TUNDU Lissu, Tanzania’s phenomenal presidential candidate facing incumbent John Magufuli, has defied a temporary suspension of his campaign by the National Electoral Commission (NEC), saying it is unfair, unlawful and unacceptable.
He made the statement during a brief press conference at his home in Dar es Salaam within minutes of NEC’s decision on Friday late afternoon. In its decision, circulated to the media in the afternoon, NEC accused Lissu of violating some election regulations, including stopping to make impromptu addresses to masses of people who block his entourage. It suspended his campaign for seven days from October 3.
But Lissu said NEC was working against its own regulations because he was not served with any notice, and was not given the right to be heard, including submitting his written defence within 48 hours as required by the regulations.
Even, the decision, he said, was communicated through media – which is unlawful and unacceptable. To him, this decision is not unexpected because the electoral commission is clearly biased against him, for the incumbent.
“As far as I am concerned, this decision does not hold water and cannot deter me from carrying on with my campaign in the final round that kicks off on Sunday,” he said.
He noted, however, that his party (Chadema) would be holding the Central Committee meeting to deliberate on a number of issues, including this one. Subject to his party’s central committee’s final decision, he said, his campaign would go on as planned.
According to the timetable released by NEC yesterday, Magufuli will be having an 8-day break during the same period that Lissu has been forced to put a halt to his campaign.
“I know their intention. They do not want me to be on the campaign trail during the same week that Magufuli is resting. They are wary of the issues that I will raise for which they have no adequate responses. It is a strategy to tame me, which I am not going to accept,” he said.
He also accused NEC of being partisan, in which case the electoral body had quietly sat on accusations submitted by Chadema against Magufuli on September 21, 2020. Chadema is accusing Magufuli and his party of repeatedly violating the election regulations and laws by abusing state power, as well as threatening and bribing voters. Lissu said no action has been taken by NEC.
For the past few days, the ruling party (CCM), the registrar of political parties, the police force and NEC have been ganging up against Lissu, attempting to make accusation after accusation, as a way of distracting him from his formidable campaign against the incumbent.
Yesterday, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Simon Sirro, ordered Lissu to report to the Regional police authorities in Kilimanjaro, alleging the presidential candidate had used abusive language against police officers the previous day.
Interestingly, at the time of the IGP’s order, the same police officers were escorting Lissu on his way from Kilimanjaro to Dar es Salaam. In the evening, the metropolitan police authorities in Dare s Salaam issued a written notice requiring Lissu to report to the Central Police Station by 9 am on Friday, today.
But the notice was addressed to the chairman of the party instead of the candidate himself. Lissu defied it, and the police authorities eventually cancelled it on Friday morning, saying they had opted to employ “wisdom” in handling the matter.
Reliable sources within the police force told SAUTI KUBWA that they were working under “extreme pressure from above.”
It is the ruling party’s way of silencing Lissu, whose message seems to resonate well with millions of his supporters who buy into his party’s campaign for “freedom, justice and people-centred development.”