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Now Police Call for Law Regulating Internal Party Meetings

Police says current laws governing party operations in Tanzania are silent on the regulation of internal party meetings, a vacuum that needs to be filled.

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Dar es Salaam. Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Simon Sirro complained today, September 23, 2021, that Tanzania lacks a law regulating internal party meetings; something he said has been causing endless misunderstanding between the law enforcement agency and political parties, especially those on the opposition side of the political spectrum.

Sirro made the complaints on the sidelines of the meeting that Registrar of Political Parties Mr Francis Mutungi organised in the capital Dodoma with members of the Police Force. The meeting comes almost two weeks since Mr Mutungi promised to hold a joint meeting with the police and political parties to address long standing complaints concerning police interference in political activities. 

“The main problem is in the organization of internal meetings and actually we have seen in the laws, [that is] the Police Force and Auxiliary Services Act and the Political Parties Act, [they] are not clear on the regulation of internal party meetings,” Mr Sirro told reporters shortly after the meeting.

Mr Sirro accused political parties of exploiting the loophole by organizing a rally internally instead of organizing an internal party meeting. You need a police permit to organize a rally in Tanzania but not so when holding an internal meeting, according to the country’s laws. President Samia Suluhu Hassan has banned all political rallies in the country, saying she needs some time to “fix the economy.”

“We have, therefore, advised our brother Registrar [Mutungi] to discuss this matter politically with his fellow politicians and see what [can be done] so that those of us who enforce the laws can be directed properly,” IGP Sirro said before adding, “but for both the political rallies and the internal meetings what police pay attention to is security.”

Mr Mutungi told journalists that today’s meeting is part of the process leading to the general consultative meeting with police and political parties that is expected to take place on October 21, 2021. In response to the issues raised by the Police around the laws, Mr Mutungi advised the Police Force to submit their contribution alongside other stakeholders as the amendment process is ongoing.

“I did not like the idea of organizing a general meeting with stakeholders before meeting each and every one of them separately first,” Mr Mutungi said. “I’m glad that police offered me excellent cooperation. They spoke many things that some of which were eye-opening to me. [Thanks to the meeting], I’ve learned that it is very important to keep my communications lines [with Tanzania’s political stakeholders] always open.”

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