A Joint Declaration by Leaders and Senior Membersof Six Opposition Parties who met in Zanzibar on 16th – 18th December, 2018 to deliberate on the State of Democracy in the United Republic of Tanzania
WE, the leaders and senior members of the undersigned six political parties, have met here in Zanzibar from 16th to 18th December, 2018 in order to reflect, discuss and agree on our common vision for the future of democracy in the United Republic of Tanzania. The historic meeting here in Zanzibar is a reflection of the extent to which the democratic and human rights situation in our country has changed, thereby leading to unprecedented actions on our side in response. Keenly missed during the discussions have been our two colleagues, the Leader of Official Oppostion, Hon. Freeman Mbowe and the Chief Whip of the Opposition in the Union Parliament, Hon. TunduLissu, one of whom is languishing in prison and the other recovering from an assassination attempt. Both of them gave their blessings to this meeting.
WE recognise that Tanzania is facing backsliding of democracy, with all signs pointing to institutionalization of an authoritarian rule that ignores political, social and economic rights of our people. This trend began with the annulment of October 25, 2015 Zanzibar general elections after it became clear that the Civic United Front (CUF) was heading towards a decisive victory. The move was then followed by banning of live coverage of parliamentary proceedings, banning of legitimate political activitites of opposition parties, kidnappings, abductions, and arbitrary arrests of people, notablypolitical leaders and activists, journalists and business people, assassination attempt against our fellow opposition leader and outspoken member of parliament, Hon. Tundu Lissu and absolute refusal of the state to investigate the matter in a purposeful and concrete manner; passing of repressive laws such as the Media Services Act, the Statistics Act, the NGO regulations and the Bill for Political Parties (Amendments) Act.
WE recognise that, despite constitutional protections ofmultiparty system, the state is currently waging an openwar against opposition political parties. It is becoming a norm nowadays to hear state leaders and their supportersbranding opposition politicians and government critics as unpatriotic and that they are “foreign agents” and “imperialist stooges”. The crusade against critics of the regime has spared no one in the country from the media, civil society organisations, farmers, fishermen, pastoralits, the business community, trade unions and workers, faith leaders, the diplomatic corps, women and girls, and even critical CCM members.
WE are saddened by the crumbling state of our economy which affects the vulnerable and the poor in our society. In spite of the attempts by the regime to spin the situation, we feel it is imperative to publicly and openly state that within the space of three years the country has seen the reversal of even the little achievements that were registered in economic performance. The economic meltdown that this regime has brought will take at least a decade before it can recover and begin to provide for our citizens’ economic opportunities as required for by the constitution. The situation is no longer tolerable. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
WE recognise that it is our responsibility as leaders and as citizens of this country to save our country from this state and safeguard our democracy that meets the needs and aspirations of our people.
WE declare that time has come to renew our commitment and strengthen our solidarity in pursuing a national agenda against rising authoritarianism, an agenda that goes beyond individual interests of our parties. This will require courage to withstand the onslaught that we will face from the regime, firmness in our solidarity when attempts will be made to break it, and commitment towards inviting and incorporating other potential allies as equals in this movement.
WE declare that Freeman Mbowe and Esther Matiko,who are currently held in remand prison, are political prisoners and should be released immediately. We will engage in a concerted campaign to ensure that all political prisoners in Tanzania are either released or given access to justice and a free and fair due process of the law.
WE reiterate our stance that the imposed government of Zanzibar is unconstitutional and lacks mandate from the people. The results of the 2015 annulled election was a clear proof that CUF has won all the elections in Zanzibar since 1995 and that they have been prevented from ascending to power through state machinations and reversing of the will of the electorate. Time has come to restore electoral justice in Zanzibar.
WE pronounce that 2019 is a year of reclaiming our democracy and taking back our powers and rights as enshrined within the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, the Constitution of Zanzibar and other enabling pieces of legislation. We will hold public rallies in any and all corners of the United Republic of Tanzania. We will not allow an unconstitutional and unlawful order to restrict us to our individual constituencies. If the government is threatened by us exercising our constitutional rights, we dare them to take us to court.
WE declare that we will unanimously embrace all citizens and all social and economic groups in the country willing to conquer their fears and join the grand coalition that we envisage to defend our democracy. We vow that we will no longer be silenced or intimidated; we will no longer succumb to the state sanctioned violence against our individual and collective rights and entitlements. We commit ourselves to taking this message of freedom to all our fellow leaders, constituents, and allies and support them in taking action, whether small or large, as a symbol of solidarity.
We resolve to form a Joint Committee that, among other things, will work with the likeminded individuals and groups to draw a comprehensive programme to reclaim our democratic and civil rights.
December 18, 2018