Tanzania’s main opposition party, Chadema, Tuesday said it would take court action following statements made by President Samia Suluhu Hassan with regards to party chairman Freeman Mbowe.
In an interview with the BBC Monday, President Samia said that investigations into the allegations against Mbowe began in September last year and the charges of terrorism and economic sabotage brought against the opposition leader were not politically motivated.
President Samia said the investigations had not been completed when the case started.
“We went into the general election and finished. Now that the police have completed the investigations they need to proceed with their work,” Samia said, adding that Mr Mbowe was not in the country for most of the time after the elections, as he was in Nairobi, Kenya.
“But, immediately after he returned, he called for constitutional protests. It may have been a calculated move for his party knowing fully that with his calls for the new constitution, and when he got arrested, it would be thought that his arrest was due to the constitution matter.”
Mbowe was indicted along with others on charges of terrorism and economic sabotage, but Chadema has remained adamant that he is not a terrorist and has been calling for his unconditional release.
On Tuesday, Chadema President Samia’s statements on the charges and investigation could interfere with the matter that is pending in court.
Chadema secretary general John Mnyika told journalists in Dar es Salaam that the party had instructed its lawyers to take appropriate action on the statements.
“On August 13, 2021 when the case of economic sabotage against Mr Mbowe will be read again in court, the public will learn the legal action that will be taken following the statements made by the President,” he said.
Dr Fumbuka Mwakilasa, a political analyst based in Dar es Salaam, said politicians and leaders should refrain from commenting on ongoing court cases so as not to provoke resentment to the parties involved in the case.
“This is a very serious case involving a major opposition leader in the country, anyone commenting on the case must be very careful not to be quoted as giving a court order. This is what Chadema has seen in the President’s statement,” he told The Citizen on the phone.
Dr Mwakilasa said it was possible that the President may have been giving a fair comment on what she knew about the case based on the interviewer’s question, while Chadema was on the lookout for anything that can help them save their chairman.
“They were waiting for the President’s statement regarding their chairman very eagerly and that is why when the President responded to what she knew about the matter, they found something to lean on,” he said.
Dr Mwakilasa added that in the current context of the case, politicians and national leaders should refrain from making public statements that might suggest they are interfering with court decisions. “Let the court decide the case, because it is already in its realm,” he said.