TANZANIA: Opposition unite to arrest ‘backsliding of democracy’

A coalition of opposition parties in Tanzania say the country is in a state of democratic backsliding reiterating accusations of authoritarianism on the part of the John Pombe Magufuli-led government.

The parties issued a press release after a three-day meeting stating that they were going to form a joint committee to fight against unconstitutional acts and declarations by government.

“We recognize that Tanzania is facing backsliding of democracy, with all signs pointing to institutionalization of an authoritarian regime that ignores political, social and economic rights of our people.”

The coalition listed instances pointing to highhanded government actions including: the annulment of 2015 polls in Zanzibar, the ban of live parliamentary proceedings and of opposition protests, arbitrary arrests of politicians and persons in the media etc.

They also slammed repressive laws including the Bill for Political Parties (Ammendment) Act, stating: “We recognize that, despite constitutional protections of multiparty system, the state is currently waging war against opposition political parties.

“We pronounce that 2019 is a year of reclaiming our democracy and taking back our powers and rights enshrined within the constitution …. We will hold public rallies in all corners of the United Republic of Tanzania.”

The announcement of rallies means parties are ready to defy an official government ban which has often led to threats of clampdown by the police. “If the government is threatened by us exercising our constitutional rights, we dare them to take us to court,” the statement added.

The communique was signed by leaders of six parties: CUFNCCR Maguezi, NLDCHADEMACHAUMMA and ACT Wazalendo. The statement said their meeting had the blessings of two main leaders unable to attend.

“Keenly missed during the discussions have been our two colleagues, the Leader of Official Opposition, Hon. Freeman Mbowe and the Chief Whip of the Opposition in the Union Parliament, Hon Tundu Lissu, one of whom is languishing in prison and the other recovering from an assassination attempt. Both of them gave their blessings to this meeting,” the statement read.

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