Tanzania: Rally Banned Because of ‘Shortage’ of Police Officers

The Police Force in Coast Region has banned a political rally which was expected to be attended by Chadema national leaders including former Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye.

Initially, the police had allowed Chadema leaders in the region to hold the rally at Miembe Saba grounds yesterday afternoon. According to regional Chadema chairman Baraka Mwago, the police allowed the party hold the rally but banned demos as well as bodaboda procession. But in due course, the police banned the entire rally, stating that there weren't enough police officers to protect national leaders who would be attending the planned rally.

The Citizen saw a letter signed by Chalinze Officer Commanding District (OCD) Janet Magomi allowing the party to hold the rally which was expected to start at 2pm.

However, Coast Regional Police Commander Bonaventura Mushongi told The Citizen that police banned the rally because some of the lined-up speakers weren't from Coast Region.

"Yes, it's true that we have banned the rally because, first, Chadema has neither councillors nor MPs in Coast Region and second, because we don't have enough officers to protect Chadema national leaders who would have been here to address the crowd during the rally," said Mr Mushongi.

However, Mr Mwago dismissed the reasons given by the RPC. According to him, the rally was aimed at introducing members who were recently elected party leaders for Mkuranga District.

"Mr Sumaye is a member of Chadema Central Committee and he lives in Kiluvya," said Mr Mwago. According to him, more than 200 people were expected to attend the rally.

In another development, Chadema youth wing urged the police to treat the Opposition the same way it treats the ruling party.

Briefing reporters yesterday, Bavicha chairperson Patrobas Katambi said the police should get prepared to maintain peace and security during their demonstrations and ignore misleading statements from different leaders.

"Neither RCs nor the President is above the law," he said, insisting that the police should not base their orders on who says what but on what the law dictates.

"No leader has come from nowhere, they have been elected lawfully and they rule lawfully," said Mr Katambi.

He also added that Bavicha won't be cowered because the directive to stage nationwide demonstrations came from Chadema through its trusted leaders.

Mr Katambi further criticised Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda's approval to the police on blocking demonstrations branded Ukuta.

Last week, the RC ordered the Field Force Unit (FFU) to act, and shouldn't wait for instructions from higher authorities over blocking Ukuta rallies. The Bavicha chairman said Mr Makonda's order implied that police don't act according to the country's laws.

According to the RC, statements by the President are one of the things he swore to obey and heed. He said he would neither allow nor accept demonstrations in his area of jurisdiction.

Mr Katambi added that Mr Makonda and his fellow RCs countrywide who banned Chadema's demonstrations had overstepped their powers.

However, he noted, preparations for their demonstrations and rallies were underway as agreed, despite the threats.

Responding to the President's statement in Singida to the effect that the Opposition shouldn't test his patience, Mr Katambi said operation Ukuta wasn't meant to test the Head of State but rather, it was meant to help him to rule democratically.

According to Mr Katambi, the statements by CCM cadres were supposed to be uttered by the Registrar of Political Parties (RPP), not by them.

According to the law, only the RPP can approve or reject a party's plan to stage a rally.

He added that only an OCD has the mandate to speak on security matters whether or not a rally should be held or a demonstration should be staged, but not an RC.

Mr Katambi said further that acting against the law, a behaviour that makes CCM leaders usurp powers and responsibilities of pillars of State, including Parliament and the Judiciary.

"Many Chadema members and leaders have been arrested, including me, but when we ask what our crimes are, they just say, 'it's instructions from above...who is above?" Mr Katambi queried

He also wondered why some Chadema leaders were blocked from attending Tundu Lisu's case at Kisutu Court on Tuesday last week.

Source: The Citizen