Dar es Salaam. CHADEMA Secretary-General John Mnyinka on Monday urged for calmness among the opposition party’s members and followers who have had varied reactions towards the centre-right party’s decision to hold a consultative meeting with President Samia Suluhu Hassan last week.
Speaking during a press conference at the party’s headquarters, Mr Mnyika said “reconciliation is not an event, but a process,” adding that the May 20 meeting is one in a series of meetings that CHADEMA will undertake with the Head of State in an attempt to reconcile the party and the government, two parties that have been at loggerheads over a number of issues.
“My request to CHADEMA members and Tanzanians is for them to be calm and patient during these preliminary steps,” Mr Mnyika said. “This is because reconciliation is not a single-day event. It is something that needs to be worked on step by step. We will continue to update the public on every step of this process.”
Last week, a team of CHADEMA senior leaders, led by the party’s national chairperson Freeman Mbowe, met and held talks with a delegation from the government and the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), which was led by President Samia. The meeting came almost a week since Mr Mbowe spoke about it during CHADEMA’s general assembly on May 12.
Less was publicly known about what exactly transpired at the meeting which was the third by Mr Mbowe since he was released from prison on March 4. This contributed to varied reactions among CHADEMA’s members, with some expressing disappointment with their leaders for the decision.
This feeling was contributed by CHADEMA’s position to boycott the ongoing process aimed at improving multiparty democracy in Tanzania led by the presidential task force, coordinated by the Registrar of Political Parties.
Responding to the question of why he thinks President Samia will take recommendations put forward by CHADEMA and not those put forward by her task force, Mr Mnyika said: “There is something called [giving someone the] benefit of the doubt. [People’s] freedom of expression should be respected.”
Top of the agenda
Two issues topped the agenda at the latest meeting between CHADEMA and President Samia, which took place at the State House in Dodoma. These are the need to revive the stalled constitutional writing process and the need to address the effects that resulted from human rights violations during the past six years.
Mr Mnyika said that CHADEMA submitted a proposal on how Tanzania can get out of the current deadlock on constitution writing but fell short of sharing the proposal with the public.
On the second issue, however, Mr Mnyika outlined ten issues that CHADEMA thinks are essential if the effects resulting from serious human rights violations in the past six years are to be addressed.
These include the formation of a truth and reconciliation commission; addressing the effects that resulted in the mismanagement of the 2019 local government elections and 2020 general elections; ensuring political parties’ freedom to conduct their activities; dropping all politically motivated prosecutions and the freeing of political prisoners; and getting rid of all oppressive laws in Tanzania.
Others include addressing the issue that involves people who were attacked, disappeared or murdered because of their political activities; addressing the issue of the opposition camp in parliament; security assurance of CHADEMA leaders living in exile; and expelling from the parliament of former 19 CHADEMA members who serve as Special Seat MPs.
“The decision to meet with President Samia has all blessings from the party’s decision-making organs, [including the party’s] central committee [and its] general assembly,” Mr Mnyika concluded his address.
“This endorsement nonetheless, we are not against our members expressing their opinions,” he added. “But as leaders, we know that we have to continue with the remaining steps of the discussion. And what we can insist on at this time is patience.”