The Semantics of Freedom and Intolerance: Tanzanian charged with ‘abusing’ president.

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Tanzania has been experiencing a seemingly unstoppable political earthquake ever since   President John Magufuli came to power on 5th November 2015. The president has made it absolutely clear that he would step on many powerful toes in his determination to fight corruption, mismanagement and other social ills in Tanzania. To many, President Magufuli is a living God-sent angel, who will bring sanity to the insane society. Yet, others accuse the president of not only displaying dictatorial and intolerance tendencies, they insist, as well, that President John Magufuli has been just an agent of nepotism and favouritism in his daily practices. Regardless, one thing is very clear: The man named Tinga Tinga (Bulldozer) is not afraid to face challenges or court controversies in the process of discharging his duties as President. It is, therefore, not strange to hear that a prominent opposition politician in Tanzania has been charged with abusing the president. Tundu Lissu of the main opposition Chadema party has been arrested by the police on Thursday after he was accused of showering the president with abusive language on a video widely circulated on social media.

It is alleged that Tundu Lissu called President Magufuli a “dictator“ who makes government appointments based on nepotism and favouritism. Mr. Lissu has been in the police custom ever he was arrested on Thursday. He is due to appear in court on Thursday for the second time after the court refused to grant him bail on Monday.

Tundu Lissu`s lawyer has emphatically denied the allegations against his client, insisting that the allegations levelled against Mr. Lissu are, in fact, unproven as such, must be dismissed unconditionally.

While the legal battle between the government of President Magufuli and opposition Tundu Lissu is going on,   other more serious war, which could make or break Tanzania is going on at the national level. Since John Magufuli became the president and clearly intensified efforts towards bringing sanity in Tanzania through the tackling of corruptions, mismanagement, stealing and other social malaise, opponents have accused him of being increasingly intolerant and autocratic. However, his supporters have rather praised his courageous moves and in fact encouraged him to do more   – including jailing the once Untouchables.

The question is, while trying to fight corruption and bring sanity in Tanzania, has President John Magufuli neglected the rule of law and other democratic principles, necessary for the effective governance? Or are his opponents, who were perhaps once untouchables, castigating the no-nonsense president as a dictator in order to break him politically? Time will tell. However, the one thing is clear: With Tinga Tinga as President, it is clearly no more business as usual in Tanzania.