Samia takes aim at politicians' impolite behaviour at rallies

President Samia Suluhu Hassan speaks at a council of political parties stakeholders meeting in Dar es Salaam yesterday. PHOTO | state house

What you need to know:

  • The head of state reiterated the government’s position on constitution rewriting process, saying the mother law was not a preserve for politicians.

Dar es Salaam. President Samia Suluhu Hassan expressed her displeasure yesterday with how some politicians conducted themselves during public rallies, stating that democracy only becomes relevant when it respects a country’s beliefs and traditions.

Speaking during a meeting for the council of political parties, the President said she did not permit political gatherings so that politicians could start calling each other names and disparaging their religions and beliefs. The vividly concerned head of state reiterated her government’s position on the constitution rewriting process, saying the mother law was not a preserve for politicians, hence the need to give Tanzanians enough time to know what it entails.

“There is no [globally accepted] formula for democracy. Democracy must consider a country’s principles, traditions, morals, and ethics. Respect a person and his or her position...,” she said during a meeting attended by leaders of political parties, diplomats, and religious leaders, among others.

She said those standing in front of the public to disparage some people and their religious beliefs in the disguise of democracy were simply engaging in misconduct.

“It only serves to show that some people were not brought up properly in a manner that resonates with our principles, morals, and traditions. Those of us who were brought up by parents who strictly adhered to Tanzania’s morals, principles, and traditions cannot do that,” she said.

President Hassan, who was widely commended in January this year when she lifted a six-year ban on political party rallies, said she did so [lifting the ban] to allow political parties to sell their ideologies and grow.

“The idea was that when we go to elections, we must all be fine. We did not lift the ban so that people could disparage and throw insults at other people’s religious beliefs. Market your policies to Tanzanians so they can buy your viewpoints. Tanzania is for all of us, and no one must come forward and claim to be more Tanzanian than others,” she said.

“We did not give the opportunity for political rallies so that people would break the law and issue insults and slander. But I am not surprised why this is happening—it is because they don’t have anything else to talk about.”

 She added: “We started with the constitution talk, then it broke down in the middle, and then we jumped to the port discussion, and now we are back again with the constitution talks, and all these because they don’t have anything else to talk about, and when there is nothing else to talk about and you are forced to do something, you will end up talking about something that does not exist.”

 The President advised the political parties in the country to use the opportunity to build themselves up, garner more public support, and go into the next general election strong.

She also warned that the country is owned collectively by all Tanzanians, and no one holds the mandate to dictate what should be done, but each and every countryman’s ideas are required to keep the nation moving forward.

The head of state also urged against the use of social media to insult and publish misinformation about the constitution process, as entertained by some of the political parties. She also insisted on the importance of the agreed education initiative towards the constitution review process, warning that it is not owned by political parties but by individual Tanzanians.

“The constitution is not just a book. It’s a moral and ethical standard, and we have a task to inform the public about what it is all about so that every one of us can know and understand it, even when we put it in the book for just reference,” she said.

The Registrar of Political Parties, Judge Francis Mutungi, advised that the current administration under President Hassan should carry the constitution review agenda to the 2025 general election. The veteran politician urged that while it’s limited by time to review the overall constitution, the administration can select key sections for amendments relevant to the 2024 local government elections and the 2025 general elections.

What others say

Vice chairman of NCCR Mageuzi, Mr Joseph Selasini, said President Samia’s statement to revive the process of the constitution review gives hope and that it will facilitate smooth elections in the coming years.

“Our hope, as politicians and Tanzanians in general, is that when the Constitution’s review process begins, we will have an independent electoral commission that will supervise the election so that everyone can see that their vote goes to the person they intended,” said Mr Selasini.

For his part, the chairman of the Tanzanian diaspora, Lee Saydou, said that it is correct that the constitutions of other countries cannot be the same as Tanzania’s because of the difference in values, and in the case of Tanzania, it is significant to protect its own.

The Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC)’s secretary general, Father Charles Kitima, said while the country expects to conduct its local government elections next year (2024), it is important to make changes now when the President is also willing to make them.

“We are relying on the work to be done from the opinions collected from different stakeholders because we have seen how the previous elections were damaged and citizens were denied representation in the council and even in Parliament,” he said.

He said the people have not been represented, which is why in solving the problems that have arisen, such as Loliondo, there are no people to speak for them. Also, he said the parliamentarians failed to defend the privatisation of resources because they passed it.