As early as 6am, the Bwiru-Kitangiri junction was cordoned off with yellow tapes as police officers armed with guns, teargas, dogs and pepper spray trucks manned the area.
This transpired as news spread that the party’s national chairman Freeman Mbowe was snatched from his hotel room well before daybreak, several hours before the start of the meeting.
A guard at the hotel where Mbowe was booked confirmed to this paper that the vehement leader was indeed taken from the lodge at 2am by people wearing police uniform alongside at least 10 other people.
This reporter also went to the venue where the meeting was to be held and established that party officials had paid a total of 1.5m/- for the conference facility but due to tight security, participants were not able to access it.
The place was neatly decorated with white, blue and red fabric pieces of Chadema colours, with police officers visible in different corners of the hotel.
Officers interrogated anyone who wanted to access the hotel and while some were allowed in, others were turned away.
Asked about Mbowe’s whereabouts, Regional Police Commander Ramadhani Ng'anzi promised that he would release information on the matter later but when contacted again at the end of business he declined to state his whereabouts:
“We enforce the law; all politicians and political parties must follow the laws,” he replied.
In Dar es Salaam, secretary general John Mnyka said the party was not aware of Mbowe’s whereabouts, appealing to the public to “help in the search for him.”
“Up to know we do not know where chairman is and his condition; we bring this matter to you the people so that you take part in searching for him,” he declared.
He said the party’s central committee will hold an emergency meeting today to discuss the disappearance of Mbowe and other members, and decide on the way forward.
It all started at noon on Monday when Mbowe announced at a press conference here that the party was to hold a meeting yesterday to deliberate on the push for a new constitution.
Hours after this proclamation, Regional Commissioner Robert Gabriel declared that all meetings in the region except religious congregations were banned “as a containment measure against Covid-19.”