News Alert: Tundu Lissu: Why I am running for the presidency of the United Republic of Tanzania


Verified Member
Apr 13, 2013

Fellow Countrymen and Women;

Fellow Citizens of the United Republic of Tanzania, at home and in the Diaspora;

Fellow leaders, members and supporters of Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA); and

Friends of the United Republic of Tanzania and neighbours within the East African Community, the Southern African Development Community and from around the World generally.

As part of a longstanding custom, every last Sunday of October in every five years, we the citizens of the United Republic of Tanzania go to the polls to vote for and elect our leaders and representatives. That time has now arrived, and the General Elections are with us again. For on 25th October 2020, the last Sunday of that month, many millions of us will flock to polling stations around the Country to perform this democratic ritual and renew our quinquennial vows as citizens.

As I have often intimated in the past, and in compliance with the relevant party guidelines, I am now honoured to announce that I have formally submitted my intention to run for the position of the President of the United Republic during this year’s General Elections on a CHADEMA platform. It behoves me to explain, albeit briefly, what has driven me to present myself for nomination as the candidate of our party in the forthcoming presidential contest.


In the five years which will end in October, our Country has been under the iron-fisted rule of President John Pombe Magufuli and his Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party. During these five years, President Magufuli has brought the country to the brink of economic, social, political and diplomatic disaster. Our Country is, therefore, on a crossroads and, whichever way it goes, this year’s General Elections will be the most consequential in our history.


The President has disregarded the economic realities of our country and of the world in which we live. He has run the economy through State House orders and edicts issued at impromptu political meetings. Using elements of the armed forces, the intelligence services and the Tanzania Revenue Authority, the President has launched a vicious war on the private sector, seizing bank accounts and other assets of private businesses both local and foreign. Even peasant farmers have not been spared. Last year the security forces went on a rampage to seize and confiscate tens of thousands of tons of cashew crops from peasant farmers in the southern regions of Tanzania.

To procure the funds to finance his pet infrastructure projects, President Magufuli’s administration has imposed extortionate taxes on every businessperson, from the smallest proprietor to the biggest magnate, irrespective of the state of their businesses or their earnings. These extortionate taxes have been collected with shocking brutality. Business owners have been blackmailed into paying exorbitant sums of money as back taxes at the pain of being arrested and imprisoned under the country’s draconian economic crimes laws.

Those unable to pay up or who resist this Mafia-style shakedown have faced arrest and imprisonment without bail in the country’s notorious maximum-security prisons; or they have had their assets seized and forfeited to the Government. Some, like the former Chairman of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) have died after lengthy spells in terrible conditions in prison.

The outcome of this economic warfare on the private sector is clear to all. The economy is on life-support; many businesspeople and investors have fled Tanzania with their capital, shifting not only their operations, but also jobs and tax revenues to safer havens in neighbouring countries. Inevitably, Government takings from taxes have plummeted. Unemployment and consequent impoverishment, particularly of our most active labour force, the youth, and the most vulnerable, the women, has skyrocketed. Today the economic plight of our people is far worse than at any time before President Magufuli assumed office in 2015.

This year’s General Elections will decide whether President Magufuli gets another five years to continue his destruction of our national economy and impoverishment of our people, or whether we will get a fresh beginning by removing him and his party from office.


Since 1984, our Country has had a Bill of Rights enshrined in our Constitution and setting out the fundamental rights and freedoms and responsibilities of our people. In the five years of his Administration, President Magufuli, using his security forces and intelligence apparatus, has torn to shreds the whole system for the legal and constitutional protection of human rights and the rule of law.

Once a haven of peace in a troubled region, Tanzania ya Magufuli has become a land of horrors. Of unremitting sorrow and tears of widows, orphans and those crippled, physically and psychologically, by the violence of the Magufuli Government. Disappearances, abductions, torture and persecution of Government critics through trumped up sedition charges or economic crimes. Extra-judicial killings of the opponents of the Government and the ruling party. These have been the norm.

