John Magufuli

Tanzania president pardons more than 5,000 prisoners

Sammy Awami

BBC News, Dar es Salaam

President Magufuli
President John Magufuli led the country's independence day celebrations

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has pardoned more than 5,000 prisoners in a move aimed at reducing congestion in prisons.

The president made the announcement on Monday as the country marked its 58th anniversary of independence.

He ordered that 5,533 prisoners be should released with the process starting on Tuesday.

This is the highest number of prisoners to be freed in this way and accounts for about 15% of all prisoners in the country.

"Some of these prisoners have been jailed over minor offences: stealing chickens, insulting his friend, having an argument with a lover," the president explained.

"But some were detained because they lacked lawyers to defend them well in their cases, while others for a failure to pay fines," he added.

Among those who are set to be pardoned include those given a one-year jail term and those with only one year left on their sentence.

President Magufuli said the country’s jails had 35,803 inmates and more than half of those were still waiting to go on trial.

Tanzanian comedian apologises to Magufuli over face-swap

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Tanzania comedian Idris Sultan has apologised to President John Magufuli for the face-swap photos he shared during the president's birthday.

The comedian told journalists that he shared the photos in good faith and was using art to celebrate the president.

“I had no ill intentions; I was just wishing the president a happy birthday. If the president did not like my birthday message, I apologise,” he said.

Sultan was summoned by the police a day after he posted the face-swap photos on his social media accounts.

“I have cooperated with the police and a tribunal has been formed to discuss the matter, then the attorney general will on Monday decide whether it will proceed to court,” he said.

The comedian said his birthday message to the president was taken out of context.

He explained that it was an artistic way of celebrating President Magufuli just like musicians would celebrate him with a song.

“The outcome of this case will also have a great impact on the entertainment industry in Tanzania and so my lawyers and colleagues in the entertainment industry are following it closely,” he added.

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Comedian 'summoned' for mocking Tanzania's leader

Sammy Awami

BBC Africa, Dar es Salaam

Popular Tanzanian comedian Idris Sultan has been ordered to report to a police station in the main city, Dar es Salaam, after posting edited pictures of President John Magufuli on his social media accounts, local media report.

The comedian and one-time winner of Big Brother Africa shared two photos with a face-swap of him and the president.

One picture showed Mr Magufuli’s head atop Sultan’s likeness, complete with braces, arms folded and sleeves rolled up.

The second photo showed the comedian’s face on Mr Magufuli’s body, suited and posed on a presidential chair with the national seal.

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Sultan wrote in Swahili: "We swapped roles for a day so that he could enjoy his birthday in peace."

President Magufuli celebrated his 60th birthday on Tuesday.

Sultan has more than five million followers across his social media accounts.

Shortly after the posts appeared, an Instagram account thought to belong to Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda posted one of the pictures, with a caption telling Sultan to report to any police station in the city for further instructions.

It added that Sultan "doesn’t know the boundaries of his work".

Sultan could potentially be charged under controversial cyber-crime legilslation, which makes it illegal to impersonate people using a computer.

Many rights activists have criticised the law as infringing on freedom of expression.

Read: Five things Magufuli has banned

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