A joint statement released yesterday, signed by NCCR-Mageuzi national chairman James Mbatia and ACT-Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe said the arrest of Chadema cadres on Wednesday was conducted in contravention with the mother law and legislation on political parties.
“The arrest of the leaders because of a conference that was organized by Chadema is unacceptable in any democratic and just society,” they declared.
Freedom of assembly is guaranteed by article 20 (1) of the 1977 Constitution and section 11 of the Political Parties Act, they stated, asserting on behalf of the two political parties that the police force must “immediately and unconditionally release Chadema members and leaders including Mbowe.”
The two leaders appealed to supporters of democracy to condemn the arrest of the leaders which they said ”eroded efforts being made to achieve national cohesion,” urging the government and top political leaders to sit with the opposition to discuss the best ways of conducting politics without animosity,” the statement intoned, insisting that “it is time for political dialogue.”
A police statement on Thursday said that Mbowe was being held for questioning in relation to suspicions of involvement in ‘terrorism activities and a plot to kill national leaders.’
Chadema officials said Mbowe was snatched from his hotel room in Mwanza post midnight Tuesday, hours before the start of a conference to agitate for a new constitution, with police admitted on Thursday to be holding 15 Chadema cadres arrested early Wednesday.
Regional Police Commander Ramadhani Ng'anzi told reporters that the national chairman was immediately taken to Dar es Salaam for interrogation in relation to a separate criminal investigation.
On Monday, Mbowe announced at a press conference that the party was to hold a conference on Wednesday to deliberate on matters to do with the new constitution.
Hours after Mbowe’s proclamation, Regional Commissioner Robert Gabriel announced the banning all meetings except religious congregations “as a containment measure against Covid-19.”
Heavily armed police closed a section of the road heading to a venue where the agitation conference was to take place with officers questioning all individuals heading to the facility.
As early as 6am, the Bwiru-Kitangiri junction was cordoned off with yellow tape as police officers armed with guns, teargas, dogs and pepper spray trucks manned the area, sealing off chances of the conference taking place.