justice delivery.
The day also witnessed the judiciary launching Covid- 19 vaccination campaign held at Nyerere ‘Square’ in Dodoma.
“I would like to congratulate you for the preparations and thank you for recognising the importance of setting a day to sensitise the community on Covid-19 prevention and the importance of getting vaccinated for judicial staff. You have set a good example for other institutions to follow, as the pandemic still exists,” Dr Sichwale said.
He said that the Ministry of Health is ready to cooperate with the Judiciary of Tanzania to enable its officers to get vaccinated to continue fighting the deadly disease.
He cautioned that the disease was still present, saying vaccinations were necessary as well as encouraging members of the public to continue taking other preventive measures, including regular hands washing with soap and running water or using hand sanitisers, avoiding unnecessary congestion and wearing face masks in congested areas.
The Chief Medical Officer said that since President Samia Suluhu Hassan approved the use of the vaccine in the country, Tanzania has continued to receive and provide vaccines to the people through various means.
He noted that as of January 23rd, 2022, a total of 3,423,563 doses out of 6,408,950 doses, equivalent to 61 per cent received had been administered to the public, with the total number of people who received doses up to January 23rd, 2022 for Mainland Tanzania and the Islands are at 3.27 per cent.
On his side, the Chief Justice, Prof Juma, said that based on his experience with Covid-19, the infection goes up and down, so they must continue to learn to live with caution as its effects will continue to emerge.
"No country in the world has ever prepared for the disease. The pandemic emerged abruptly and spread rapidly. This tragedy has completely changed our lives, the way we relate to our fellow human beings, who live with us, work with them, provide services to them,” he said.
Thus, he commended judicial officers for the way they were able to change from being cowardly and fearful, to being able to continue living together and continuing to provide services together.
He added by urging the judicial staff to continue taking all precautions recommended by the Ministry of Health including vaccination.
“We, as judicial officers, the stakeholders of the judiciary and the citizens who seek service have a continuing responsibility of learning about the different types of infections, how the disease spreads, the precautions we need to take, to protect ourselves and our colleagues,” said the Chief Justice.
However, Prof Juma emphasized the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the workplace, citing the fact that at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, the judiciary continued to provide services by increasing the use of technology in various areas.
These areas include registering and hearing cases online, the use of emails in communication, enabling citizens to access their important information through the Court Website as well as the use of the ‘Video Conference.
For his part, the Principal Judge of the High Court of Tanzania, Mr Mustapher Siyani, said that it is an indisputable fact that since Covid-19 eruption, they have gone through many challenges that not only affect staff health but also performance.
However, he said that the challenge has also brought about a positive contribution to the work performance.
“You will recall earlier, during the Covid-19 outbreak, the judiciary was either to close its services to protect staff and stakeholders in general or came up with a strategy that would facilitate the hearing of cases without endangering the lives of staff and stakeholders in general,” he told the Chief Justice.
According to him, fortunately, the judiciary was well-grounded to address the challenge due to the presence of the Judiciary's Five - Year Strategic Plan and the Citizens Centric Judicial Modernization and Justice Service Delivery Project funded by the Government of Tanzania and the World Bank.
He said the relevant Strategic Plan included improvements in ICT service infrastructure that helped the judiciary to deal with the effects of the disease, as the online case management system (JSDS 2) also included E-Judiciary, which enabled online hearing of cases without the need for stakeholder presence.
The principal judge said that various steps were taken by the judiciary. For example, he said, in May, 2020, the judiciary issued a Digital Judicial Service Provision Guidance Kit (Guidance / Tool Kit) on E-Filing and hearings through Audio Conference Calls and Court Video Link.
"These measures enabled the delivery of justice services through electronic systems and, thus protecting judicial officers and users of our services in general against the Covid-19 virus infection," he said.