DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA - Tanzanian opposition leader Tundu Lissu was chosen this week to take on President John Magufuli in October’s general elections.
Lissu returned to Tanzania from Belgium last week for the first time since 2017, when the Magufuli critic was shot 16 times by unknown gunmen in Dodoma.
Lissu says that since Magufuli came to power in 2015, there has been an open war against the multiparty system and some attempts to turn the country back to the dark years.
Lissu’s supporters say their candidate will win in October because he will offer a leadership style that contrasts with that of Magufuli, whose critics say he suppresses democracy.
Ibrahim Chawe, a member of the Chadema Party and a communication officer for the Chadema youth organization, says the performance of the current government will help Lissu win. The economic policies of the government have hurt many Tanzanians, he says, and benefit only a few.
Magufuli has pledged peaceful and credible elections, and has said he is ready to continue for a second term in order to fulfill his journey of serving Tanzanians and boosting the country’s economy.
Political analysts like Abdul Karimu Atiki say the new roads, railways and power plants that have sprung up under Magufuli give the president a chance to win another term.
For almost three decades since the coming of the multiparty system in Tanzania, there has never been development reaching to the people as there has been under Magufuli, Atiki says, adding that while critics like Lissu say development is meant for people and not material things, it is the infrastructure that is bringing development.
Another political analyst, Mbwana Aliamtu, says Lissu has a good chance in the October polls because of his outstanding presence in Tanzania politics. Even if he does not win, Aliamtu adds, he will bring about big changes.
Magufuli has boosted government revenue and initiated reforms of the mining industry since coming to power in 2015.
His opponents accuse him of cracking down on political dissent and freedom of speech, which he denies.