Continued from yesterday
FROM horse’ mouth Judge Thomas Bashite Mihayo, a man of unique intertwined professional lives.
A lot has been said including that lawyers are shysters, but Judge Thomas Mihayo, a man of many lives, his retirement in this noble profession has sharpened and made him versatile to still be ‘milked’ in the society, and that prompted the fifth phase government to elevate him as the Tanzania Tourist Board chairman at 70s.
Spotting his unique worth top qualities, Mohamed Mambo, Daily News Chief Photographer, approached him for an interview and the following emerged.
Q : Is there one case that has affected you most after you passed a verdict and regretted?
A: In my experience, I regretted when I had to acquit a person because he is what I used to say “morally guilty” but not “legally guilty” I will give two examples:- • In one case I presided as a young magistrate in 1972, someone had been charged with arson. The facts were that on a Monday, he had a quarrel with the owner of the house regarding a place of land and the accused had said “Wait, you will see”.
A day after this, the complainant found his house gutted. The only evidence they get was a small piece of blanket.
The accused was arrested as the strongest suspect on account of the exchanges. The case gave me a lot of sleepless nights.
I discussed it with my senior, the late Justice Buxton Chipeta, he was a Senior Resident Magistrate then. He advised that on the facts, it was an acquittal.
My conscious was so certain this person was the arsonist. But where was the evidence? Eventually, I had to acquit. The law is, that suspicion however strong, cannot be used to ground a conviction. • The second was an appeal upon conviction for rape. The evidence was very strong. But corroboration was missing. The offence was reported a week after commission because the family was waiting for the father of the victim who had gone on safari! This acquittal really pained me.
Q : What was the worst piece of evidence you were forced to see?
A: I really do not know how I can answer! When I started work we used to conduct inquests in for purposes of finding cause for some of the deaths. I am surprised these days this Act is not in use. Mostly these days they are using “Commissions of inquiry!” Accidents like the Ukara Ferry could have been unlocked by an inquisition with less cost but some result!
Q : What has been the scariest moment in your career?
A: Now, when conducting an inquest there were incidences of a magistrate ordering and supervising an exhumation of a body. I was a young man then and deaths were rare. It was very scary to watch the human remains being exhumed. Down the line, you get used and life goes on. Again I can remember two.
The first one happened when I was in Tanga as a Resident Magistrate. In my second year. I was in Lead Memorial Hall, (now Mkonge Hotel) and a live band was performing.
A tough looking young man held me by the shoulder and asked, “Do you remember me?” I said no. Y ou sent me to Maweni (The Regional Prison) last year for eight months and now I am out.
And then he said “good bye” and left. He left me terribly terrified and actually trembling, the lady I was dancing with saw all this and started to cry.
Some guard came and when he learned, who I was, I called the police who took me home. I hardly slept even if a policeman had been posted to my house to guard me! The second one was recently, a year or so ago, when another person I met at fruits kiosk called out “Judge Mihayo, you are too tough.
You put me to jail for 30 years? But I behaved well in prison and I am now out. I stopped robbing.” I jumped in my car and drove off. I did not remember him nor did I say good bye.
Q : Being once a Judge of the High Court of Tanzania, what are the new broom/officers likely to learn from you as they support the country (at the highest court hierarchy) to tame economic saboteurs, who seem to be obstacles in the Fifth Phase government’s dream of industrialization and as a result of fleecing community projects?
A: A judge’s work becomes easier once “he abides by the law, has integrity and fairness, he is firm, incorruptible and reads the law.”
A Judge’s work is very difficult. If a Judge accepts a bribe from someone who wants that Judge to call ‘white-black,’ the job becomes more difficult.
A Judge should be an example when on duty and even when he retires. The Society expects a lot from him. He should reciprocate and give to Society what they expect of him. He should be an example of humility.
Q : You seem to be a versatile person and down to earth public servant to the extent that you were seen recently dishing out leaflets to motorists in attempt to reach them and the public with an information, why did you chose the way instead of hiring an agent or a person to do it on your behalf and be in office for official duties at your level (being Chairman of Tanzania Tourist Board(TTB) and remember you once sent some people to jail, are you not risking your life walking without a bodyguard?).
A: This question is interesting but let me start with the last part. Retired Judges have no body guards in this country. Why? I don’t know. So, each one of us devices a way of life that suits him or her to minimize any risks. The dishing out of the Swahili International Tourism Expo (SITE) leaflets was something I enjoyed even if I did it the first time.