No one has been spared. Political leaders, like Alfons Mawazo, the CHADEMA Regional Chairman for Geita, hacked to death with machetes in broad daylight and dumped by the roadside. Or Simon Kanguye, the CCM Councillor and Kakonko District Council Chairman, snatched by security operatives in his office and disappeared without trace. Bloggers and journalists, like Ben Saanane, the Personal Assistant to the CHADEMA National Chairman, abducted on his way home never to be seen again. Or the journalist Azory Gwanda, taken from his home by security officers and disappeared.

Artists, like the hip hop musicians Roma Mkatoliki or Ney wa Mitego, abducted and disappeared before being released after days of torture in the security services torture chambers. Or Mo Dewji, the billionaire businessman, snatched outside a gym and disappeared for ten days, before being dumped a few hundred metres from the State House in Dar es Salaam. Or students, like Aquilina Aquiline, shot dead by police officers on her way to college. The list of the victims is endlessly and painfully long.

The use of the paramilitary security forces against the civilian population exercising their democratic rights has been extensive. Impunity has reigned supreme as members of the security forces who have participated in these killings, abductions and torture of our innocent citizens have gone scot free. That I make this announcement in the loneliness of a European exile, not in the bosom of the land of my birth bears witness to the horrors that have visited our country these past five years.

This year’s General Elections will determine whether the people of Tanzania are sick and tired of this Government-orchestrated oppression, humiliation and violence to their person or property; or whether they will continue to live for five more years under the intolerable yoke of this tyranny. The General Elections will also decide whether the widows, orphans and the physically and emotionally crippled of this regime will get a Comforter-In-Chief; or whether their current Tormentor-In-Chief will get another five year license to cause more pain and create more victims.


Since Tanzania became a multiparty democracy in 1992, the democratic system has taken root and prospered, as evidenced by the returns in the various multiparty elections conducted during this period. Nevertheless, since assuming office, President Magufuli has declared an open war against multiparty democracy in Tanzania. The President himself declared on national television, on the 39th anniversary of his party CCM in February of 2016, that he would see to it that there are no opposition parties by this election year.

We have all borne witness to the ruthless implementation of the President’s pledge to turn back the clock of history by bludgeoning the country back to the dark days of single party rule. President Magufuli’s security forces and intelligence services have waged an unrelenting struggle against the leaders, activists and members of the opposition parties, particularly CHADEMA and ACT-Wazalendo in Zanzibar. As a result of this vicious war on the legitimate opposition, the fate of multiparty democracy in Tanzania hangs in the balance. This year’s General Elections will decide whether President Magufuli will bring his dangerous dreams of a single party Tanzania to fruition, or whether the multiparty democracy shall endure and prosper in our Country.


The history of our country’s Parliament since Independence is not a particularly proud one. Except for the first few years after Independence and the ten years ending in 2015, our Parliament has largely been what an eminent scholar described as ‘an empty shell with little power and even less a forum for public debate, scrutiny and criticism.’ For the greater part of this time, it has been deaf mute and blind to the demands for rights and to the defence of the interests of the people of Tanzania it ostensibly represented.

Our Parliament began to regain its voice and power following the reintroduction of multiparty system in 1992 and, especially, after the first multiparty general elections in 1995. It has grown apace ever since, particularly during the ten years of President Jakaya Kikwete’s Government. It is to the great credit of the former presidents of a multiparty Tanzania, especially President Kikwete, that under their watch our Parliament came of age and became a truly representative organ of the people with matching power, authority and prestige.

It is also to the great honour and credit of the Speakers of the Parliament of that time, the late Samuel J. Sitta and Mama Anna S. Makinda, that under their enlightened leadership, our Bunge regained the voice to speak out against the iniquities of those in power. It found the ears to hear the desperate cries of the oppressed. It got the eyes to see the ugly face of impunity; and the teeth to bite those who abused their public trust.

In Tanzania ya Magufuli, our Parliament, under the compromised leadership of Speaker Job Yustino Ndugai, has been subverted and made subservient to the needs of the tyranny. Again, the parallels with the Bunge of the era of party supremacy between 1965 and 1985 are striking. The October 2020 General Elections will determine whether we return to the era of an assertive and truly independent Parliament, or whether we will have five more years of Parliament that has lost its way and become an appendage of the government it is meant to oversee.


