Dar es Salaam. The chairperson with the Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD) Mr Zitto Kabwe said here today that he considers the release of CHADEMA national chairperson Freeman Mbowe from jail to be one of the key milestones that the non-partisan democracy think-tank registered under the chairmanship of opposition ACT-Wazalendo.
Kabwe, who doubles as the leader of ACT-Wazalendo, gave the assessment during a press briefing he gave on Friday on the upcoming Justice, Peace and Reconciliation conference that is expected to take place between March 30 and 31, 2022, in Dodoma under the auspices of TCD. President Samia Suluhu Hassan is expected to grace the meeting.
Founded in 2005 by political parties with representation in the parliament, TCD serves as a platform to strengthen a culture of multiparty democracy in Tanzania through dialogue, consultation, strategizing and implementing an agenda for democratic development.
TCD’s current members are the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), CHADEMA, the Civic United Front (CUF), NCCR Mageuzi, and ACT- Wazalendo.
“There are parties that complained that their leaders are behind bars; that their leaders are not free,” said Zitto, referring to CHADEMA with respect to Mr Mbowe. “Now, these leaders have been released. What more could TCD have done?”
On Friday, Public Prosecutions Director (DPP) Silvester Mwakitalu withdrew his terrorism and economic sabotage case against Mr Mbowe and his three other co-defendants, saying he no longer has an interest to pursue the case, a decision Zitto said “comforted” him.
Naming another milestone registered in Tanzania thanks to TCD lobbying, Zitto said President Samia has been meeting with leaders of political parties in the country, collectively and on an individual basis, something he said is essential if multiparty democracy is to thrive.
These include the moment she participated in a conference to discuss the status of multiparty democracy in Tanzania held in Dodoma between December 15 and December 17, 2021. President Samia also met CHADEMA deputy national chairperson Mr Tundu Lissu in Belgium on February 16, 2022.
“Our main goal is to create a conducive environment for doing politics in Tanzania,” Zitto told reporters. “That’s why you see that even at this conference [of March 30 and 31, 2022] is not a platform for people to go and talk. We want as the conference ends bills are taken to the parliament and made into laws.”
Two pieces of legislation are of concern and the upcoming Dodoma conference is expected to give recommendations on how to improve them: the National Elections Act and the Political Parties Act.
Zitto said that already two bills have been prepared with assistance from the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) and if successfully turned into laws the bills will go a long way in ensuring free and fair elections in Tanzania.
“I believe that through TCD and other important stakeholders Tanzania will return to becoming a nation of optimism and that takes great developmental strides without affecting the political and civil liberties of its people,” Zitto said.
Lukelo Francis is a Dar es Salaam-based The Chanzo’s correspondent. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.