Yesterday, an astonishing video was released on social media of a Bongo Flava artiste, Dudu Baya revealing names of suspected gay artistes in the Tanzanian music industry. This was following the anti-gay witch hunt launched by the Regional Commissioner of the capital of Dar-es-Salaam. According to The East African on Tuesday 30th October 2018, Paul Makonda encouraged Tanzanians to report alleged homosexuals within 3 days for round up arrests next week. "I have information about the presence of many homosexuals in our province," Makonda told reporters on Monday, "Give me their names. My ad hoc team will begin to get hands on them next Monday," he demanded, inciting the public.
Makonda made claims that homosexuals boast on social media while they "advertise" themselves. The anti-gay government official alleged that he had so far received a list of names with over 100 suspected gays and was still getting more. As a passionate devotee of President Magufuli, Makonda emphasized that Tanzanians detest homosexuals and insisted that he would rather suffer the wrath of God than that of "outsiders" since homosexuality tramples on the moral values of Tanzanians, Christianity and Islam. In a bid to foster the crackdowns of LGBT persons especially those linked online, The Star Breaking posted a tweet on 31st October 2018 that a surveillance team has been set up by the Tanzanian police charged with the responsibility of identifying LGBT persons on social media for arrests.
It should be noted that similar to Uganda and Kenya, homosexuality has always been criminalized in Tanzania initially from the German rule into the British colonial era. Same sex conduct is punishable with a maximum life sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment by law. This is not the first time that Makonda made such threats against LGBT persons and how they use social media. In November 2016, the Washington Post reported that during a speech in August of that same year, the anti-gay politician spooked the gay community when he threatened to arrest suspected homosexuals linked to social networking sites. Hamisi Kigwangalla, the Deputy Health Minister is also another Tanzanian government official that has ever intimidated the LGBT community besides the president himself. In February 2017, Kigwangalla vowed to publish names of men working as sex workers. “I will publish a list of gay people selling their bodies online,” he said in a tweet. However, he later declined due to ‘technical reasons’.
Since Joseph Magufuli became president in July 2015, the swirl of violations against gender and sexual minorities in Tanzania to this day has scared many to live secret lives. Their rights have been encroached on especially rights to privacy and health. The consistent threats by government officials, deportation of foreign human rights activists, random crackdowns at meetings resulted to unjustified arrests and detentions which left several LGBT persons in hiding and fear. While most NGOs that advocated for gay rights were deregistered, other effects were life threatening. In 2016/ 2017, the government indefinitely suspended US funded HIV outreach projects and clamped down operations of over 40 privately owned clinics that provided health care to LGBT persons for apparently ‘promoting homosexuality’. The current turn of events in Tanzania has frightened the LGBT community in East Africa and can propagate campaigns against homosexuality in the entire African continent.