There’s an at­tempt to cover up truth on at­tack

The Tan­za­nian politi­cian who has been re­cu­per­at­ing at Nairobi Hospi­tal after a gun at­tack in Dodoma in Septem­ber speaks to AGGREY OMBOKI about his health and pol­i­tics

The East African - - NEWS -

How are you do­ing?

I have had sev­eral op­er­a­tions to re­store the use of my arms and legs, and to re­move the bul­let frag­ments from my lower torso, so after a long pe­riod of ill health, I am now firmly on the road to re­cov­ery. Doc­tors are im­pressed with my progress, which they term mirac­u­lous since it has been quite rapid de­spite the ex­tent of my in­juries.

Can you briefly de­scribe the events be­hind the in­ci­dent that led to your hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion?

I had been par­tic­i­pat­ing in par­lia­men­tary pro­ceed­ings dur­ing which we dis­cussed the is­sue of agree­ment be­tween the Malaw­ian and Tan­za­nian gov­ern­ments re­gard­ing the River Songwe.

At around 1pm I headed home which is in a com­pound hous­ing the En­ergy Min­is­ter Dr Medard Kale­mani, the Deputy Speaker of the Na­tional As­sem­bly Dr Tu­lia M Ack­son, t and other se­nior state of­fi­cials. On ar­riv­ing in the park­ing lot which is al­ways guarded by po­lice of­fi­cers, I was at­tacked by two men in a ve­hi­cle with tinted win­dows. They shot at my car. I did not get a clear view of the as­sailants.

Three weeks prior to the at­tack, you had com­plained of be­ing fol­lowed in a car by uniden­ti­fied men, and even men­tioned the reg­is­tra­tion num­ber of the said ve­hi­cle. What is your view about the state’s fail­ure to ar­rest the sus­pects since then?

As a party [Chadema] and fam­ily, we are wor­ried the govern­ment is yet to ar­rest the sus­pects de­spite my public com­plaints about be­ing fol­lowed in a car.

The fact that I was shot in a com­pound where govern­ment of­fi­cials live and up to now CCTV footage is yet to be re­leased from cam­eras in­stalled out­side the En­ergy Min­is­ter’s house, which is one floor be­low mine, points to a de­lib­er­ate at­tempt to cover up the events of that day. From Dr Kale­mani’s house, the cam­eras have a clear view of the park­ing lot, and the lack of that footage is a wor­ry­ing de­vel­op­ment.

Are you say­ing that the Tan­za­nian govern­ment is not in­ter­ested in trac­ing the cul­prits be­hind the at­tack?

It has been more than 70 days since I was at­tacked and no sus­pects have been ar­rested. In ad­di­tion, there have been a num­ber of de­lib­er­ate at­tempts by the po­lice and other state se­cu­rity agen­cies to pre­vent my well-wish­ers and sup­port­ers from vis­it­ing me and do­nat­ing blood to­wards my treat­ment. All these ac­tions point to­wards an at­tempt to cover up the truth.

Pres­i­dent John Magu­fuli could how­ever or­der the po­lice to in­volve in­de­pen­dent in­ter­na­tional in­ves­ti­ga­tors in the mat­ter if he wishes to have the mat­ter re­solved once and for all, and I sin­cerely hope he does so. I ap­pre­ci­ate the visit by Vice Pres­i­dent Su­luhu Has­san and view it as a sign of good­will by the state and a will­ing­ness to en­sure that jus­tice is done.

Have your of­ten con­tro­ver­sial views on the state of gov­er­nance in Tan­za­nia changed since the at­tack?

My re­solve re­mains un­shaken and the Lissu who was ac­tive in pol­i­tics be­fore the Septem­ber 7 at­tack is still very much around. There is a need to fight for democ­racy, the rights of the peo­ple, to en­sure we have a govern­ment that caters for their de­vel­op­ment needs and pro­tects their rights, and I will not re­treat from the strug­gle.

What is your take on the fail­ure by par­lia­ment to cater for your med­i­cal treat­ment and the re­luc­tance of your col­leagues to visit you in hospi­tal?

As a par­lia­men­tar­ian, the law stip­u­lates that my treat­ment be paid for, but this is yet to be done. My col­leagues in­clud­ing the Speaker and clerk of the Na­tional As­sem­bly and the Par­lia­men­tary Ser­vice Committee are yet to visit me. Only two col­leagues came, but in their in­di­vid­ual ca­pac­ity, as they did not have any mes­sage from the committee. I am not ask­ing for char­ity, but the jus­tice that is due to me as a par­lia­men­tar­ian ac­cord­ing to the law.

What do you miss most?

As a prac­tis­ing ad­vo­cate, I miss at­tend­ing court ses­sions to ar­gue my cases be­fore the judges and mag­is­trates, where I can clearly bring out the dif­fer­ence be­tween truth and lies. I also miss play­ing soc­cer.

Will you run for pres­i­dent in the 2020 elec­tions?

This is an is­sue I would rather dis­cuss when I am fi­nally out of the hospi­tal. I will not talk about it from a hospi­tal bed in Nairobi since it re­lates to the Tan­za­nian peo­ple, who de­serve to hear about it on their home soil.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties have lately been hit by a string of de­fec­tions to the rul­ing Chama Cha Mapin­duzi. Do you think this will weaken the op­po­si­tion?

Chadema mem­bers who are leav­ing such as Lau­rence Masha, Pa­troba Katambi and David Ka­fulila, are free to do so, since democ­racy is all about per­sonal choices. Masha was orig­i­nally in CCM and has re­turned. Ka­fulila was ini­tially in Chadema, then went to NCCR, then CCM, then joined Chadema, be­fore go­ing back to CCM. Such flop flops show a lack of prin­ci­ple. I can only wish the de­fec­tors well, but my loy­alty to the cause re­mains stead­fast. Dr Walid Kabur, who was our sec­re­tary gen­eral and Dr Wil­brod Slaa, who served was MP for three terms, are fur­ther ex­am­ples in a long list of de­fec­tors whose de­par­ture has failed to stop the party from gain­ing mil­lions of fol­low­ers since its for­ma­tion in 1992.

These in­di­vid­u­als’ de­par­ture has ac­tu­ally cre­ated space for more prin­ci­pled mem­bers to take their place.

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