President Magufuli has also attacked the independence and impartiality of our Judiciary in a manner unprecedented in our entire history. He has publicly attacked, excoriated and humiliated the judges and justices of our superior courts. He has unceremoniously and unconstitutionally removed others from their tenured offices. He has interfered with their independence, directing them on how to judge criminal cases involving the victims of his misguided economic warfare, and promising monetary rewards and promotions to judges and magistrates who do his bidding.

Predictably, the outcome of these practices has been a weakened and subservient Judiciary at the beck and call of the Imperial President. Rather than a bulwark ‘to protect the weak against the oppression or tyranny of the strong and the ruthless’, as one of our greatest Chief Justices said, our Judiciary has become an instrument for the oppression of the weak by this ruthless tyranny. Rather than ensure that democracy in our Country grows and our people enjoy the freedoms guaranteed to them by the Constitution, our Courts have become part of the dagger that is poised on the heart of our democracy and our fundamental rights and freedoms.

These General Elections must decide whether we will continue to have a compromised Judiciary that is used as an instrument of terror and oppression, or whether we shall have a Judiciary that is truly independent and impartial which is worthy of a multiparty democracy and a free people.


The President of any Country is also that Country’s number one diplomat. He or she must have an impeccable understanding of world affairs and global political, economic and social trends. A President must not only be able to run the affairs of his or her Country competently, he or she must also be able to hold his or her own on the international diplomatic stage. He or she must, therefore, be knowledgeable of the regional, continental and world affairs as well as the major global trends.

From the earliest years of our Independence, Tanzania was well-known for its international diplomacy. We made steady friends and development partners on both sides of the Cold War. We built solidarity and close relations with our East African neighbours. We were on the frontline of the liberation struggles to end colonialism and racism in Southern Africa. And we became the standard bearers of the solidarity of the peoples and nations of the South, and advocates of the North – South Cooperation.

Our country and its leaders enjoyed worldwide renown and respect of the peoples and governments of the world, North and South. We understood and respected the World and the World understood and respected us. Because we were good citizens of the World, we reaped the immense benefits that always flow from being responsible members of the international community.

Since coming to office in 2015, President Magufuli has behaved as if the world owes our country a living. As a consequence of this misguided thinking, he has antagonized us from our long-term friends and development partners. He has estranged us from our closest neighbours within the East African Community. He has driven a wedge between us and our historic comrades-in-arms of the Southern African Development Community, whose freedom and independence we paid for with our blood and treasure.

He has cast doubt on our legitimate place in the hallowed pantheon of the founders of the African Union, and its forerunner the Organisation of African Unity. He has put us at odds with international organizations such as the United Nations system; and has cost our country its longstanding friends from the European Union, Scandinavian countries, North America and all across the World.

In a word, our President has transformed Tanzania from a beacon of hope and anchor of stability in a troubled region, to an international pariah. Our country and its leaders have now become subject of regular condemnations in the Councils of the World and in the international press for our deplorable human rights record and malpractices in a variety of areas. Countries that assisted our development objectives in the past are now imposing sanctions and other forms of punishment for the irresponsible actions of our rulers.

That Tanzania should be ‘locked out’ by our partners and neighbours in the East African Community; that the leaders of SADC should also ‘lock out’ their Chairman President Magufuli during their recent extraordinary summit on COVID-19, is testimony to the diplomatic depths we have fallen into under his watch. Our Country has become what I described two and a half years ago as ‘a Skunk of the World.’

Rather than stepping back from the brink of international isolation by reconsidering his ways, President Magufuli and his government have defiantly pressed on; insulting our long-term friends and development partners with such unedifying epithets as ‘imperialists’, and expelling or harassing their diplomatic representatives in Tanzania. This year’s General Elections will answer the question whether our country can survive alone in the vast sea of international relations by continuing to ignore the global norms of international good behaviour; or whether we will recognize that the world can very well do without us, unless we mend our ways and return to the international fold.


