Songea. Chadema Secretary General Vincent Mashinji (pictured), two MPs and six other party leaders were arrested in Ruvuma yesterday for allegedly organising an unlawful assembly.
The team was ordered to spend 48 hours in custody by police authorities, with Chadema spokesperson Tumaini Makene claiming these were orders from higher authorities which he did not name.
Ruvuma Regional Police Commander Gemini Mushi told The Citizen yesterday that Chadema Special Seats MP Zubeda Sakuru had secured a police permit to conduct an internal party meeting, but it turned into a “demonstration”.
“Their supporters came in droves from different parts of the town. It turned into a demonstration. We only allowed an internal meeting,” he said.
Apart from Dr Mashinji, those arrested yesterday were Ndanda MP Cecil Mwambe, Ms Sakuru, Nyasa Zone publicity secretary Charles Makunguru, Southern Zone publicity secretary Theobald Ngatunga and national security secretary Sanuka Manara.
“We are still interrogating them.. We are still looking for other party leaders who organised the assembly,” he said, warning Ruvuma residents against attending Chadema gatherings.
Meanwhile, there was heavy police presence yesterday in Nyamagana District, Mwanza, where the Chadema youth wing held its meeting.
Chadema’s Lake Zone election organisation officer, Mr Elikana Paschali, told The Citizen that heavily armed police officers surrounded Igoma Street where the meeting was taking place and attempted to disrupt the meeting.
“After showing them a permit that the Regional Police Commander has allowed us to hold the meeting, we were allowed to proceed. But they remained around,’’ he said.
Mwanza Regional Police Commander Ahmed Msangi did not immediately comment on the matter because he was busy in a meeting. The one-day meeting was aimed at discussing repression and general violation of democratic principles . Chadema Deputy Secretary General (Zanzibar) Salum Mwalimu officiated at the event.
Opposition parties have criticised President John Magufuli for suppressing freedom of expression and curbing political activity.
Additional reporting by Ngollo John in Mwanza