Tanzania Chadema party chairperson Freeman Mbowe
- Freeman Mbowe and 10 Chadema members were arrested in the dead of night.
- The arrests come four months after Tanzania’s first female President Samia Suluhu Hassan took office in March.
- The main opposition party has condemned the arrests of its leader and called on police to “come out and say where the chairman is and why he was arrested”.
The leader of Tanzania’s main opposition party Chadema and other members were arrested early on Wednesday, the party said, ahead of a planned conference to demand constitutional reform.
Freeman Mbowe and 10 Chadema members were rounded up in the dead of night in the northwestern port city of Mwanza, it said on Twitter.
“We condemn the repression of the rights of Tanzanians with the strongest force. These are signs that the dictatorship that existed during the rule of President John Magufuli continues,” the party charged.
“Freeman Mbowe was accosted by an army of police officers in his hotel when he arrived at 02:30 am and was arrested together with other leaders,” it said.
The other Chadema members were taken to Mwanza police station but there was no information about Mbowe’s whereabouts.
We want the police to come out and say where the chairman is and why he was arrested.
The arrests come four months after Tanzania’s first female President Samia Suluhu Hassan took office in March following the sudden death of her predecessor Magufuli.
There have been high hopes that Hassan would usher in a change from the autocratic rule of her predecessor, who was nicknamed the “Bulldozer” for his uncompromising leadership style.
The arrests came hours after Mbowe vowed to go ahead with a meeting on constitutional reforms despite Mwanza provincial authorities banning public gatherings to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Do you want to know more about this topic? Sign up for one of News24’s 33 newsletters to receive the information you want in your inbox. Special newsletters are available to subscribers.
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can
trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to
a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism,
top opinions and a range of features. Journalism
strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.