Questions abound over motive for Freeman Mbowe's night attack

What you need to know:

In a joint statement, the European Union mission in Tanzania denounced
the attack against lawmaker Mbowe as an “attack against democracy”

Dar es Salaam. The leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Mr Freeman Mbowe, was yesterday attacked and beaten up by unknown assailants at his home in the capital Dodoma, in an incident that has raised questions over what could be the motive behind the midnight assault.
While his Chadema party’s Secretary General, John Mnyika, described the attack as “politicallymotivated”, Dodoma Regional Police boss Gilles Muroto warned against politicising the incident  Which he called ‘a normal criminal incident.’

Mr Mbowe who is chairman of the main opposition, Chadema, was hospitalised and received initial treatment at Ntyuka Hospital in Dodoma before he was airlifted to Dar es Salaam late in the evening for specialised treatment.

According to police reports, three people set upon Mr Mbowe as he entered his house past mid-night and caused him to suffer a broken leg.

Mr Muroto said police were investigating the matter. “The police will conduct a thorough investigation. Nothing will be left out,” Mr Muroto said during a media briefing, adding that the attackers used their legs, and not any weapons, to harm.

“This is a normal incident like any other. It is forbidden to use it for political purposes,” said Mr Muroto.

But Mr Mnyika said Mr Mbowe’s attack, which has happened some three months ahead of the October General Election, was “politically-motivated” and criticised the police for their remarks.

“Police should not limit themselves in investigations by calling the attack a normal incident while they have not finished the investigations.

Our priority at this moment is Mbowe’s health and we are doing some arrangement to airlift him to Dar es Salaam for further investiga-tions,” he said.

“This attack has some political connections in the sense that the unknown attackers uttered some words related to politics,” he said. He cited the alleged words uttered by the attackers: “you have been very stubborn to the government...we will not kill you but we will beat and see how you are going to do the campaign.”

The Citizen could not independently establish if the words were actually uttered by the assailants.

The assault happened a few metres from where former Singida East MP Tundu Lissu (Chadema) was attacked in September 2017 by unknown gunmen who sprayed bullets in his body.

Lissu was airlifted to Nairobi and later to Belgium where he has since been receiving treatment. Yesterday, Speaker of the Nation-al Assembly Job Ndugai allayed the fears among MPs, saying “Dodoma is very safe” despite the attack.

“I think you are witnesses to Dodoma safety. You have been here all the time and nobody lost a part of his body.

Dodoma is really very safe,” Mr Ndugai told MPs as he briefed about Mbowe’s health.

Mr Ndugai was among leaders who visited Mbowe in hospital yesterday morning.

“I would urge the security organs to make sure they complete investigations as soon as possible to contain spread of rumours,” he added. The attack also raises the questions about the security of the official Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.

Mr Mnyika refused to reveal the details about people who were with Mbowe during the attack for fears of interfering the investigations.

Other opposition parties and politicians condemned the incident which they said was not only shocking but also sad. “We strongly condemn the incident and ask the state organs to investigate the incident and arrest the attackers,” ACT Wazalendo said in a statement.

Other leaders who visited Mr Mbowe included Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Tulia Ackson and several other MPs.

The European Union Heads of Mission in Tanzania yesterday issued a joint statement on the attack, saying they “trust that the authorities will successfully investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

“Every attack against a representative of the institutions of the United Republic of Tanzania, what-ever his/her political affiliation, is an attack against democracy.

“With general elections only a few months ahead of us it is essential to let democracy take its course and ensure all conditions to full participation in credible and transparent elections,” the mission said in a statement.