Dar es Salaam. Yesterday, September 7, 2019 marked two years since former Singida East MP (Chadema) Tundu Lissu survived an assassination attempt after several gunshots were fired at him while in Dodoma where he was attending parliamentary sessions. He has since been outside the country undergoing treatment.
The day remains significant to Mr Lissu because it marked the beginning of a series of challenges that resulted into him being stripped of his parliamentary seat on June 28, 2019 over prolonged absence and failure to sign and submit the assets and liabilities declaration forms for over two years consecutively.
It was basing on such a background that he had set 7th September 2019 as the day when he would return home from Leuven, Belgium where he has so far undergone more than 20 operations to reconstruct his body.
“I will return to my country on a broad daylight. I shall return neither at night nor dawn,” he said to The Citizen’s sister paper, Mwananchi on phone in May this year.
However, Mr Lissu, who once served as President for Tangayika Law Society, couldn’t make it. He told BBC’s Dira ya Dunia on September 2 this year that his doctors had not allowed him to travel, saying he still had other pending issues with medical experts on October 1 and on October 8.
“This September 7 timetable will no longer be possible [for me to return] for my doctors still have some arrangements with me. Thereafter, I’ll arrange my homecoming,” said Mr Lissu.
On social media platforms, however, Tanzanians seized the opportunity to spend the day in remembering the tragedy that befell their compatriot.
A number of people - both public figures and common citizens alike, deluged the social media with messages of solidarity with Mr Lissu while also reminding the government of its responsibility to protect Tanzanians. They also urged authorities to investigate Mr Lissu’s assassination attempt and incidents that have put people’s lives in danger and bring their perpetrators to justice.
“The shooting of Tundu Lissu was a historic incident but also one that has left a mark in the psychology of [Tanzanian] nation,” said the self-styled activist Maria Sarungi-Tsehai in a Twitter post. “It is a cruel act which laid bare the vile that we have never thought imaginable in our country.”
ACT-Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe said in a statement that the shooting of the MP was “unprecedented” in the history of Tanzania. He expressed astonishment to the fact that despite “the abhorrence” involved in the incident, “no investigation has been done yet.” The Police, however, are on record to have said that they were investigating the incident.
“Two years [since the incident occurred] not only even a grasshopper has been arrested in connection to it but also Tundu Lissu was denied treatment. Every kind of vile propaganda has been directed at him and, now, stripped of his parliamentary seat,” said the Kigoma Urban MP (ACT-Wazalendo).
Mr Kabwe, who is a close friend of Mr Lissu and who recently paid him a visit in Belgium, called the shooting “an intolerable cruelty.”
In poem format that he posted on Twitter, Malindi MP Ally Saleh (CUF) urged people to never lose hope and strive to guard their collective dignity. He expressed optimism that Mr Lissu would come back – “not necessarily quickly, if not today, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow” – to “lead.”