Court in former capital Dar es Salaam 10 March sentenced eight senior figures of main opposition party Chadema, including its chairman Freeman Mbowe and former Chadema sec gen, now ruling party member Vincent Mashinji, to pay $13,000 fines or serve five-month jail terms, after finding them guilty on several accounts including inciting sedition. Authorities 13 March released Mbowe and seven others after Chadema paid fines. PM Majaliwa 17 March banned public gatherings and political rallies for 30 days in attempt to curb spread of COVID-19. Defence and security officials 11 March met with counterparts from Burundi, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda in Goma, DRC, to assess information exchange mechanisms to help stabilise eastern Congo.
Next year’s elections in Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous Tanzanian archipelago, will be hard fought. With the ruling party changing the rules in its favour, they could turn violent. The islands’ politicians should urgently meet to discuss levelling the playing field and lowering the risk of clashes.
Al-Shabaab remains focused on recapturing power in Somalia, but it continues to plot attacks in Kenya and Tanzania – and perhaps in Uganda as well. To counter the movement, East African states should eschew heavy-handed crackdowns and work instead to reduce its appeal to potential recruits.
Originally published in The East African