Dar es Salaam. A judge in Mbeya on Tuesday freed seven members of the opposition CHADEMA party who spent almost eighteen months in remand prison after being charged with murder immediately after the 2020 General Election.
Judge J. M. Karayemahaya of the High Court of Tanzania in Mbeya had to order the release of the cadres after prosecutors said they no longer have an interest in pursuing the case.
Those freed on Tuesday are Hitla Haonga, Ijumilege Mwanjia, Yusuph Aliemin, Peter Cherehani, Elia Schone, Daud Mwajiunga and Charles Semkonda.
The seven were charged at different times with one group charged with murder during the announcement of election results in late October 2022. This group included Haonga and Aliemin.
The rest of the group was charged during the process to return nomination forms before the October 2020 elections.
Speaking on behalf of his fellow former inmates immediately after being freed, Haonga thanked fellow CHADEMA members for what they did to him and other former incarcerated party members while they were in prison.
“Your frequent visits to prisons honoured us so much,” Haonga said before CHADEMA secretary-general John Mnyika who was there to receive them. “You took care of our families. Please let’s always do this to each other because these treatments [by the government] shall never end.”
Hundreds of opposition party members were arrested and charged with various cases immediately after the October 2020 election that opposition parties decried to be “stolen.”
President John Magufuli, who died on March 17, 2021, was declared the winner in the election that a number of independent electoral observers deemed to be unfree and unfair.