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Tanzanian opposition parties agree to work together to unseat President Magufuli

Tanzania’s main opposition parties remain committed to fielding a single candidate for each of the Tanzania and Zanzibar presidential elections in October, despite nominating separate candidates this week.

ACT Wazalendo leader Zitto Kabwe confirmed this on Wednesday after his party and the other major party, Chadema, each nominated their own candidates.

ACT Wazalendo announced that its national congress had nominated former foreign minister Bernard Membe as its candidate for the United Republic of Tanzania and the party’s chairperson Seif Sharif Hamad for Zanzibar.

On Tuesday Chadema nominated its national vice-chairperson, Tundu Lissu, as its candidate for the overall Tanzanian federal presidency and Said Issa Mohamed for the Zanzibar presidency.

Lissu returned to Tanzania on 27 July 2020 from Belgium where had gone to receive treatment after an assassination attempt against him on September 7, 2017, in the capital Dodoma.

Kabwe confirmed to Daily Maverick that despite nominating separate candidates, ACT Wazalendo and Chadema remained committed to eventually fielding single opposition candidates in each of the Tanzania and Zanzibar elections in October.

He said that Lissu had addressed Wednesday’s national congress in Dar es Salaam which nominated Membe and Hamad.

“Mr Lissu pledged that he and his party will work with ACT Wazalendo to remove the governing CCM from power in October. He paid significant tribute to ACT chairman Seif Sharif Hamad, calling him the ‘historic leader of the Zanzibar people,’ ” Kabwe said in a statement.

“We agree with Mr Lissu that the only way to bring change to Tanzania in October is for the main opposition parties to work together. I look forward to working with my colleagues from both ACT Wazalendo and Chadema over the next couple of weeks to finalise the details of our cooperation.

“The future of our country and its people is too important to waste this opportunity. Now is the time to unite behind a common mission of unseating the current government to bring true freedom, growth and prosperity to the United Republic of Tanzania and Zanzibar. We owe it to our children and future generations,” Kabwe said.

The opposition parties have been drawn together by a growing determination to unseat President John Magufuli who is running for a second term for the CCM. He has become increasingly autocratic since he was first elected in 2015, clamping down on opposition leaders, civil society and the media.

He has also imperilled the lives of Tanzanians, his opponents say, by denying the threat posed by Covid-19. Magufuli stopped his health officials from reporting infections and deaths on 29 April, when the country reported an accumulated 509 cases and 21 deaths.

Magufuli claimed then that the officials had issued false reports which exaggerated the extent of the disease. Since then he has claimed the disease has been defeated by prayer, but his political opponents and civil society say he is covering up.

This article was published by Daily Maverick.


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