Dar es Salaam. The Police Force said yesterday that it had not received a formal request from any group for countrywide demonstrations, but added that it was not taking anything for granted.
The statement came after government officials, on different occasions, issued threats against individuals planning to demonstrate on April 26.
The police spokesperson, Mr Barnabas Mwakalukwa, said yesterday that despite the fact that there was no request for a permit to demonstrate, police had been tipped off that there was a group of people who were organising countrywide demonstrations.
He said: “We know that these are mere rumours, which have gone viral on various social media platforms.”
Nonetheless, Mr Mwakalukwa warned that the Police Force was not taking the reports for granted, stressing that they would take action against those trying to disrupt the country’s peace.
Reports of countrywide demonstrations have gone viral, but nobody knows who is behind the campaign.
Without mentioning the names of organisers, high ranking government officials, including Home Affairs minister Mwigulu Nchemba and Inspector General of Police Simon Sirro, have in the last few days warned the public not to take part in the publicised demonstrations.
Local media and other online platforms have been pointing at US—based Tanzanian social media activist, Ms Mange Kimambi, who has called for nationwide anti-government demonstrations to protest what she terms as “suppression of political freedom and human rights abuses”.
Ms Kimambi, who has a large youth following on social media, is rallying Tanzanians via Telegram chat groups to take to the streets after previous demonstrations called by the main opposition party, Chadema, in 2016 were called off.
Mr Mwakalukwa said security organs were on high alert and pleaded with the public not to be involved in the unlawful demonstrations.
“We cannot control what people say on social media, but we can stop them from implementing their ill-intentions,” he told The Citizen in a telephone interview.
“Our task is to inform the public on everything that happens or threatens people’s security and that’s why even top government officials have been talking about it,” he noted.
Last Friday, President John Magufuli warned that he would not tolerate anyone who would take to the streets because his government was preaching development and not otherwise.
He vowed not to let his economic reforms be derailed by demonstrations.
“Some people have failed to engage in meaningful politics; they would like to see people demonstrating daily..let them demonstrate and they will know who I am,” he said during the launch of a CRDB Bank branch in his home town of Chato in Geita Region. “We want to build a strong economy for all Tanzanians, and we are on the right track. Let us be patient...Tanzania will become prosperous,” said the President.
The IGP has since said that security forces were on alert against “street protests being organised via social media”.