In 1978 Mwalimu Nyerere, our first President, stated, in an interview with the BBC, that he had sufficient powers, under the Constitution and the laws of Tanzania, to be a dictator. The Constitution that the Father of the Nation referred to in that interview, is the current Constitution of the United Republic, enacted in 1977, during the heyday of the single party supremacy and its attendant authoritarianism. And while the draconian laws that Mwalimu spoke of are still in our statute books, many more have been added in the years since, to create the vast arsenal of the legal and extra-legal despotism that currently weighs down our collective necks as a nation.

After five years of his iron-fisted rule, President Magufuli has taught us an unforgettable lesson on the importance and the urgent necessity for a new democratic Constitution founded on justice, equality and humanity. This year’s General Elections is a crucial test of whether we have learnt this great lesson of oppressive rule and are no longer prepared to live under a Constitution and laws that make dictators of our elected leaders.


  • If elected your President, I will immediately return to the drawing board for a new Constitution for our Country. I will take the Warioba Commission Report on the new Constitution as the starting point for giving our Country a new democratic Constitution that it deserves. Our fundamental economic and social problems cannot be solved if we do not solve the fundamental political problems embodied in the current Constitution which transforms the President and his appointees into demi-gods;
  • If you give me the honour to lead you, I will develop a sensible economic policy which will put the Government where it rightfully belongs: as the regulator of the private sector-led economy, protector of the consumers and guarantor of the general welfare of the people;
  • If you trust me with the mantle to be your Chief of Government, I will put an end to the tyranny, repression and impunity through repeal of all oppressive laws. I will undertake comprehensive reform of the law enforcement and paramilitary security agencies to make them protectors of people’s rights and freedoms, rather than instruments for their oppression by those in power. My presidency will restore fundamental human rights and freedoms and the rule of law;
  • If you elect me your Head of State, I will not run away, or hide, at the first whiff of danger, or when disaster strikes our land. Rather, I will seek to be the Comforter-In-Chief; provide solace to the victims of any calamity and empathize with their plight;
  • Unlike what we have currently, if elected President, I will foster, secure and protect multiparty democracy by removing all the constitutional, legal and institutional impediments to the exercise of democratic rights and freedoms by our people in their individual as well as collective capacities.
  • My Presidency will restore our Bunge as co-equal but independent arm of our Government by removing all the political, constitutional, legal and institutional constraints that have historically prevented it from being an organ for the effective oversight of the Government and true representation of the people it is meant to be;
  • If elected to the highest office in the land, I will restore judicial independence and impartiality. I will remove all impediments, direct or indirect, that have prevented out Judiciary from being the protector of constitutionalism and rule of law; and defender of fundamental rights and freedoms;
  • I firmly believe that our Country cannot survive on its own in the world. That we need the world more than the world needs us. As your President and Chief Diplomat, therefore, I will restore our country’s regional, continental and international diplomacy and repair the damage done to our international reputation by the five years of this misguided isolationism. I will recover our place of leadership amongst our East African Community neighbours; mend fences with our SADC comrades-in-arms and regain our rightful place in the African Union.

The great Mahatma Gandhi said: ‘An eye for an eye will make us all blind.’ Just as two wrongs do not make one right, and two lies never spelt the truth, I believe that revenge will not solve any of the fundamental problems of abuse of power and oppression that our people have suffered from during this period. Revenge is the sword of the weak-kneed, not the shield of the strong-hearted. My Presidency will therefore not seek revenge for the many wrongs committed against the people and against me and my party colleagues these past five years. Rather than avenge them, my Presidency will strive for national reconciliation based on the principles of truth, amnesty and restitution to the victims.


I intend to provide a detailed clarification of these and many other questions of importance to our Country and to us as a people in the days and weeks ahead; and during the campaign itself if I should be trusted and honoured to be CHADEMA’s standard bearer in the forthcoming contest. It behoves me to say at this stage that I consider myself eminently qualified to meet the many challenges facing our Country from the immense position of President of the United Republic.

For over two decades, I have been in the forefront of the struggle for rights in Tanzania. Even before I entered Parliament in 2010, I had already distinguished myself as an activist in the fight for land and resource rights of Tanzania’s rural communities. As a trained lawyer I led the legal defence of community land rights in the goldfields of North-West Tanzania, providing pro bono legal representation to communities made homeless by mining companies.

