Political parties in Tanzania are once again allowed to hold public meetings and rallies as the government removes the ban it introduced in 2016.
The President of Tanzania, Hon. Samia Suluhu Hassan made the announcement on 3rd January 2023 while addressing the leaders of Tanzania’s 19 political parties at a meeting at the State House in Dar es Salaam.
“I am here to declare that the ban on political rallies has been lifted. It is the right of political parties to hold rallies but we all have responsibilities,” President Samia said.
Elaborating on her decision on her Twitter account, she posted: “When I started the leadership of our country, wisdom told me that […] there is a need to make it one thing. In reconciliation, the main platform is the political parties. In December 2021, I created a Multi-Party Democratic Stakeholder Coordination Task Force that worked for 10 months and brought recommendations. One of the most talked about things is the ban on public meetings. Today I have allowed the ban to be removed.”
She also highlighted that in addition to the ban on public meetings, several other laws are on the way to be amended, including that of the Election Commission.
When these changes will be implemented there must be broad participation of political parties who are welcome to criticize and advise the government through public meetings in accordance with existing laws and regulations.
The ban was introduced in 2016 under Tanzania’s late President John Magufuli, restricting politicians to holding assemblies in their respective constituencies only.
However, the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party would hold rallies and other political activities even outside their constituencies without any prohibitions.
According to the international non-governmental organization focused on human rights, Amnesty International, the ban was selectively applied against opposition parties whose leaders have faced intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrest, and prosecution on unfair charges, including, participating in unlawful assembly, holding political rallies against the orders of the President.
Commenting on the lifting of the ban, Roland Ebole, Researcher at Amnesty International for Tanzania and Uganda declared: ” We applaud the decision to lift the blanket ban on political rallies. It is a welcome step in the right direction, and we urge Tanzanian authorities to go further and work towards greater protection of human rights, including by repealing or amending the Political Parties Act to remove all obstacles to rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association, and expression.”
The Act provides for terms, conditions, and procedures for the registration of political parties and for related matters.
Some Tanzanian politicians of the opposition challenged the Political Parties (Amendment) Act of 2019, alleging that it constitutes an unjustified restriction of democracy, good governance, and freedom of association, and violates privacy, rule of law, and the protection of human rights.