Dar es Salaam. Chadema is transforming the approach it uses to market itself to potential members as it seeks to up its role in Tanzania’s democratisation process.
Having gone through trying times during the reign of former President John Magufuli, Chadema’s national chairman, Mr Freeman Mbowe, said yesterday that time was ripe for the party to do politics in a different manner and avoid the allure of revenging for the ills that its members were exposed to between 2015 and 2021.
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Speaking during the opposition party’s General Assembly, Mr Mbowe said Chadema had been built for 25 years, noting however that when the late Magufuli became the ruling party leader, he immediately embarked on the task of destroying it into pieces.
“We all know that in 2020, during the general election, the entire election system was ‘stolen’… Our party members are not required to be crying. Neither are we required to build the spirit of revenge. Instead, we must use that opportunity to build a party that is better and stronger,” said Mr Mbowe, who was remanded for eight months on terrorism-related charges before his acquittal in March.
He told participants of the meeting that what happened in 2021 was part of showing God’s power and love for Tanzania. “It is time now to have a more proud Chadema, a stronger Chadema and of course, a better Chadema,” he said.
From the death of some powerful people and the fall of some influential politicians and up to his arrest, Mr Mbowe said everything had to happen in order to show the reason why the nation should say: ‘Never Again’ and raise voice on the new constitution demand.
As soon as he was acquitted of terrorism-related charges in March, Mr Mbowe said he was invited by President Samia Suluhu Hassan and he responded positively to the invitation.
This, he said, was because he was willing to swallow his pride for the general good of the nation. He said he told the President that Tanzania had turned into a country where its citizens were classified into grades depending on their political affiliations.
It was encouraging, Mr Mbowe said, that President Samia expressed her willing to respect the rights of all Tanzanians irrespective of their political affiliations.
“I went to meet the President in an effort to try to bridge the gap between leaders of political parties. It was a meeting that sought to heal the nation…We are ready to work with every person who believes in people’s rights,” he said.
Chadema, he said, must be ready to respect the views of others. “It must be a party that has humility towards all other political parties and their decisions. It should be a party that builds true activism. It shouldn’t be a party whose leaders insult other parties in meetings or on the internet. This is a party that will reconcile the nation,” he said.
In social media platforms, Mr Mbowe said, he could see some leaders of this party posting words that hurt other parties.
“This must stop now. Let’s respect their standpoints. Democracy is about coming with different viewpoints,” he said, urging Chadema leaders to use their powers to build their party instead of utilising it to castigate others.
He said he wants to build a Chadema that preaches peaceful co-existence and one that shows hope of the destiny for all Tanzanians.
“My decision to meet the President should not be seen as a miracle. It shouldn’t be that way. It is seen that way because we have built a country of mistrusts….Whenever an opposition leader goes to meet the President at the State House, it is seen as if there is some form of business….When I met the President, I told her that it was difficult to lead Tanzania by ignoring Chadema,” he said.
Mr Mbowe said the political parties’ Registrar should not be used to create divisions among political parties.
“We are willing to work with you, but allow us to do politics as free people,” he said.
He said during the first meeting with the President, he agreed with the President that they should meet again in April and though the President travelled to the US, they met again on Monday, and that the next meeting would involve a delegation of the Presidency, the ruling party officials and Chadema officials.
Attend others’ meetings
Earlier, the assistant Registrar of Political Parties, Mr Sisty Nyahoza congratulated Chadema for convening the General Assembly, noting however that the party should also be taking part in similar gatherings by other political parties.
Veteran journalist and activist Jenerali Ulimwengu said though he was not a member of the political party, he was believer of its slogan of People’s Power.
The need for a new constitution and an independent electoral commission came out strongly at the meeting, with leaders from other parties who attended saying the opposition needs a coalition in the fight for the issues.
Those who spoke included national chairmen for ACT Wazalendo, Mr Juma Duni Haji and his NCCR Mageuzi as well as Chauma counterparts, Mr James Mbati and Hashim Rungwe respectively. A representative from CUF, Mr Salvatory Magafu, also spoke at the event.
Speaking at the rally, Mr Duni Haji said that the journey of the opposition is one of ensuring that we get a new constitution and an independent commission.
“Our job as politicians is to prepare the public so that the rulers know that what is good and what is bad…opposition parties must unite and be united,” said Mr Haji.
He said ACT-Wazalendo was ready to work with other like-minded parties to ensure the agenda of the new constitution and independent electoral commission becomes a reality.
Mr Magafu said it was due to the importance that his party attaches to the new constitution that on November 2,2020, its decision-making body sat down and voted not to participate in any elections until a new constitution is found.
Unite or die
Ugandan opposition politician and leader of the National Unity Platform (NUP) Robert Kyagulanyi - popularly known as Bobi wine – who was invited as a special guest to Chadema’s General Assembly, said unity and solidarity among African opposition politicians would liberate the parties from the tyranny of the rulers. “Those of us who are in charge of public power, must unite as those in power. We will be strong if we unite and we will be weak if we separate,” said Bobi Wine.
Mr Kyagulanyi, who ran for president in Uganda in 2020, urged the parties and its members to focus on actions that would bring hope, instead of complaining about the suffering and pain they are experiencing. “We in Uganda have made up our minds that we will not lose. We will probably win or learn but we will not lose. We have to accept our challenges and decide to build unity in the fight for justice,” he said.
During the meeting, Chadema was to deliberate on the fate of its 19 special seats Members of Parliament who were stripped of their membership on November 27, 2020 after they had gone to be sworn-in in Dodoma to hold Special Seats positions without the au
Additional reporting by Naomi William