Opposition MP Matiko held for ‘unlawful assembly’ in Tarime

10Aug 2018
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Opposition MP Matiko held for ‘unlawful assembly’ in Tarime

POLICE in Tarime District, Mara Region are holding in detention a number of people including Tarime Urban Member of Parliament Esther Matiko (CHADEMA) and a journalist from the Tanzania Daima daily newspaper for their alleged involvement in an unlawful assembly.

Tarime Urban Member of Parliament Esther Matiko (CHADEMA).

The arrests on Wednesday came as hundreds of opposition CHADEMA party supporters protested the cancellation of a campaign rally for the upcoming Turwa ward by-election.

Apart from CHADEMA supporters, also present was the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe, whose party is supporting the CHADEMA candidate in the by-election race.

The journalist who was arrested in the mayhem that ensued after anti-riot police tear-gassed the crowd at the rally is Sitta Tuma, who was nabbed while covering the event.

According to Tarime-Rorya special police zone commander Henry Mwaibambe, the law enforcers were compelled to use force after their earlier warning to the gathering crowd to disperse peacefully was ignored.

Commander Mwaibambe said the Tarime district police had acted on orders from above following the Turwa ward assistant returning officer’s decision to ban CHADEMA from conducting outdoor campaigns for four days until August 11 for allegedly violating the election procedures.

"The police cancelled the rally as per instructions from the electoral commission because the party violated ethical election regulations. The legislator (Matiko) and the 12 other suspects we are holding are being interrogated and once our investigation is complete, they will be arraigned in court for unlawful assembly," Mwaibambe said.

Concerning journalist Tuma, he said the police are treating his arrest like any other police operation as far as the instigating incident is concerned, and refuted criticism especially from within the media fraternity that the scribe was targeted while in the course of doing his job.

According to the zonal police boss, there have been no reported cases of bodily injury or loss of property from forceful police engagement with CHADEMA supporters, who yesterday marched to the Tarime police headquarters to demand the release of both MP and journalist.

CHADEMA regional secretary Chacha Heche said here that efforts to get them released on bail pending the outcome of police investigations proved futile and the party is pondering its next move after consulting its lawyers.

"We had prepared to seek police bail for the MP and others in custody, but unfortunately the police are not willing to offer any bail at the moment… chances will depend on the outcome of ongoing consultations with the party national headquarters," Heche said.

The Turwa ward by-election is scheduled to be conducted next Sunday, pitting CHADEMA aspirant Charles Mnanka up against CCM's Chacha Ghati for the position of ward councillor after former incumbent Zakayo Wangwe’s recent defection from CHADEMA to the ruling party.