The Expo was four days away. Management had briefed me of the progress. I thought I was duty bound to put fire in the team managing the Expo. That was the day we had to do massive publicity.
So I told the Committee that I will be there in the morning at 07:00 hrs. Many of them did not believe, but when I arrived they were very energized. Following the incidence, many in the committee spent sleepless nights at the venue during the last two days before the opening ceremony. So what I did was a motivation, and it really worked.
Q : You are a strong Catholic adherent, how do you handle your faith and work in the office that at times you find not tallying and require you to sacrifice to implement what Tanzanians ex pect from you.
A: At the celebrations to commemorate 150 years of arrival of Catholic Missionaries at Bagamoyo, the place was jammed to capacity. Chief Guest was President John Magufuli. During collections, he broke all security and started collecting.
He went from place to place collecting. The security system had tough time. It was an act of humility. Pope Francis not long ago during last Easter celebration, kissed the feet of beggars, drunkards and ordinary people in the Vatican. That touched me a great deal. Acts of humility show leadership, because leadership means to lead, to show the way. I have never liked people who over-hype themselves.
So, I enjoyed the occasion. I can only give a quote from the Holly Bible. I am always guided by the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 14 verse 1-6 which says this:- “The Healing of a Man with Dropsy, ‘On a Sabbath he went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.
In front of him there was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking, “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?” But they kept silent; so he took the man and, after he had healed him, dismissed him.
Then he said to them, “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” But they were unable to answer his question.”
So sometimes when we go for roadshows, we have to make presentations on a Sunday. What I do is read the Gospel of the day, say a prayer and do my work. It is a sacrifice I make for my Country.
I believe that God sees that I am correct.
Q : What are your new ideas to improve TTB and leave a legacy like the one you left behind in law corridors?
A: The first problem I feel at TTB is having the right people at the right position. We have people who are not supposed to be where they are. So mostly they do not know what they are doing!
The second one is turning around the organization to be responsive to the conditions and dictations of the day than the “business as usual” syndrome. We are now trying to open new markets. Most of the world is moving fast. We are dealing with cross-border business.
Our partners complain so much on our culture. Sometimes they are left flabbergasted when an email takes two days to be answered or not answered at all even if it may be to our advantage. This is the culture I want to try to eradicate. People at TTB should work with passion. I can see some response but we are not there yet.
A: After promulgation of the Arusha Declaration, people from all walks of life marched to Dar es Salaam in support thereof.
The late Mwalimu Nyerere in answer to that, walked on foot from Butiama to Mwanza. Imagine, a President of the Country doing that. I remember one of his resting stations was Nassa Ginnery, in Ng’wamanyili Ward, Busega District.
It is not far from my village. At that Ginnery the General Manager was told to relocate, his house was painted and refurbished for the comfort of the Head of State. Mwalimu did not spend the night there but went to sleep at Ng’wanangi Catholic Mission in a normal room!
Q : What are the current challenges you are facing at the TTB and how are you addressing them.
A: The first challenge is monetary. When you talk of tourism, you talk sampling your products and telling strategic markets of what you have. Let me put it this way: - First, although the government has done a lot to fund TTB, the funds have fallen short of our real budget.
TTB needs to develop packages that they can sell. But on account of having many players in the industry it is not possible to be consistent. For example, Hotels have not been rated and we see little hope. It becomes difficult to sell a destination if Hotels rating is not known.
Rating of Hotels helps tourists to plan and budget. I sometimes get the feeling that we are not having a marketing strategy that answers the dynamics of the day.
We are not attacking new markets. Our Directorate of marketing, even if it is supposed to be the engine of TTB, is very weak and actually has had no permanent substantive Director.
To turn around the industry, we need to pull together, I sometimes have a feeling that all the players in the tourism sector have rarely talked with one voice. Sometime ago, the idea of turning TTB into an Authority was mooted. I am seriously considering resuscitating this idea and put it to the Government.
Q : If you have anything else you want to add out of the above questions.
A: I always joke with friends and say to retire is “to re-tire” meaning to put on new tires. In life there is more danger if you stay put and do nothing unless you are unable to move.
So, be that as it may, if my body and health allows, I will try and do something. I will do plenty of retiring in perpetuity when I die.