Tanzanian Opposition Leader Arrested for Inflammatory Speech

Updated on
  • Zitto Kabwe complained about state of economy on Oct. 29
  • Lawmaker detained by authorities for second time in two months

Tanzanian police arrested the leader of the opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency after he gave a speech about the current state of the country’s economy.

The authorities detained Zitto Kabwe on Tuesday and he’s currently being questioned about the speech he made on Oct. 29 in Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital, Abdallah Khamis, the ACT’s spokesman, said by phone. The party’s lawyers are trying to establish specific reasons for the arrest, he said.

Kabwe’s speech covered issues including “the quality of life of Tanzanians, the state of the economy and how to defeat the ruling party,” Khamis said.

President John Magufuli has cracked down on opposition to his administration and closed several newspapers since he came to power in November 2015, stoking fears that the space for political dissent in sub-Saharan Africa’s sixth-biggest economy is shrinking. Kabwe has been arrested at least twice this year in a series of detentions of opposition figures who have become more vocal in their criticism of the president.

On Monday, Lazaro Nyalandu, a Chama Cha Mapinduzi lawmaker since 2000, quit the ruling party and said he plans to join the opposition Chama Cha Demokrasia Na Maendeleo because of what he described as Tanzania’s deteriorating political situation. He cited reports of human-rights violations and a lack of separation of powers between the government, parliament and the judiciary as reasons for his decision.

Chadema’s chief whip, Tundu Lissu, was arrested in July for allegedly calling Magufuli a dictator. He was shot in September by unidentified gunmen and was airlifted to a hospital in neighboring Kenya.

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