Tanzanian opposition leader in exile Tundu Lissu spoke with Christopher Kidanka on mass action and democracy
Inspector General of Police Simon Sirro has said that you can return home and your safety will be guaranteed. He says he will provide protection for you and your family. Are you ready to return?
The IGP cannot be trusted. I already had police protection for the 60 days that I campaigned and it was immediately withdrawn after the election. A day later I received death threats. The two are connected. They removed protection so that I could be hit.
Before I returned to Tanzania in July, I had written to the IGP on my intention to return seven months earlier, in December 2019, and that I needed police protection because those who wanted to kill me are still at large. That letter of December 23 was never responded to. We wrote a reminder in January this year and that too was not responded to.
The IGP is on record saying that I would be arrested upon my arrival. When I said in August 2017 that there were people who were trailing me, the same office dismissed my fears, and a month later I was shot 16 times.
You were protected in the 60 days of campaigns because you were a presidential candidate not because of the previous threats on your life.
I should have been protected because my life was in danger. As a citizen of Tanzania who has survived an assassination attempt by still unknown people, and after specifically requesting protection before returning, I should have been given protection as a matter of right.
Your party, Chadema, lost the election. What is its next move in your political career?
My party did not lose any election to CCM. There was no election. CCM is in power illegitimately. When one door closes, another opens. I will use my time abroad to tell the world the story of Tanzania. To tell the world to punish the criminals in the regime, isolate it diplomatically to target those responsible through targeted sanctions, travel bans and asset seizures.
Saying the government in power is illegitimate is a serious allegation. Do you have credible evidence that can stand in court?
Under the current Tanzanian Constitution, it is not possible to challenge the results of a presidential election. And even if we had evidence, which we have, we cannot challenge the so-called results. We are not Kenya, Uganda or even Malawi. In all those countries it is possible to challenge the results of the presidential election.
We have to find ways of getting democracy back, and that is through popular mass action and international action.
How are you helping those still in Tanzania?
Hundreds of our party leaders and activists are facing criminal charges which have no credibility. It is our duty to help them by making sure their families get the assistance they need to free them.