Dar es Salaam. Security was beefed up in various parts across Tanzania yesterday as security forces sought to quell planned demonstrations amid calls for an amicable redress of the political dispute.
Until press time yesterday, over ten top opposition figures - including Chadema’s national chairman, Mr Freeman Mbowe - had been arrested on allegations of plans to stage demonstrations. The Chadema presidential candidate, Mr Tundu Lissu, was also arrested in the evening, but set free soon after a brief interrogation at the Central Police Station in Dar.
Opposition parties called for peaceful demonstrations yesterday in an effort to force annulment of the October 28, 2020 General Election and call a fresh vote over ‘massive irregularities.’ President John Magufuli secured a second term after NEC announced him winner by 84.4 percent while his party won almost every parliamentary and council seats. However, the opposition some of whose officials across the country were also being rounded up say the vote was illegitimate and one that was characterised by vote stuffing while their agents were denied entry into polling stations. Their call for countrywide demonstrations was received with a heavy presence of security personnel in various regions yesterday.
Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone Commander Lazaro Mambosasa said police had arrested eight leaders in Dar es Salaam. He said police were well prepared to deal with those who were planning to hold demonstrations. Amid such a situation, there were repeated calls for involved parties to find an amicable solution to the situation. Several organisations such as the Commonwealth and Foreign envoys called for swift investigations into the allegations of irregularities by involving all parties to get an amicable solution. “I hope that every option will be explored to maintain trust in the electoral process and to ensure that democracy, peace and unity are safeguarded in Tanzania. The Commonwealth will remain ready to offer support if required,” said the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt Hon Patricia Scotland. He urged authorities to investigate allegations of serious electoral irregularities, violence and of deaths, particularly in Zanzibar. Evangelical Assemblies of God Tanzania (EAGT) bishop for Kagera and Shinyanga Zone Raphael Machimu said: “If the opposition parties think there were irregularities in the election, they need to deal with the matter by following legal procedures. In the same vein, the UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, said Tanzania’s future stability and prosperity required a credible democratic process. “We join others in calling for a transparent investigation by the electoral authorities into reported irregularities, and for all involved, including the security forces, to act with restraint to ensure the peaceful resolution of tensions,” he said in a statement. This came shortly after the US Government called for Tanzania’s authorities to cooperate with various stakeholders in dealing with last week’s general election related complaints transparently. “This will restore the trust and pave the way for respecting the rule of law and good governance,” reads a part of the US Embassy statement.
The ACT-Wazalendo leader, Zitto Kabwe, also called for investigations. “For this to work, we need an independent, credible investigation that will be seen as legitimate by all parties and citizens of Tanzania,” said Mr Kabwe. He was of the view that all parties work with the regional and international community.
“Fresh elections need to be held, individuals also need to be held accountable for violence, loss of life.”