Tundu Lissu’s bittersweet return to Dodoma

Sunday August 9 2020

Chadema Presidential candidate Tundu Lissu

Chadema Presidential candidate Tundu Lissu addressing journalists in Dodoma on Saturday August 08. The Citizen

By Louis Kolumbia

Dar es Salaam. Former Singida East lawmaker Tundu Lissu was evacuated from Dodoma three years ago while unconscious after surviving an assassination attempt.

Yesterday, he returned to the same city as Chadema’s presidential candidate, under the tight security of his party, to pick up nomination forms from the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to run for presidency in the October polls.

On September 7, 2017, unknown assailants sprayed 16 bullets all over his body in the tightly guarded compound of his home during Parliamentary sessions, and since then, the outspoken lawyer has been abroad for specialized treatment; mostly in Belgium.

Speaking yesterday after picking up the forms at NEC offices in Dodoma, to seek for endorsement to run for presidency, Mr Lissu recalled the moments when health workers teamed up to rescue his life. Sections of the event were streamlined live by Mwananchi Digital.

 “I would like to thank doctors and nurses at the Dodo- ma Regional Referral Hospital for their job on September 7, 2017 that saved my life. With- out them, probably, we wouldn’t have seen this event today,” said Mr Lissu who was in a sombre mood.

“Specifically, I would like to thank residents of Dodoma for what they did because I’m told, after regaining my consciousness that they appeared in large numbers at the hospital where they prayed for me and did everything good they could to ensure my life was saved. I thank them all very much deep from my heart,” said the firebrand politician.

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Three years ago when he was attacked, Lissu was taken to Dodoma Regional Referral Hospital for emergency treatment before being flown to Nairobi Hospital in Kenya where he was treated until June 6, 2018. 

 He was then referred to the Leuven University Hospital in Gasthuisberg, Belgium, where he received specialized treatment and rehabilitation until July 27, 2020 when he returned home.

Addressing a press conference at party’s headquarters after arriving on July 27, this year, Mr Lissu described the attempt on his life as brutal, saying it has left his body with full of braces, scars and one bullet that is still lodged in his bone.

 “I can walk and dance as you have seen in the car but this body contains many braces that no one has ever seen from my knees to the pelvis,” said Mr Lissu, adding.

“If there was a possibility to put off my clothes not many of you would look at me twice,” said Mr Lissu in front of a jubilant crowd that had escorted his convoy right from the Julius Nyerere International Airport.

 But, yesterday, Mr Lissu who garnered 91 per cent of votes against his opponents Lazaro Nyalandu (8pc) and Dr Mayrose Majige (0.23pc) during the Chadema General Congress meeting returned to the country’s administrative capital as the 2020 presidential candidate.

Accompanied by his running mate Salum Mwalimu Juma, the duo collected nomination forms at the NEC headquarters where they were handed the documents by the electoral body’s chairman Judge Semistocles Kaijage.

 Inside the facility, he was also accompanied by outgo- ing lawmakers Godbless Lema (Arusha); Peter Msigwa (Iringa Urban); John Heche (Tarime Rural); Ester Bulaya (Bunda Urban) and party’s spokesperson Tumaini Makene.

Speaking to journalists, the former Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) president recalled the 2017 ordeal that left him unconscious, thanking the health medics at the Dodoma Referral Regional Hospital.

About yesterday’s event, Mr Lissu, who doubles as Chadema Vice Chairman (Mainland), said collection of nomination forms from the country’s electoral body commences the party’s journey towards the October 28 General Election.

 “Starting this time until August 25, this year, we will make efforts to visit the entire country to collect signatures from 2,000 sureties in 10 regions among our members in order to meet demands of the National Elections Act and its Regulations,” he said.

 According to him, yesterday’s incident (collecting nomination forms) gives them permission to reach citizens all over the country until August 25, this year when the documents would be returned.

 Briefing journalists earlier yesterday, Mr Makene said they would not waste time after yesterday Mr Lissu was guaranteed by party members in Dodoma Region.

“He will spend two days (Sunday and Monday) in Singida Region because not only is it his home town, but also this will be the comeback after a failed assassination attempt on his life,” he said.

June 8, this year, Mr Lissu addressed the public through social media from Belgium saying reforming the economy, defence and security systems, as well as promoting multiparty democracy and bringing consensus were priorities that pushed him to stand for presidency in this year’s elections.

Schedule released by NEC shows that presidential candidates will collect and return nomination forms from August 5 to August 25.

Candidates for parliamentary seats, members of the Representative Council and councillorship will collect and return nomination forms between August 12 and August 25. Election campaigns will be launched on August 26 and be closed on October 27, this year