Dar es Salaam. Chadema national chairperson Freeman Mbowe said here yesterday that it will be “madness” to go to polls in October under the current electoral system and still expect free and fair elections.
Mr Mbowe was speaking at a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam, where - among other things - he said that, without substantive reforms of the country’s electoral system, including ensuring palpable independence of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), elections may bring the country into “unnecessary chaos and violence.”
Indicating his disappointment to find common ground with the government through dialogue, the Hai MP (Chadema) said: “And, because our colleagues [in the government] have turned a deaf ear to these demands and - because we have reached the limit of our patience - we will continue to demand these changes through activism.”
The actions, according to him, would involve organising and holding rallies across the country starting from April 4 where they will demand an independent electoral body as well as the preparation for the upcoming general election of a president, members of parliament and councillors.
“Our patience, wisdom and calmness have been taken for granted to the point of being irritating. If [the government] will resort to the use of the Police Force and the Prison Service to put us all behind bars, so be it! But we have to stand up against persecution,” he stressed.
Mr Mbowe was one of the eight Chadema leaders who were jailed in Segerea prison after failing to pay the hefty fines imposed upon them by the Kisutu resident magistrates court on Tuesday last week after they were convicted of sedition and incitement charges. They were also accused of arranging an illegal rally which resulted in the accidental killing of a National Institute of Transport student, Akwilina Akwilini, in February 2018.
Through donations by Chadema members and the general public, the leaders were released from prison after they paid all the fines, thius avoidine staying in jail for five months.
Mr Mbowe called the alleged beating of opposition MPs Halima Mdee and Esther Bulaya as well as Chadema member Jessica Kishoa outside the Segerea prison “deliberate and strategic,” while warning heads of Tanzania state apparatus to be careful, saying they may have immunity under the John Magufuli administration but not at the international level.
The MPs together with other party leaders and members were allegedly beaten by Prison Service guards when they went to receive Mr Mbowe after the fine he was supposed to pay was cleared.
“They are misusing their offices to abuse and persecute people; surely one day they will be defendants at the International Criminal Court” in Holland, said Mr Mbowe. “We condemn the acts in the strongest terms.”