Dar es Salaam. President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Tuesday lifted a ban on political rallies, doing away with the controversial policy that has put the government and opposition parties in Tanzania at loggerheads for quite some time now.
The Head of State made the decision during the meeting with nineteen opposition parties with permanent registration at the State House in Dar es Salaam.
Samia said she was moved to take the decision by the spirit of political reconciliation shown by all actors in Tanzania across the political aisle.
“Conducting political rallies is the right of political parties,” President Samia said.
“During the ongoing reconciliation talks, this issue emerged as the most important issue to political parties.
Therefore, I’m here before you today, to lift the ban that was previously imposed on political rallies.”
Imposed since June 2016 by the previous administration under the late President John Magufuli, the ban has been heavily criticised by opposition politicians as well as defenders of democracy and human rights in Tanzania and beyond.
It has been a thorn in the side of the opposition who in the past seven years have been unable to organise rallies, essential to bolster support for their political parties, thanks to the ban.
Many of those who criticised the ban described it as both illegal and unconstitutional and pressure was mounting on President Samia to lift it as it did not reflect well on her reconciliation talks.
Monday’s move earned President Samia many plaudits, including from politicians as well as human rights activists.
The national coordinator of Tanzania Human Rights Defenders’ Coalition Onesmo Olengurumwa, for instance, described President Samia as a “defender of the Constitution,” in a Twitter post.
President Samia made the decision based on the proposals she received in the two ongoing processes seeking political reconciliation, one led by her task force and the other which involves CHADEMA and the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM).
Apart from the lifting of the ban on political rallies, other key proposals include the amendments of key electoral laws and regulations to create room for freer and fairer elections.
The other proposal concerns the revival of the stalled constitution-writing process.
In her speech on Tuesday, President Samia said the other two proposals will be implemented in due time.
Lukelo Francis is The Chanzo Journalist based in Dar es Salaam. He can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org.