Tanzania: A handshake of hope or despair?

Yesterday in Brussels was an unique day after a hostile election and aftermath, which the opposition has been in distress. Where the political parties haven’t been allowed to organize or even being viable. As the state has targeted CHADEMA and ACT-Wazelendo after the elections, which late President Joseph Magaufuli won.

Now, his successor President Samia Suluhu Hassan has met with the main Opposition Presidential Candidate Tundu Lissu who fled for exile after the election in 2020. It was clear to him that there was no relief or chances for a peaceful living after the polls. The Chama Cha Mapundzi (CCM) is overbearing and controlling the political space. Therefore, the ruling regime has it’s hands everywhere. That is obvious and the brutal truth in the United Republic of Tanzania.

The handshake is either a token of hope for reconciliation or creating a false belief of an open space. As the political leaders are talking and the possible negotiations. Since CHADEMA leaders are behind bars and so other political activists too. The state has used the law and the security agencies to target and silence it’s critics. That’s why even the talk of amending or changing the constitution has been deemed as a violation and reason to charge political leaders.

It is not like the era of freedom of speech or liberty to speak is at an all time high. The political parties are monitored, media is muffled and the state has their hands into everything. There is nothing they are not looking into and the political parties cannot operate without a go-sign from the government to have conferences or gatherings. Therefore, the CCM is the paternalistic organization, which deems everyone fit or unfit to whatever they propose.

The handshake and the pictures are a symbol of hope. While the laws, the strict affairs in Tanzania haven’t changed anything. The security agencies and the police will still hassle or go after the ones who dares to challenge the President. That’s why she has even suspended party press, which went out with news that it didn’t deem right.

I’m taking the news with caution. It’s too early to celebrate… when you know how the authorities has gone after dissidents, political leaders and journalists in the recent years. Tundu Lissu knows all of this and he cannot give way yet. If so… his selling the causes early and without proof of changing attitudes.

The laws are still the same and the authorities haven’t lost it’s spark. The President and the CCM needs to extend and olive branch, which it did in Brussels. However, it has to make a significant change in the United Republic to really matter. As there are victims of the political power-play and the usage of law, which isn’t only Freeman Mbowe, but his the symbol of the oppression in the Republic.

President Samia has to prove it now. It’s in her court and she has to open up. That will be painful and has to drop the guards down. However, Lissu shouldn’t sell himself short. Since he has paid the price to stand up against this government.

A handshake should never be enough, but it’s a nice symbol to buy time for possible change. Peace.

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