Dar es Salaam. Tanzania’s main Opposition Chadema yesterday promised reforms including the new constitution after approving presidential candidates and the party manifesto ahead of the General Election slated for this October.
The party’s congress approved Mr Tundu Lissu as the presidential candidate and Mr Salim Mwalimu as his running mate for Union presidency. The party also passed Mr Said Issa Mohamed for Zanzibar presidency.
This year’s manifesto would focus on people’s development and human rights, according to Chadema’s communications and foreign affairs director Jon Mrema who presented the summary of the manifesto during the top meeting to which several invitees from other parties also attended yesterday. He said the party would spearhead devolution of governance leading to forming of county governments.
According to him, the new government, if the party wins, would revive the constitutional process within 100 days since the election by taking up the Second Draft of the Warioba Constitution which stalled since 2015.
“Our government will repeal all laws contradicting human rights and submit a Bill for reconciliation in a span of 100 days to offset the possibility of retaliation,” said Mr Mrema.
Salary increment to civil servants, improving business environment by streamlining taxes and stimulating the natural gas economy were other promises in the manifesto while the party also guaranteed to reduce corporate tax from 25 percent currently to between 15 and 20 percent lower VAT from the current 18 percent rate to between 10 and 15 percent.
Coalition is a must
The chairman for ACT-Wazalendo, Mr Seif Sharif Hamad, who was invited, said the issue of cooperation and alliances among opposition parties was a must if they were to yield the change that Tanzanians were yearning for.
Mr Hamad gave the statement yesterday, hardly a day after Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe, had said that his party was still holding talks with the ACT Wazalendo party about cooperation in the forthcoming polls.
Speaking on behalf of other political parties during Chadema’s Congress, Mr Hamad reiterated that Chadema was still in talks with his party and wished that the discussion had ended before the congresses of the parties were held.
“I know you are holding your congress for picking your presidential aspirant and we are going to hold ours tomorrow (today) for the same purpose. So, I would like that we make a decision before these meetings,” said ACT-Wazalendo chairman.
Mr Hamad, who is the sole presidential candidate, who collected forms to vie for the presidency of Zanzibar on the ACT-Wazalendo ticket, said their action did not mean that they had isolated other parties, but they were laying down strong foundations.
“We cannot cooperate with the parties that have already announced to support another presidential aspirant. We will cooperate with those serious parties as we have no alternative, but to cooperate with other political parties,” he said.
As Seif did not mention the parties, recently Tanzania Labour Party’s (TLP) leader Augustine Mrema and United Democratic Party’s (UDP) John Cheyo were quoted as pledging their support to President John Magufuli during this year’s October General Election.
Opening Chadema’s congress, Mr Mbowe said they would receive reports from all the 10 zones of the party as well as those from the party’s governing councils on how they had prepared for the forthcoming polls.
“We are prepared to field parliamentary contestants in all the constituencies and councillorship posts in all the wards as we are well prepared to participate in cooperation that will not reduce our power,” said Mr Mbowe
For his part, assistant registrar of political parties Sisty Nyahoza has called upon political parties to observe the country’s laws during this period towards the elections.
“One of the foundations of political parties is to implement the issues of democracy that is run by laws and we, as patrons, call upon you to observe the laws,” said Mr Nyahoza.
The executive director for Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation, Mr Joseph Butiku, prayed for a peaceful and fare election, saying that way, the country will be able to vote into office the best leaders.
He said Tanzania was a peaceful nation and that it was important that the peaceful nature be maintained.
The multiparty system of government, he said, was meant to improve good governance and allow citizens to take a bigger role in the running of their country’s affairs.
“Our country has been independent for a period of 59 years. 28 years ago, we adopted the multiparty system of governance…We have lived through this culture despite the available challenges. The Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation is not a political institution. Our role is to advise so that together, we can get the best leaders who will govern us in accordance with these principles,” he said.
The Registrar of Political Parties, Judge Francis Mutungi, has warned Chadema leadership not to repeat the offence of bringing the National Anthem into contempt.
He further warned to take tough legal action against the party if the latter would continue to do so, a statement that was concurred by an independent lawyer Godwin Ngwilimi.
Mr Ngwilimi, former deputy president of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS), said Chadema had committed an offence according to the National Emblems Act that prevents any person from inserting words that distort the actual meaning of the emblems including the National Anthem.
Moments before a meeting of the Chadema governing council started two days ago, members of the meeting, with fanfare, had received the party’s leaders led by their chairman, Mbowe, before they stopped for the respect for the National Anthem to be played. However, after two verses of the national anthem had been sung about Africa and Tanzania, the members of the meeting added the third verse that was heard as follows; “God bless Chadema, bless its leaders, wisdom, unity and peace, God bless Chadema and its people ...”
Due to that, Judge Mtungi told reporters yesterday that Chadema had made an offence to insert the verse, according to the country’s Constitution and laws.
Judge Mutungi blasted the action and warned the party of trying to provoke the government in taking action over the breaking of the country’s laws towards the General Election.
“Political parties should not get into the trap of breaking the country’s laws as all the political parties are required to adhere to the Constitution of the United Republic, the Constitution of Zanzibar and their constitutions as well. This is a criminal act and I cannot remain silent. So, we warn them of not repeating again,” said Judge Mutungi.
Additional reporting by Kelvin Matandiko and Peter Elias