Tanzania leading opposition party Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) postponed its recent trademark nation-wide protest against bulldozer president John Magufuli.
Addressing a presser today, party chairman Freemen Mbowe said the postponement was made following an appeal from religious leaders to be given extra-time to broker peace between the party and the president.
“We have postponed the protest to give way for dialogue between religious leaders and president john Magufuli” Mbowe said.
Noose tightened between both parties after the opposition threatened to hold demonstration rallies across the country to call on Tanzanian to defy against president Magufuli’s rule starting September 1. Mbowe said the protests have been postponed to October 1.
President Magufuli earlier vowed to crack down on what he called troublemakers “without mercy”
“Do not test me…I don’t want violence in this country … I will deal with anyone who causes violence thoroughly and without mercy,” he said.
Chadema accuse president Magufuli of becoming increasingly authoritarian, undermining democracy by curbing political activity and restricting live TV coverage of parliamentary sessions among others.
The party formed a lobby group, Umoja wa Kupambana na Udikteta (Ukuta), Swahili for coalition against dictatorship and whose acronym means wall and is calling on civil society, political parties and citizens to join the movement.
Yesterday, Tanzania Police stormed chadema meeting in a hotel and ordered them to stop it, saying it was illegal. Chairman Mbowe, and former presidential flag bearer Edward Lowassa and other party leaders were then escorted to the Central Police Station, where they were interrogated.
Local media reported that security agencies had started a mass crack down on leaders around the country. Analysts say, the party had limited space to mobilize supporters for the demonstrations called as a show of defiance against the government’s “increasingly dictatorial tendencies”.
Several other senior officials, including deputy secretary-general (Zanzibar) Salum Mwalimu, were languishing in police custody yesterday following their arrest last weekend.
A political analyst from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) quoted by the Citizen newspaper, Dr Benson Bana, said both sides in the dispute should reconsider their earlier decisions in the dispute.
He said Chadema should reconsider if demonstrations were the only way of addressing their political concerns and the government should review some of its decisions that were now not acceptable to the public.
“It is obvious that Chadema’s campaign is now full of cracks, while the government also needs to reconsider its responsibilities to the people,” he said.
Chadema press Conference