Opposition doubt Samia’s vow on political space

Tuesday April 27 2021
Samia Suluhu.

Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu gave her first State of the Union address in Parliament. PHOTO | AFP


Opposition leaders in Tanzania are doubtful about President Samia Suluhu’s pledge to find a mutually acceptable way forward on politics in the country.

In a tweet on Thursday night, Freeman Mbowe, the chairman of the main opposition party Chadema, described President Samia’s promise during her State of the Union address in Parliament earlier in the day as an "opportunity missed."

"The president's speech was turned into a (ruling party) CCM reconciliatory showbiz in the illicit Bunge hanging in the shadow of JPM. This new chapter (of national leadership) calls for public admission and repentance for crimes committed or else meeting the opposition will signify nothing but an art of deception," Mr Mbowe tweeted.

In the wake of President Suluhu's announcement, Mbowe's fellow opposition party leaders Zitto Kabwe (ACT Wazalendo) and James Mbatia (NCCCR-Mageuzi), former presidential candidate Tundu Lissu (Chadema), and at least one CCM legislator in Nape Nnauye were set to hold a public Zoom meeting on Friday night (beginning 8pm) under the theme “The Right of Political Parties to Hold Political Rallies and Conduct Political Activities in the post-Magufuli period.”

After being given progressively short thrift during the five years of former president John Pombe Magufuli’s administration, Tanzania's opposition was consigned to an even bleaker future following last October's general election.

The polls resulted in a resounding victory for the ruling CCM party in both presidential and parliamentary seats.


According to the results announced by the National Electoral Commission, former president Magufuli garnered a whopping 84 per cent of the votes to win re-election to a second term in office while CCM candidates scooped all but two of the 264 constituency seats on offer.

Casualties of the polls include Mr Mbowe, Mr Kabwe and Mr Mbatia who all lost their parliamentary seats to CCM-backed newcomers in their respective home constituencies.

Former president Magufuli died in March, just five months into his new term, and his vice-president Samia was elevated to the presidency as per the country's Constitution.

Last week on Thursday President Suluhu told parliament: "I am planning to meet with political leaders in Tanzania so that we can together chart a path for running political activities that are of benefit to the nation as a whole."

The pledge was part of a close to two-hour address where President Samia’s also spoke of the importance of re-embracing democratic governance principles and building new bridges of co-operation with both the private sector and the wider international community.