Dar es Salaam. Opposition party ACT-Wazalendo held its first political rally here on Sunday with the high cost of living crisis dominating its messaging as the left-leaning political party strategizes to win more popular support.
Sunday’s rally in Mbagala was preceded by the launch on Saturday of the party’s so-called ‘Brand Promise’ to Tanzanians at the Serena Hotel which saw the party coming up with another slogan – Taifa la Wote, Maslahi ya Wote, which essentially means a people nation for the benefit of all.
Speaking during the rally, ACT-Wazalendo party Zitto Kabwe said any reforms in the country right now will be useless if the government will not address “the elephant in the room,” which is the high cost of living.
Mr Kabwe dismissed the defences that the government has been giving every time the debate on the high cost of living comes up – ongoing war in Ukraine and COVID-19 – saying that though the government is not responsible for the two there are still interventions the government can make to address the crisis.
“One of these interventions is for the [National Food Reserve Agency] NFRA to release the food available in its stock something that will reduce the cost of some basic commodities like maize in the market,” Mr Kabwe told the rallygoers.
“It is also important that NFRA goes to those areas where farmers have started to harvest their produces and buy them so that Tanzania can be a good place to address a hunger crisis if it happens,” he added.
Sunday’s political rally by ACT-Wazalendo follows a decision taken by President Samia Suluhu Hassan on January 3, 2023, to lift a ban previously imposed on opposition parties to hold political rallies, a ban that existed for almost six years.
Samia acted on the recommendations by a task force she formed to coordinate stakeholders’ opinions on the best way to organise multiparty democracy in Tanzania which recommended the ban be lifted.
Already, other political parties like the Civic United Front (CUF) and CHADEMA have organised a number of political rallies across the country as they are struggling to compensate for the “lost” six years in terms of party building and mobilization.
While announcing her decision to lift the ban on political rallies, President Samia promised that other recommendations put forward by the task force, chaired by Prof Rwekiza Mukandala, including amendments to electoral laws and revival of the stalled constitution-writing process, would follow.
However, the Head of State did not give a specific timetable of when exactly would the recommendations be implemented, something that ACT-Wazalendo national chairperson Juma Duni Haji took issue with in his speech during the rally.
“We are therefore calling on President Samia to release this timetable,” Mr Haji said. “This timetable should be released before November 2023 because beyond that there are not going to be any legal reforms. We would have been tricked. There will no longer be enough time to implement the reforms.”
Speaking during the rally, ACT-Wazalendo deputy chairperson (Zanzibar), who doubles as First Vice President of Zanzibar, Othman Masoud Othman reiterated the party’s defences to join the Government of National Unity (GNU), saying the move was not motivated by selfishness.
“We were not motivated by our personal interests but those of the country,” Othman said during the rally. “Zanzibar is as it is now, politically and economically, thanks to our decision to join the GNU.”
After Dar es Salaam, ACT-Wazalendo is planning to do rallies in Unguja and Pemba before it comes back to Tanzania Mainland with a planned rally in Tanga, Pwani, Kigoma and other areas.