Tanzanian opposition heavyweight Tundu Lissu returned home from exile last week to challenge President John Magufuli in elections later this year.
Lissu, a former MP with the main opposition party Chadema who was shot 16 times in a 2017 attack returned home in style with hundreds of supporters clamoring around his car as he waved from an open sunroof.
On arrival, he was welcomed by party chairman Freeman Mbowe at the airport who was also assaulted sometime in June in a ‘politically-motivated’ attack according to the opposition party. This, among other rights violations has been described by the United States as an attempt to “stifle democratic norms” ahead of the polls, with a string of arrests of opposition figures and the repression of a free press.
Upon leaving exile, Lissu said he was “going back home to try and fight for the presidency.” Tanzania will hold a general election on October 28 this year.
“Whether we are going to have free and fair elections, the issue is… are we going to have our lives by the end of the electoral process?” He said the opposition and his political party had “gone through hell during these five years”.
“The biggest thing has been the untold suffering. Killings of political leaders, attacks on political leaders, abductions, disappearances, torture, illegal prosecution of opposition leaders and activists in courts of law, with trumped-up charges.” Lissu said his health was good after the unfortunate incident, in which he was shot at his home in 2017. In the same year, Lissu was arrested at least six times in the same year.
“You have to be aware of the fact that I was shot 16 times. All my limbs, my legs, my waist, my arms, my stomach were basically ripped apart by 16 bullet shots and therefore to mend me, to put me back on my feet, took a long time. “Of course I’m not as I was three years ago: my leg is shorter by several centimetres (an inch or so). But otherwise I’m fine.”
Speaking on the sidelines of the Corona Virus pandemic, Lissu said that Magufuli’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been “a national embarrassment” and raised concerns about the holding of the election. Magufuli claims there are no more cases in the country, which last released official figures in April. Shockingly, Tanzanian truck drivers regularly test positive in neighbouring countries.
“So we have total blackout on corona, and because there is total blackout, the president wants the world to believe that there is no corona. It’s a disaster.”
Liberty Pazvakawambwa SADC News