Chadema youth arrested despite dialogue

Saturday May 28 2022
Chadema leader Freeman Mbowe and Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Chadema leader Freeman Mbowe and Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Hardly a week after a meeting between Tanzania’s ruling party Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and opposition Chadema, about 20 members of the latter’s youth wing were arrested for what the police called illegal assembly.

Hours later they were released unconditionally from Babati central police station in Manyara.

"What we see is some people, with their own interests in mind, trying to use senior members of the police force to disrupt political reconciliation efforts that have been set into motion by President Samia Suluhu, our chairman Freeman Mbowe and other stakeholders within the country," Chadema protocol and communications chief John Mrema said in a statement.

Chadema, which is spearheading calls for a new constitution before the 2025 General Election, repeated its position during the May 21 talks with the CCM led by President Samia at State House in Dodoma. Both parties termed the discussion as the beginning of a new political dialogue initiative.

According to Chadema Secretary-General John Mnyika, the party tabled two issues: Reviving the constitutional change process, which stalled in 2014, and restoring constitutional and civil rights that were threatened under the previous administration.



Mr Mnyika said the team submitted proposals on how to fast-track the Katiba Mpya process and other key democratic reforms such as reinstating political party activism without undue interference, preventing a recurrence of politically-motivated court cases, and abolishing oppressive laws.

They also pressed for security guarantees for political exiles so that they can come home. Proper structures and instruments, including a credible Truth and Reconciliation Commission to be set up to expedite the mending process, and the adoption of an acceptable timeline for completion of all processes were also tabled.

However, Chadema declined an invitation from a task force set up to co-ordinate the constitutional and democratic reforms process.

"Our position on the task force has not changed. We believe this direct dialogue process that we have just begun is the best way to heal all the wounds," Mr Mnyika said.

The 25-member task force, formed last December by the Registrar of Political Parties, formally proposed that the constitution process should be postponed until after the 2025 election and the intervening period used to amend electoral and political participation laws. ACT-Wazalendo, which gave its proposal to the task force, wants the Katiba Mpya process restarted based on a previous draft prepared by another committee led by former prime minister Joseph Warioba.

According to ACT-Wazalendo Public Relations Secretary Salum Bimani, the process should begin with amendments to the current constitution to level the field for all political parties come the 2025 election.

“The amendments should cover regulations governing both the 2024 local government (civic) elections and the 2025 presidential and parliamentary elections," Mr Bimani said. "Then if the full Katiba Mpya process is not completed by August 2024, it can be paused and resumed immediately after the two elections are held," he added.

Among other things, the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) headed by Judge Warioba proposed the introduction of an administrative structure of three governments for Tanzania Mainland, Zanzibar and the Union respectively whereas the final version of the second draft by another Constitutional Assembly (CA) departed significantly from the Warioba draft by retaining the current two-government structure (Union and Zanzibar).

According to Mr Bimani, the CA draft would not be accepted in Zanzibar because "it portrays Zanzibar to be similar to a provisional or municipal government” under the Union structure.

ACT Wazalendo also said in its views that fresh consensus was needed on various other matters outlined in the current constitution, including presidential powers and separation of powers between the three pillars of state: Executive, Legislative and Judiciary, along with election systems.