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Renson Mwakandana

A six-year ban on political gatherings was enforced by Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s hard-line predecessor, John Magufuli, as part of her 4Rs initiative—Reconciliation, Resilience, Reforms, and Rebuilding.

She accepted that political parties had the right to conduct rallies, but she advised them to do it in a “civil” manner without exchanging “insults.”

Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of Tanzania /Africa Report/ 

Rallies between elections were prohibited by Mr. Magufuli in what was perceived as an effort to undermine the opposition. He criticized rallies as a time and financial waste and claimed they distracted from the main issue of constructing the economy.

The late Mr. John Magufuli, former president of Tanzania /BBC/

At a meeting with opposition MPs, Mrs. Samia revealed the policy change. “Our duty as a government will be offering protection for the rallies,” she said. 

Freeman Mbowe, the leader of the main opposition Chadema party, expressed his approval of the news.

He stated, “The move is first of all a return to a right guaranteed in the constitution and our laws.” Prior to the prosecution’s March 2022 decision to dismiss the terrorist allegations against Mr. Mbowe, he was imprisoned for seven months.

Freeman Mbowe, the leader of the main opposition Chadema party /Tuko/

His detention had cast doubt on Mrs. Samia’s dedication to reforms when she took office in the wake of Mr. Magufuli’s passing in 2021. Zito Kabwe, a different opposition lawmaker, told AFP that the president’s decision to abolish the ban was a “big move.”

He said, “This is the right that the state illegally took away by a presidential order.” Additionally, Mrs. Samia pledged to investigate constitutional amendment requests from the opposition.

According to opposition parties, the president is granted excessive power under the constitution. They also want adjustments made to protect the courts’ and electoral commissions’ independence.

The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), which has held power for more than 50 years, is led by Mrs. Samiah. It has frequently been charged with stealing elections and intimidating and harassing the opposition. The claims are refuted by it.

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