Tanzania’s leading opposition party Chadema has vowed to relentlessly push electoral and legislative reforms ahead of the East African country’s election in 2025.
The center-right political party has been having dialogue with the government as one of the strategies to force reforms in a bid to have fair electoral contests.
Party’s Secretary General John Mnyika said the talks they initiated with President Samia Suluhu’s Government collapsed after realizing that the regime is not committed to constitutional and legislative reforms.
“We were in dialogue with the government but it appears after one year they are not ready to undertake constitutional and legislative changes we have been pushing,” said Mnyika.
Speaking exclusively to Kenyan Foreign Policy in Nairobi, Mnyika said their efforts are currently pushing for reforms to ensure that there are free and fair elections in Tanzania.
They have begun countrywide tours and rallies to ensure that the government sends bills for reforms in the next parliament session.
The Chadema official was in Nairobi for a Pan African Opposition Solidarity Network meeting attended by opposition figures from other east African countries. They were Martha Karua (Kenya), Kizza Besigye (Uganda), Yassin Fall (Senegal), Agathon Rwassa (Burundi), and Dorothy Semu of Tanzania’s ACT- Wazalendo Party.
Chadema has warned that they may be forced to organize countrywide protests should the state fail to send pro-reforms bills to parliament in the next session.
“If the government fails to initiate electoral reforms, then we may be forced to organise countrywide protests. This decision will however be decided by our top party organs,” said Mnyika.
Chadema luminaries have been subjected to arrests and detentions by the state. Their party leader Tundu Lissu has been holding political rallies across the country since returning from exile, criticising President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s administration for its human rights record and its handling of a controversial ports management deal.
He returned from exile after Hassan lifted a six-year ban on political rallies. He had been in Belgium since he fled in 2020 after losing the presidential election to John Magufuli.
In June 2016, the former Tanzanian president, now deceased prohibited elected officials from holding rallies outside their constituencies.
Magufuli argued that election season was over and rallies were a waste of time and a distraction from development.
This soon became a blanket ban for political gatherings as the police turned down opposition requests to organise rallies.
In some cases, even internal party meetings were disrupted with leaders and their followers harassed and arrested.
Magufuli’s successor, has made moves to reconcile with the opposition, including lifting the ban.
But she is also seen as one who is maintaining the status quo through implementing some of the draconian policies of her predecessor – including a seven-month imprisonment of Chadema leader Freeman Mbowe on charges of “terrorism financing”.
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