Dar es Salaam. CHADEMA deputy chairperson (Tanzania Mainland) Mr Tundu Lissu pulled no punches in his New Year’s greetings on Friday, going against the sixth-phase government that he accused of being unwilling to right the past wrongs and chart a new course for the Tanzanian nation.
Mr Lissu, who addressed the nation virtually from Belgium where he is based, gave a seven-point New Year message, urging CHADEMA members and Tanzanians in general to make good use of the coming 365 days of 2022.
The main issues that preoccupied the former Singida East lawmaker (CHADEMA) in his address included a call to President Samia Suluhu Hassan to think if she truly wants to proceed with the “white elephant” projects that she inherited from her predecessor John Magufuli.
According to Mr Lissu, Tanzanians are economically worst off at the moment, something he attributed to the government’s determination to implement a number of strategic projects using loans, with the Julius Nyerere Hydropower Station, a hydroelectric dam under construction across the Rufiji River in eastern Tanzania, being one of them.
“President Samia must gather political courage and look at these projects and see if proceeding with them under the current arrangement will produce any social and economic benefits [to Tanzanians],” said Mr Lissu. “If [Samia] satisfies herself that these projects cannot be implemented without bankrupting our country, as evidence suggests, then she should abandon them.”
Mr Lissu, who lost to Magufuli of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) during the controversial 2020 presidential elections, also spoke on the terrorism and money laundering case that CHADEMA national chairperson Mr Freeman Mbowe and his three bodyguards are facing.
In his address, Mr Lissu reiterated the party’s stance of calling the charges against Mr Mbowe “trumped-up” ones, referring to him and his co-accused as “political prisoners,” calling for their “unconditional release from prisons.”
Speaking on the recently-concluded meeting called by the Registrar of Political Parties Judge (Retired) Francis Mutungi to discuss the state of multiparty democracy in Tanzania, Mr Lissu, who once served as the President of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS), shared his pessimism of the meeting resolutions, saying that nothing of substance can be expected to come from the meeting that took place in the capital Dodoma between December 15 and December 17, 2021.
Mr Lissu, whose party CHADEMA and another opposition party NCCR-Mageuzi boycotted the meeting, seemed to be troubled by the people who organised the meeting as well as those appointed by Mr Mutungi to be in a task force that will follow up what was discussed during the meeting.
According to him, almost all the faces behind the meeting lack the legitimacy of overseeing that process. He added: “[CHADEMA boycotted the meeting] because there were, and still are, no conducive environment [in the country] that would allow us to participate in such a meeting.”
He mentioned the detention of Mr Mbowe and a ban on political rallies as some of the factors that contributed to making the environment unfriendly.
After criticising the Political Parties Council, to whom the Mutungi-formed task force will submit its recommendations on what transpired at the Dodoma meeting, accusing it of being controlled by the ruling CCM, Mr Lissu presented his party’s stance on any activity that the Council will be organizing, saying:
“CHADEMA will not take part in any Political Parties Council-organised activity whose clear goal is to kill and bury Tanzanians’ dreams and hopes of obtaining the New Constitution.”
Speaking on the issue of the New Constitution, that President Samia has asked to be given more time to “fix the economy first” before she can embark on reviving the stalled constitution-making process, Mr Lissu said that Tanzania can no longer rely on the 1977 constitution to solve its administrative and political problems.
Quoting a statement by former President Jakaya Kikwete, when he was initiating the constitution-making process on December 31, 2011, Mr Lissu said:
“There are many changes that have taken place in various spheres of our country and its people in these past fifty years of independence. On that basis, it is important to have a constitution that goes hand in hand with the changes and interests of the present situation. A constitution that will take our nation to another fifty years with safety, peace, unity and more progress.”
Mr Lissu, who survived an assassination attempt on September 7, 2017, used the occasion to also express his dismay at what he termed as the failure on the part of the Samia Administration to ensure his and other Tanzanians who sought refuge in other parts of the world protection of their lives once they return to Tanzania.
“The government of President Samia never took any step to either ensure us of our protection and freedom when we return to Tanzania or investigate the assassination attempt against me,” cried Mr Lissu.
This fact notwithstanding, Mr Lissu assured his fellow cadres in CHADEMA and Tanzanians in general that the party is carrying out preparation to ensure he and former Arusha Urban MP (CHADEMA) Godbless Lema, who sought asylum in Canada, return to Tanzania.
Mr Lissu said that the two will be back in Tanzania between March and April 2022, without giving any specific date.