Dar es Salaam. CHADEMA national chairperson Freeman Mbowe acknowledged on Saturday that the opposition party’s decision to engage the government in finding a reconciliation between the two has created some fissures within the party, with some factions accusing him of being compromised and bribed.
In a one-hour speech during a rally at Furahisha grounds in Mwanza on Saturday, Mr Mbowe reiterated his defences on why CHADEMA’s decision to engage the government and the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) is the right move, saying it builds the foundation for a “cohesive and united” Tanzania.
During the rally organised to mark the 30th anniversary of CHADEMA, Mr Mbowe revealed that not all people within the centre-right political party have been pleased by the party’s decision, accusing them of leading a campaign aimed at discrediting him as a leader.
“If there is anything that has hurt me so much during the 30 years of service to CHADEMA then is the decision by some people to accuse me of being compromised and of betrayal,” Mr Mbowe said in his speech. “I’ve been ignoring these claims for there are important issues to address but they are claims that hurt me so much.”
CHADEMA has been engaging the government and CCM since when the authorities decided to drop their terrorism and money laundering charges against Mr Mbowe and the party’s decision to boycott a party registrar-led task force to coordinate stakeholders’ opinions on the best way to improve multi-party democracy in the country.
A series of meetings between senior party leaders from both CHADEMA and CCM have been taking place since then, kicked off by the one that involved Mr Mbowe and President Samia Suluhu Hassan on the day the former was released from remand prison on March 4, 2022.
The dialogue between CHADEMA and CCM as well as the recommendations by the task force culminated in the lifting of a six-year ban on political rallies announced by President Samia Suluhu Hassan on January 3, 2023, during a meeting with leaders of nineteen political parties with permanent registration at State House, Dar es Salaam.
But it appears that not all senior CHADEMA leaders are happy that their party is pursuing that course, going as far as accusing Mr Mbowe of being a “sell-out,” charges that the opposition leader spent a great part of his speech dismissing.
“CHADEMA members, some of them senior leaders, say: ‘Mbowe is doing things in secret. Chairperson Mbowe is at the State House every day. These CCM people cannot be trusted. Mr Mbowe is compromised,’” Mr Mbowe said. “I want to assure you that that is not the case.”
In its engagement with CCM and the government, CHADEMA has avoided transparency and has decided to pursue the dialogue secretly, something that Mr Mbowe said is part of the agreement with the party’s partners in the ongoing conversation.
However, there have been criticisms from some observers of the country’s affairs on the approach through which CHADEMA is pursuing the dialogue and Mr Mbowe revealed on Saturday that even some within the party do not agree with it.
Mr Mbowe thinks that he is not being treated fairly by his critics who “insult” him without considering the role he has played in building CHADEMA for the 30 years he has been in service to the party.
“CHADEMA is accusing me of being compromised, that I’m no longer interested in constitutional reforms,” Mr Mbowe said during the speech. “Do you know how many billions [shillings] have I lost for being a CHADEMA member? You entertain childish propaganda that I’ve been compromised.”
Mr Mbowe assured his followers that there is no hidden agenda in the conversation that CHADEMA is having with CCM, congratulating President Samia for opening doors for dialogue, saying that that is what the country is needing now the most.
“[President Samia] took my recommendation I offered her on behalf of all CHADEMA members and some still want me to insult her?” Mbowe wondered. “I’ll never do such a thing.”
Speaking before he invited Mr Mbowe to the podium, CHADEMA secretary-general John Mnyika said that the main agenda that the party is going to spread in the public rallies it has launched is going to be the demand for the New Constitution and an independent electoral commission.
“President Samia said that she is willing to revive the constitution-writing process,” said Mr Mnyika. “We will know if she means it if the government sends in the coming parliamentary session a bill to finalise the process to write the New Constitution before the general election of 2025.”