SHEIKH PONDA PLEADS ‘NOT GUILTY’ ONCE AGAIN

The secretary of the Council of Muslims’ Organisations Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda and 49 followers have pleaded not guilty to all charges

MKADAM Swalehe appeared before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court for the second time on Thursday, joining the Secretary of the Council of Muslims Organization, Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda, and his 49 followers who are facing five charges.

Sheikh Ponda, and his 49 followers, denied all charges in connection with committing conspiracy, trespass, criminal possession and stealing materials worth 59.6m/- from Agritanza limited. Before the arraignment of Swalehe, Sheikh Ponda was facing the fifth charge of inciting people to commit an offence alone.

All accused persons denied all charges once again yesterday and were bailed out except for Sheikh Ponda and Swalehe. The defence lawyer, Mr Juma Nassoro, explained that the defence side understands that Tanzania Muslim Council of Tanzania (Bakwata) is a council that leads some Muslims.

It should not be believed that Bakwata leads all Muslims in Tanzania. “Bakwata is there but it should not be understood that it is there to lead all Muslims across the nation. It is there for a certain group of Muslims,” he said. Mr Nassoro further said that his client deserved to be treated with dignity and was entitled to human rights as any other accused person.

Therefore, he asked the court to stop bringing Sheikh Ponda to court in handcuffs. “I ask your court to stop bringing my client (Sheikh Ponda) to court in handcuffs. It is not fair. He deserves human rights like any other person because the court has not yet proved him guilty,” he told the court. Magistrate Victoria Nongwa adjourned the case to November 29, the day witnesses from prosecution side will testify.

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MORE THAN 800 SAUTI STUDENTS FAIL TO CONFERED THEIR DEGREES THIS YEAR

SAINT AUGUSTINE UNIVERSITY OF TANZANIA

OVER 800 students form Saint Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) will not be confered with their degrees this year after they failed to meet academic requirements to graduate.

The students are from different departments at the university’s main campus in Mwanza, including some from the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications as well as Education.

SAUT Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dr Thadeus Mkamwa announced that a total of 2,817 students were expected to graduate this year (November 24), but at least 514 male and 314 female students have failed to meet the academic requirements to do so.

“The number of failures is unprecedented at our university, but we want to ensure academic excellence thus students who graduate here have to meet the stipulated academic requirements,” he said.

The Head of Department (Journalism and Mass Communications), Ms Imane Duwe expressed concern over what she termed as alarming number of failures, saying that in the department alone 84 out of 119 finalists, which is 70 per cent, have not qualified to graduate this year.

Dr Mkamwa observed that among the main reasons for students to fail to graduate this year include incomplete course-works, students’s failure to submit their research work (dissertation), abscondment and others due to failure to pay their tuition fees.

He reassured the public that the institution will continue to take all necessary measures to promote quality education in the country with the aim of producing competent individuals to compete in both the local and international market in their various professional fields.

2014 TANZANIA, UGANDA AND DRC WILL ENJOY 4G NETWORK

SMILE TELECOMS DELIVERS AFFORDABLE HIGH QUALITY AND EASY TO USE BROADBAND ACCESS AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES TO CUSTOMERS ACROSS AFRICA

Smile Telecoms, the company launched five years ago by former MTN executive Irene Charnley, has announced an extension to its current working partnership with Alcatel-Lucent to deploy Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks in Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Under the latest deal, the French-US vendor will design, build and operate services for Smile’s 4G network infrastructure as part of a five-year agreement to bring fixed and mobile broadband services to Africa.

Smile Telecoms says it envisions a three-year rollout to achieve nationwide coverage in all three countries with full commercial 800MHz or 2600MHz LTE services. The group’s local units will cover the whole of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and the Ugandan capital Kampala by end-March 2013; near-national coverage is scheduled in both markets in 2014. Smile intends to offer what it terms of ‘ADSL-type connectivity speeds’ to homes and businesses at that date, as well as offering full mobile broadband access at speeds of up to 20Mbps.

Smile Telecoms is backed by Saudi Arabian firms Al-Nahla Technology and Atheeb Trading Company. Its COO Tom Allen says that the group is also keen to add South Africa to its footprint if it can secure frequencies there. The Tanzanian service is up-and-running and according to Allen, has signed up 400 customers in its first six weeks; in Uganda it has 180 customers after four weeks. Smile has four base stations in Tanzania and three in Uganda.

This will be expanded to 120 towers in each of those markets by February 2013. ‘Alcatel will give me the whole of Dar es Salaam and Kampala by February,’ Allen said. Although Smile has not yet inaugurated a commercial service in the DRC, it intends to have 30 4G base stations operational in the capital, Kinshasa, by Q3 2013.

Smile’s focus is squarely set on the data market, with the COO noting that anyone trying to make a business model based on mobile voice faces ‘a hard road’ to survive in a competitive market. The group started life as a WiMAX-based services provider but switched to LTE technology by 2009 when according to Allen, it ‘became obvious’ that the digital dividend band around 800MHz was the ‘place to be’.