Tanzania’s ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and main opposition party, Chadema, will hold their first round table meeting in late May, a move that may indicate improved relations between the parties since the late President John Magufuli was in office.< Chadema leader Freeman Mbowe said President Samia Suluhu made a "special request" for the meeting when he invited her to private talks - their second such meeting in just over two months - at the State House on Monday in Dar es Salaam.
She will lead the CCM team as party leader and Mbowe will lead the Chadema delegation, Mr Mbowe said at a Chadema general assembly this week. CCM has not officially commented on this allegation.
Mr Mbowe said the meeting will seek to lay a new foundation for a positive political dialogue between the two parties, “which we believe other opposition parties willingly embrace will participate in it. ”
“During our two-hour discussion in the State House, we agreed that the next meeting, in about a week’s time, should involve not only the two of us, but also proper delegations from both parties, so that we can discuss more in depth what precisely prevents us from understanding each other,” he added.
Questions have been raised about the timing of the Chadema leader’s second private conversation with President Samia on the eve of his party’s first general assembly in two years.< /p>
They first met on March 4, the same day that prosecutors dropped the terrorism charges against Mr Mbowe after a lengthy trial during which he and his three co-defendants were detained for eight months < /p>
Breaking down hurdles
Chadema has maintained his position as the main force behind calls for a new Tanzanian constitution ahead of next general elections in yea r to be adopted in 2025, despite clear indications that the Samia government is opposed.
The party formally distanced itself from a government-backed bipartisan political initiative to oversee democratic reforms in Tanzania after it was ascertained that the initiative is more inclined to push the establishment of an independent electoral commission as a priority over constitutional change.
“All we’re seeing is a strategy to move forward the Katiba-Mpya agenda that our main focus remains,” Mr Mbowe said on March 16.
But Chadema’s resolve seemed to be about to be put to a new test a few days later (on March 21) when a government-approved task Force struck formally proposed, with President Samia’s personal endorsement, that the constitutional review process should be postponed until after the 2025 elections. Mutual invitations to meet the President were considered by many to be a “miracle” as suspicion had been built up over years of splitting the opposition.
“Today, when an opposition leader is seen entering Ikulu (State House). , the presumption is that they have some kind of business interest there,” he noted.
He called on the Chancellor of the political parties to stop trying to incite conflicts between opposition parties in order to reduce them weakening, but instead allowing them space to “pursue politics without interference”.
If clashes between parties should occur, they should be done on their own terms, Mr Mbowe said.
< p>The Chadema General Assembly also confirmed the expulsion of 19 women MPs who were elected to the Tanzanian Parliament as special seat MPs, despite their names not being given by the party according to house rules were confirmed.
The 19 MPs were stripped of their Chadema membership by the party’s central committee in December 2020, but held their seats in the House of Representatives with the support of former Speaker Job Ndugai pending the decision of their nominations by the General Assembly of the Party.
According to Chadema communications chief John Mrema, party secretary general John Mnyika will now write a formal letter informing current House Speaker Tulia Ackson of the final decision and calling for parallel action.
< p>Article 71 of the Constitution of Tanzania states that a MP’s seat becomes vacant when “he or she is no longer a member of the party to which they belonged when elected or appointed to fill the seat.”< /p>