Ever since he returned to Tanzania three weeks, opposition presidential candidate Tundu Lissu has been confronted by one obstacle or threat after another.
The day he landed at Dar es Salaam international airport, the police attempted to block any media or groups from gathering to welcome him. It didn’t work. Unknown persons firebombed the CHADEMA campaign offices in Arusha the night before his arrival, while his motorcade was attacked and stoned by organised cadres.
But have these tactics of intimidation worked to discourage him?
“I may be battered and bruised,” says Lissu, who survived 16 gunshots in an assassination attempt in 2017, “but I am still standing.”
Speaking in a podcast interview with me (our international law firm is proud to represent Tundu), Mr. Lissu explains that President John Magufuli doesn’t actually command the genuine support and trust of many in the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party. Instead, the president rules through fear, Lissu says.
“I don’t think he is popular. He is feared. The guy is rough, vicious, and therefore what you see across the spectrum of Tanzanian society, people live in fear, they don’t talk openly,” says Mr. Lissu. “People have seen the kind of violence from the state that is totally out of tune with our entire history – we’ve never seen this kind of repression. So it’s fear. It’s not love, it is not popularity. It is pure fear.”
Lissu indicates out that on August 25th he will be presenting his nomination papers along with the duly required 2,000 signatures to the National Electoral Commission. However, there is significant risk that the government may attempt to block the nomination process, given the president’s past statements on the matter and the handpicked officials he has put in place at NEC to control the process.