Chadema, the leading opposition party, and NCCR-Mageuzi have announced intention not to attend the meeting, to be officiated by President Samia Suluhu Hassan and expected to be closed by Zanzibar President Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi.
The meeting will explore ways to stem differences between the regulatory authorities and political parties, where democracy stakeholders forming the Political Parties Consultation Forum which has organised the meeting.
Apart from political parties, human rights advocacy groups are key stakeholders, with other spheres of membership including clerics, public institutions and the media, while prominent individuals who have held responsible positions are regularly invited.
ACT-Wazalendo deputy publicity secretary Janeth Rithe said that the party will fully participate at the meeting “aimed at discussing challenges of our democracy.”
“The decision to participate is a result of wide consultation within the party structures and outside the party including consultations with elders like ex-premier Joseph Sinde Warioba who urged us to participate," she said.
“We as a party are fundamentally in favor of dialogue in resolving our challenges. In the last six years our democracy has passed through very difficult times in which civic space was curtailed, elections processes rigged, political parties weakened and fundamental freedoms suppressed,” she declared.
“We're attending the meeting in order to tell the authorities face to face that we want a reverse back to a thriving democracy similar to the situation before the 2015l general elections,” she affirmed, elaborating that the party will demand constitutional reforms, enactment of a new law on elections and complete overhaul of the procedure for registration of political parties.
ACT Wazalendo will also demand for enactment of new rules governing operations of the police force, she said, underlining that the party will use the opportunity to engage the authorities on the issue of allied political leader Freeman Mbowe and demand his unconditional release.
“Following the review of the one year of participation in the Government of National Unity in Zanzibar that our party conducted with the President of Zanzibar recently and the honest discussions we had, we believe there is goodwill for our country to go back to its path of democracy which was cut short post 2015.”
“ACT Wazalendo has decided to lead from the front and pave the way for a country that is democratic, stable and cohesive as we are doing for Zanzibar,” she further declared, intoning that the party considers the stakeholders’ meeting a first step towards a full and inclusive political dialogue that is needed in the country.
Meanwhile, Chadema reaffirmed that its refusal to attend the meeting, rescheduled after an earlier meeting was scuttled, slated for October 21-23.
Secretary General John Mnyika said the decision to boycott the meeting is tied to the party’s dissatisfaction with the state of political freedom in the country. This includes holding in remand prison of the party chairman, Freeman Mbowe, plus cases facing other party members and supporters.
He said the party had outlined significant demands prior to the first attempt to hold the consultations which have until now not been addressed.
Resolving the disputes would create an atmosphere of dialogue thus enabling all political parties to amicably participate in the meeting, he added.