Dar es Salaam. It seems like some CHADEMA members were not happy with the decision by their national chairperson Freeman Mbowe to go and meet with President Samia Suluhu Hassan at the State House on the evening of his release from jail.
Mbowe, who was released from jail on March 4, 2022, after authorities withdrew the terrorism and economic sabotage case that faced him and three other co-defendants, was the guest speaker at Tuesday’s function to commemorate the International Women’s Day organised by CHADEMA Women Wing BAWACHA.
But Mr Mbowe spent a significant part of his speech defending his decision to hold talks with President Samia while assuring his fellow party members that that does not mean he is about to urge them to abandon the fight for political reforms in Tanzania, like the movement to demand the New Constitution.
“The president [of Tanzania] is the one who holds the key to almost all problems that cause long-lasting and deep sorrow in our nation,” explained Mr Mbowe in his first public address since he became a free man. “Truth, however bitter, is an important tool that will help us build the future that we want.”
Mr Mbowe was brought before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court for the first time on July 26, 2021, before his case was forwarded to the High Court of Tanzania (Corruption and Economic Crimes Division).
Together with Halfan Hassan, Adam Kasekwa and Mohamed Lingwenya, he was accused of taking part in conspiracies to blow up fueling stations and other public gatherings as well as funding terrorist acts before his case was transferred to the High Court, charges that he has denied.
In his address on Tuesday, Mr Mbowe said that he is carrying a huge debt of gratitude to all people who in one way or another fought to secure his release from prison, which include people from political parties, activists as well as the international community.
“I’m going to pay back this debt by standing firm as a credible leader in fighting for the rights of every Tanzanian within our party [CHADEMA] but also within our communities,” promised the former Hai MP (CHADEMA). “[The release from jail] has not only returned our freedom but it has also put smiles on the faces of our families once again.”
Mr Mbowe told his fellow party members that it was important for CHADEMA as the leading opposition party in Tanzania to base its politics on influencing and convincing instead of resorting to force, ruling out the possibility of CHADEMA becoming a party of revenge.
He made it clear that for any political dialogue to produce its intended results it must be grounded on an unshakable willingness to see the sought-after changes happen and that he was glad President Samia expressed willingness to him and that he was optimistic that the needed changes might come sooner to Tanzania than earlier thought.
“Reconciliation is a process; it is not a one-day event,” Mr Mbowe pleaded with his fellow party members. “People should dialogue. Always. I cannot personally decline an opportunity for dialogue. It is through these moments that we can present our arguments for the Tanzania we want: a democratic Tanzania based on fairness and justice.”
Mbowe said that CHADEMA’s Central Committee will sit in the coming few days to deliberate on ways through which the party can follow up on what Mr Mbowe and President Samia has agreed on, saying he expects more actions on the part of the Head of State than mere rhetoric.