Dar es Salaam. President John Magufuli has said political leaders in Tanzania were not prohibited from organizing rallies in their respective constituencies.
This comes two years after the president issued a ban on public meetings and demonstrations saying people must concentrate on work and not politics.
During a meeting in Dar es Salaam with religious leaders from all religions on Wednesday January 23rd, President Magufuli said his ban targeted political leaders who intended to cause chaos in constituencies where they don’t belong.
One of the clerics, Reverend Amani Lyimo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) asked the Head of State to allow people to speak freely as a way of promoting democracy.
“Honorable President, people fear to talk nowadays…your subordinates may not be telling you the reality on the ground but the truth is, people are not to free to speak their mind…I would ask you to allow this chance…,’’ said Reverend Lyimo.
The Reverend was among the several contributors who stood up to express challenges faced by Tanzanians, as per the aim of the president’s meeting with the religious leaders.
While responding to their concerns, the president Magufuli emphasized on Reverend Lymo’s request for free speech, saying it was not proper for politicians to organized rallies in places out of their own constituencies.
President Magufuli teased the cleric on the matter, by giving an example where a bishop would move from his church to speak badly of Muslims in a mosque.
“Like the way you (religious leaders) respect each other, we want political parties to do the same, even if they were 50 political parties,” he noted.
“Let me assure all religious leaders that nobody is prohibited to organize legal political gatherings in his or her area of jurisdiction. Luckily enough, police officers are the ones providing permits after being asked.”
Dr Magufuli declined to explain what transpired in Dar es Salaam when police intervened to quell political rallies, saying some issues were in court.
“Therefore, I would like to assure reverend Lyimo (Amani) that nobody has been restricted to carry political rallies in the country,” he said.
“If he/she is an MP for Ubungo, then he/she should anytime hold rallies at his area of jurisdiction, no restriction will be imposed against him because he is the one leading the constituency. His Excellency Kubenea (Saed) should hold rallies because, my belief is, that is right democracy,” he said.
He gave another example of America, where, as he said, “Hillary Clinton is not heard holding political rallies in various parts of the US, but President Donald Trump alone, because this is his time and that he will be assessed for what he has achieved upon expiry of his term in office.”