Tanzanian opposition leader, Tundu Lissu, has declared that he is ready to contest for the presidency in 2020 if his Chadema party gives him the ticket.
Mr Lissu, who has been abroad for two years for treatment after he was shot by unknown people, says that despite the many restrictions by government, such as the ban on public rallies, persecution and arrests, support for opposition is growing and they might just surprise the world if the election was to be free and fair.
Speaking in an interview on Kenya’s KTN television station, the former Singida East MP—whose seat was declared vacant on June 29 due to absentia —said that he has fully recovered but cannot return to Tanzania because his security is not assured.
“I was supposed to die from the shooting or from lack of treatment. The agents responsible are now warning through the Internet that this time they will not miss,” he said.
He is concerned that the opposition is under siege, and that members are being hunted down, arrested, jailed and bought and that the president is using unconstitutional means to finish the opposition
He said the opposition has never said no to dialogue, but the environment does not promote dialogue.
Mr Lissu, said that even during Jakaya Kikwete’s presidency, the opposition operated under difficult circumstances, but the former president occasionally met the opposition for discussions.
“Now, we have a president who announced publicly that by the 2020 elections, there will be no opposition. We believe that the banning of opposition activities, arrests and my shooting are part of that promise,” said Mr Lissu.
On being stripped of his parliamentary seat, he said; “The law says that a seat can be declared vacant if the holder misses three consecutive sittings. The Speaker says I did not officially notify parliament but everybody knows that I was shot 16 times and I was unconscious for one week. How can you notify the speaker in such circumstances?”
Mr Lissu, who was first flown to Nairobi and later to Belgium for further treatment, says that his Chadema Party went to court to contest the declaration and it was rejected but they have appealed again.
“If I keep quiet, it will create a precedent where the Speaker can remove any MP he doesn’t like. This trend cannot be allowed to continue,” he said.
On the recent civic election, Mr Lissu said that Chadema and other opposition parties had prepared to take part but 3,000 candidates, amounting to 96 per cent were disqualified.
“It was difficult to participate in the election with only four per cent of our candidates. We had decided to demonstrate to the world that that was not an election and we have never seen such repression in the history of Tanzania, even during the colonial time,” he said.
He continued; “When a party that has been in power for nearly 60 years is afraid of civic elections, it is an indication of what will happen in 2020 and Tanzania that has been the most peaceful in the region could erupt.”