The outspoken opposition leader has told DW he is returning home, three years after surviving an assassination attempt. Lissu plans on running in Tanzania's October presidential elections.
Former Tanzanian Member of Parliament Tundu Lissu has set a date to return home so he can run for president on the Chadema ticket in the upcoming October elections.
Lissu's announcement comes three years after surviving an assassination attempt in which gunmen armed with machine guns sprayed his car with bullets. Lissu was airlifted to hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, and then moved to Belgium — where he still lives — to receive treatment.
Lissu, a human rights and environmental lawyer, is a vocal critic of government corruption and the current president, John Magufuli. He has been arrested several times in the past and still has charges of uttering seditious words against the Tanzanian state authority outstanding against him.
DW: How can you run for presidency while you're still abroad? Are you planning to go back to Tanzania soon?
Tundu Lissu: The simple and quick answer to your question is: yes, I'm returning home and I'm returning home on July 28 this year, less than three weeks from now.
There are quite some sedition cases waiting for you back in Tanzania. Do you think those cases might hinder your presidential ambitions?
It is not sedition to make statements which show that the government is wrong in its actions, in its policies, in its practices. It is not sedition to want to remove the government from power through constitutional means. It is not sedition to criticize the government. It is not sedition to use democratic means to seek to get rid of President John Magufuli.
I have made statements in public which showed that the government was in the wrong. That is not sedition. Even under this terrible law. So I'm not in the least perturbed by the existence of those cases.
When we look at most of the discussions going on in Tanzania, we see that there are so many people who are saying that there is quite some developments going on in the country in terms of infrastructure. And the World Bank recently categorized Tanzania as a middle lower income country. When you look at these achievements of the current president, don't you think that he stands a very good chance to get reelected?
Mwalimu [Julius] Nyerere [who was Tanzania's president for 24 years] built infrastructure projects, the 2,400 km long TAZARA railway from Dar es Salsam to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. He built roads, paved roads.
President [Ali Hassan] Mwinyi built roads, [Benjamin] Mkapa built roads, Jakaya Kikwete built roads.
That did not prevent us from demanding a better, more democratic and more just Tanzania.
So yes, Magufuli has built all these things that he's talking about. That does not justify misrule. That does not justify the exercise of these draconian and very authoritarian policies that he has imposed on the country. That does not justify or legitimize the destruction of our democratic processes.
This interview was conducted by Harrison Mwilima. It has been edited lightly for clarity.