Twice elected to Parliament, I served as the Opposition Chief Whip and led the democratic struggles in Parliament and in the Constituent Assembly during the aborted constitution-making process between 2011 and 2014. I also served as the elected President of the Tanganyika Law Society, the National Bar Association of Mainland Tanzania, until my tenure was violently cut short by hired assassins on 7th September 2017.

In a professional and political career spanning over two decades, I have visited almost every Region and District of Tanzania. So, I have an intimate knowledge of Tanzania and its people and their hopes and fears as well as their vast potentials. I am also widely travelled, having lived, studied and worked in Africa, Europe and North America. I will therefore bring to the Presidency not only an intimate and sympathetic understanding of Tanzania and its people, but also a keen knowledge of the world and of global affairs and our country’s place in it.

I have known pain and adversity. I have seen, up close and personal, what hate, prejudice and fear can do. I know what injustice is when I see it. I know what it means to be arrested, falsely charged and jailed for non-existent crimes. I have seen it all too often, not only as a defence lawyer defending the many hundreds of innocent victims of this unjust system, but also as a victim myself.

But I have also known and benefitted from the priceless humanity, selfless love and immense generosity of our people and of the many peoples of the World. As I begin this perilous but exciting new journey to confront President Magufuli and his bloody record in the October showdown and beyond, these are the experiences that will keep me honest and humble.

Last, but not least, I am also physically and mentally fit not only for the rigours of the hard campaign in the weeks and months ahead, but also for the immense challenges of government as President of the United Republic should you, the people and my party, give me your trust. I may not be able to walk or run as I used to before September 7, but after more than two years of the best medical care I could get anywhere, my doctors have now declared me fit for purpose.


I know and understand that some of you have legitimate fears about my legal qualifications to stand as a presidential candidate in the forthcoming General Elections. This is due to Speaker Ndugai’s decision to strip me of my parliamentary seat in June of last year. I intend to address this issue more fully and thoroughly in the days and weeks ahead, should the need to do so arise. Suffice it to say that, in my entire career as a public leader, I have never been complained against, investigated, enquired into, found guilty or punished by the Ethics Tribunal for breaching any provision of the Public Leaders Code of Ethics.

Likewise, I have never been charged with, convicted of or punished for any offence that will disqualify me from contesting any elective office in the United Republic. Furthermore, under our Constitution and the provisions of the Public Leadership Code of Ethics Act, it is the Ethics Tribunal, presided over by a Judge, that has the exclusive power and jurisdiction to enquire into, find guilty and penalize any public leader for any violation of the Public Leaders Code of Ethics. That law makes elaborate provisions for holding such public enquiries where the public leader complained against is afforded a full and fair hearing before the Ethics Tribunal reaches its considered decision. No such enquiry has ever been carried out against me.

Speaker Ndugai is the Speaker of the National Assembly of the United Republic. His eminent position notwithstanding, he is not the Ethics Tribunal or a member thereof. Therefore, his decision to unseat me as a Member of Parliament does not disqualify me at all from standing for election to the office of the President of the United Republic.

So, Fellow Citizens, as we navigate this treacherous chapter in our Country’s history, I ask you all to join me in this challenging but exciting journey in the weeks and months ahead. Let us all join hands:

  • To bind and heal the deep wounds of our Nation;
  • To take care of the widows and the orphans and the many maimed of these five years;
  • To wipe off the tears and cast away the fears of these terrible years;
  • To free the captives of this regime, bring justice, peace and prosperity for all and set our Nation on the road to greatness again; and
  • To bridge the chasms that divide our Nation; and
  • To build our Nation and deliver our working people – the peasants, workers, businesspeople, the machinga, mama lishe, unemployed youth, and men and women of the United Republic - from the oppression, fear, poverty and hopelessness imposed on them all by Tanzania ya Magufuli.
As the great Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela said at his inaugural speech as President of democratic, non-racial South Africa on 10th May, 1994: “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.” These words are relevant to Tanzania today.

I thank you all for your patience and may God bless you all.

Tundu A.M. Lissu (MP)

Tienen, Belgium

8th June 2020


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