“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”
― John Adams, The Works Of John Adams, Second President Of The United States
It is so disheartening that African leaders often handle opposition with an iron fist.
Every government needs a strong and viable opposition for it to stay in check and continue to be active in delivering the dividend of democracy to the citizens.
African leaders must understand that just because a person has a different opinion from you it does not mean they are wrong. Having an opinion on something doesn’t make it right.
Opposition leaders in Tanzania including the head of the Chadema party have today released a statement accusing President John Magufuli of turning Tanzania into a ‘police state’, where citizens are afraid of expressing their views.
The leader of the Chadema Party, Freeman Mbowe and fellow lawmaker Esther Matiko, who were both jailed for more than three months on the order of the president for questionable reasons, while speaking during a press conference today said:
“This country has become a real police state.
“Fear has gripped the country… people don’t dare speak out, freedom of the press no longer exists.
“The death of the opposition would be a disaster for the country. You cannot build a democracy by beating or silencing your adversary,” said Mbowe.
Mbowe and Matiko were arrested in November after they failed to appear in court twice to face charges over a protest march in February.
In an appeal by the pair, Judge Sam Rumanyika ruled last Thursday that their rights had been violated and ordered their immediate release on bail.
Speaking at the press conference after their release, Mbowe said that in prison, some inmates spent up to two weeks without washing, which led to infectious diseases such as scabies, with prisoners scratching themselves “until blood flows”.
He went on to say that prisoners are so tightly packed into cells that when sleeping, a “group leader” takes charge, clapping his hands so everyone can roll over in unison.
Meanwhile, in the women’s prison, Matiko said the mentally ill were locked up with criminal offenders. She vowed to take up the issue in parliament.
Critics have accused President John Magufuli of unleashing a wave of oppression since his election in 2015, cracking down on opposition figures and the media.
Header Image Credit: Daily Maverick