Tanzania general election: Lissuphobia versus Euphoria

“Our God is wonderful. He has heard your prayers and today I am with you in good health ready to carry out the rest of the work. I was very hurt, my brothers. During the first two weeks after the attack, I suffered the most severe relapse that I had never experienced. The body was on fire. I promise I will never let anyone down in the pain I have experienced no matter how much he has wronged me.”

This is the latest, and one of the strongest, statements from Tundu Lissu, the presidential aspirant for the opposition in Tanzania who, on 7th September 2017, survived an assassination attempt in which 16 bullets hit his body from a barrage of bullets sprayed by unidentified assassins on his car.

He made this statement on Sunday 9th August 2020 at his home village, Mahambe, in Ikungi District, Singida region, as he addressed thousands of people gathered to welcome him home for the first time since the fateful incident three years ago. On Monday morning 10th August 2020, Lissu attended a special Church service of Thanksgiving at Ikungi Parish, where he was baptised in 1969.

In both Nairobi and Brussels hospitals, he underwent 24 surgeries to remove bullet remains from his body. As of today, no one has so far been either suspected or arrested in connection with the incident. Sources, using circumstantial pieces of evidence, point accusing fingers to President Magufuli’s government.

He flew back to Tanzania on 27th July 2020 after treatment to face incumbent John Magufuli in the October 2020 general election. His party, Chadema, has nominated him as its flagbearer. His return has breathed new life into Tanzania’s demagogic and brutal politics, and his new statement giver fresh hopes for a better and peaceful Tanzania after the elections. On 8th August 2020, Lissu received the presidential nomination forms from the National Electoral Commission.

To fulfil the legal requirements before his official nomination on 25th Agust 2020, he is touring the country to seek the endorsement from at least 2000 registered voters, with 200 signatures from at least each of 10 regions of his choice including Pemba and Zanzibar.

The country under siege, engulfed by both Lissuphobia and Euphoria

In the absence of independent institutions in the country, all state organs are up in arms to defend president Magufuli and his party before surging Lissu.

So far, no institution is observing partiality any longer. The police force was the first on the scene when it forbid people from going to the airport to welcome Lissu on return from Europe.

But wisdom popped up when finally police yielded to people’s pressure as they appeared in thousands to give him a warm welcome at the Julius Nyerere International Airport.

The registrar of political parties was the second on the line after he held a press conference to condemn Lissu’s party, Chadema, for what he termed as “defiling” the national anthem.

Apparently, the registrar was reacting to Chadema’s move to add a made-up 3rd stanza to the anthem, beseeching the Almighty to “Bless Chadema, ”during the opening session of the party’s national Congress on 2nd August 2020.

It was obvious that the registrar was under pressure from authorities to interfere with the congress proceedings.

Interestingly, the same registrar had refrained from warning the ruling party for using the same anthem to sing “God Bless Magufuli” a few weeks earlier. Instances of a double standard before the law are rife and open.

The Judicially, the parliament, the law enforcement organs, the media, and the civil service are under one command to favour the ruling party and sabotage the opposition.

With Lissu’s popularity, the fear is developing into a phobia. On the other side, the opposition camp has been revitalized by the return of Tundu Lissu.

His outspokenness and boldness in dealing with the impunity are encouraging many to participate in the election process, albeit with all indications of state influence and rigging.

Fueled with high unemployment and disenfranchised population, disappointed Tanzanians see Lissu as a beacon of hope and a strong voice for them.

Last year, the government “stole” the entire local government election with impunity, denying the people their democratic chance to elect leaders of their choice. This time, people are vowing never to let it happen again.

The ruling party has lost influence and popularity

The political management of the ruling party has, for the last five years, been left in the hands of the police force. Magufuli unlawfully outlawed political rallies, meetings and activities. Only the ruling party was allowed to operate by using the state apparatus to lure people’s attention.

Lissu’s euphoria comes from the fact that the institutions in the country are silent and timid, the international community ignored, and the civil societies are controlled by legal anachronism emanating from the repressive laws enacted to feed Magufuli’s ego and impunity.

Magufuli’s phobia of Lissu and the entire opposition comes from the fact that in the ongoing election primaries, some of his closest cronies have been rejected, including those he had bought off from opposition parties as part of his propaganda to discredit and kill the opposition.

Magufuli party members’ message to him is clear, that his choice cannot necessarily be their choice. His closest confidant, demagogic and semi-illiterate Paul Makonda who, for the last five years was the Regional Commissioner for Dar es Salaam, unstrategically left the post to vie for a parliamentary seat in Kigamboni, lost unceremoniously and he is currently jobless.

Makonda is Magufuli’s first-ever official to be banned from entering the US and Europe on account of serious criminal charges including his involvement in denying people’s right to life.

Sources close to global human rights network say he is a possible client for gross human rights violations charges. Domestically, Makonda is on the top list of the clandestine drug business, and he is responsible for the disappearance of tens of government critics.



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