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Tanzania: ‘People are exercising their freedom of speech’ says Zitto Kabwe

By Abdul Halim, in Dar es Salaam
Posted on Wednesday, 9 June 2021 14:01

Opposition politician Zitto Kabwe, leader of ACT Wazalendo in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania November 2, 2018. REUTERS/Emmanuel Herman

Tanzania's Zitto Kabwe - leader of the opposition party Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT) Wazalendo, who served thrice as member of parliament - speaks to The Africa Report on the fate of the opposition since Samia Suluhu Hassan came into power, rapprochement with Kenya and what Tanzania can do to help Mozambique fight insurgents.

Since Samia Suluhu Hassan took over in March following the death of Tanzania’s President John Magufuli, members of the opposition have been in a more relaxed mood, contrary to what they experienced five years ago during the previous administration.

In an exclusive interview with The Africa Report, Zitto Kabwe – leader of the opposition party ACT Wazalendo, sits down to discuss how life has changed since Magufuli passed on and Hassan took over.

This interview was conducted in English and Kiswahili and has been slightly edited for clarity.

The Africa Report: What has changed for the opposition since Samia Suluhu Hassan came into power?

Zitto Kabwe: To answer this question I need to put it into context. In terms of freedom, the situation has changed. People are exercising their freedom of speech. The media now reports on issues that they were not able to during Magufuli’s time. However, nothing has changed in terms of laws: for example, police chief Simon Sirro is still the head of a law enforcement institution.

He is the same person who was enforcing dictatorial directives from the late Magufuli. Therefore, if he is told to implement them again, he can still do so. For us as political stakeholders, the most important laws such as the Political Parties Act, Media Service Act and Elections Act are still the same. There is some freedom, but there has been no legal change, so anything might happen at any time because bad laws still exist.