Tanzania: Don’t Hold Protest Demos, Cleric Advises Chadema

Renowned evangelist Reverend Anthony Lusekelo has warned leaders and members of opposition CHADEMA against their intended countrywide demonstrations on September 1, urging them to engage the government on dialogue to address their alleged grievances.

The word of caution from Rev Lusekelo follows statements by Chadema leaders on the so- called "Countrywide Defiance Day" next month, which has been banned by the government, with President John Magufuli warning of stern action against those who will take part.

The top-flight preacher as well urged Tanzanians to give more time to President Magufuli to carry out his duties, observing that it would be unfair to gauge his performance after just nine months since he assumed office.

Appearing on a television programme on Monday, Rev Lusekelo noted with concerns how he had tried to contact CHADEMA leaders to shelve the planned demos which have been outlawed by the government in vain.

"There is no alternative to peace that we currently enjoy as a country and we should not allow members of political parties to throw the country into turmoil," Rev Lusekelo of the GRC Church at Ubungo Kibangu in Dar es Salaam stated.

He added: "Registered political parties have less than six million people and yet the country's population is roughly 50 million people. We should not allow the small fraction of the populace to disturb peace and tranquility."

He expressed fears that the country will be thrown into violence if the opposition party sticks to the banned protests, recalling the ugly scenes from Zanzibar in 2001 when supporters of Civic United Front (CUF) took to the streets despite the government's ban on protests.

"There is nothing as dangerous as internal conflicts pitting members of political parties and armed forces," he noted. If political parties are aggrieved by the government's decision, they should use available avenues for dialogue such as the Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD) rather than going to the streets, which could lead to bloodshed, he pointed out.

Rev Lusekelo revealed during the 'Mada Moto' programme on Channel Ten that he had tried to contact some CHADEMA leaders to advise them against the demos but none of them would return his calls, describing them as 'big-headed.'

The preacher urged Tanzanians to rally behind President Magufuli who is currently working to unite the country after the hotly-contested general election last year.

"Dr Magufuli has been in office for just nine months and we will be unfair to draw conclusion on his performance at this moment, Dr Magufuli should be given more time before we can point out failings in his administration," the preacher remarked.

He commended President Magufuli for remarkable achievements during the first few months in office, particularly on his anti-corruption crusade and curbing misuse of public funds. "The God has given us a kind of a leader we wanted; one who has shown that he values the welfare of all people.

We should give him at least three years before we start pointing weaknesses of his presidency," Rev Lusekelo explained. On the other hand, the cleric proposed that former presidents in Tanzania should pull out of their respective political parties upon retirement to remain "fountains of wisdom" for the country. "The Late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was the guiding light for the nation; but since his death, we lack such a personality.

It is high time former presidents pulled out of their political parties. This will give them unprejudiced authority to take over from Nyerere's footpath", Rev Lusekelo suggested.

The evangelist reasoned that since presidents serve all Tanzanians regardless of their political affiliations, they would be in a better position to advise and guide the nation on maintenance of peace and security upon their retirement.

Source: Tanzania Daily News