Dar es Salaam. Chadema national chairman Freeman Mbowe has spoken of what he says are the reasons why former Prime Minister quit the opposition to rejoin the ruling party, CCM.
Mr Mbowe said Lowassa who was Chadema’s presidential candidate in the 2015 General Election did not know the extent of suffering party members were being subjected to by the government.
He said in a video recording made available through the party’s online TV that the former PM could not live with the consequences of constant threats from the state.
“Upheavals directed at him for two years, including frequent interrogations by police and loss of business weakened and silenced him,” he said of the seasoned politician who quit CCM after he was locked out of the race for the ruling party’s ticket for the presidency.
Lowassa run as a joint opposition candidate and put up a spirited campaign but lost to President John Magufuli. He got 43 per cent of the votes against Magufuli’s 58 per cent, recording the highest votes of any opposition candidates with more than six million votes.
The former PM in early March returned to CCM and has since kept a studious silence. He then only said he had “returned home” and wished his former colleagues in the opposition well. He said he would rally behind the good work being done by President Magufuli. He had been escorted back by his longtime political and business associate Mr Rostam Aziz, himself a returnee from self-imposed political exile since 2011.
Addressing party officials at a closed door meeting in Singida region Saturday, Mr Mbowe said it was fear that overwhelmed Mr Lowassa. It was his first candid revelation of the intrigues of Lowassa decamping.
“Probably, he didn’t know the music we are used to dancing as the opposition. The two years’ storm completely weakened him,” he said. Mr Lowassa could not be reached to comment on Mbowe’s remarks.
According to Mr Mbowe who doubles as leader of opposition in parliament, troubles started the day Mr Lowassa was invited by Muslim clerics for iftar in 2017. He said on that day, he asked the government to free scores of Muslim preachers who had been in remand for over five years.
Police would summon the former PM severally for interrogations over the call. He said Lowassa would late mute whenever he was asked to comment on important national issues. “Whenever we advised him to issue a stand as our party’s presidential candidate in serious national issues such as gunning down of people, he declined.”
“He would say .no Freeman, once I speak, I will be hurt. But I would wonder how he would be doing politics if he feared not to be hurt… they will hurt me if I speak,” said Mbowe, adding that it was betrayal for more than six million people who were declared to have voted for him.
The Chadema chairman, however, assured the members that the party was a strong institution that did not rely on any one individual to remain functional.
“This party will not die because of individuals who has left and even rejoined CCM,” he said. He announced the party will embark on a countrywide registration exercise of both old and new members.