Tanzania: intelligence insights on the meeting on Wednesday in Belgium between President Samia Suluhu and exiled opposition leader Tundu Lissu

    Bottom line up front

    • Today's High Court ruling on ongoing case against major opposition party Chadema's chairmain Freeman Mbowe is seen as a litmus test for effectiveness of the meeting in Brussel on Wednesday between President Samia and exiled Chadema VP Tundu Lissu.
    • Despite maintaining tough stance in public against President Samia, Lissu had privately been seeking to have a meeting with her, which has led some to question his honesty.
    • Outcomes of the meeting - some could take months if not years to be realised -could make or break Lissu's political life as suspicions are rife withing his party that neither President Samia not her ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), could be trusted.
    • Recent Chadema's informal marriage with "wanaharakati wa mtandaoni" (e-activists), which has essentially seen the party becoming more radical and activist-like entity, could be critical in either supporting or opposing Lissu's "good intentions" in meeting President Samia, and patience required to realise the meeting's outcomes.
    • Happening in EU capital, the meeting could not only win make President Samia win many hearts among the East African's nation's major development partners but also be seen as yet another departure from President Samia's deceased predecessor John Magufuli authoritarian rule which remains primary suspect in failed attempt against Lissu's life in September 2017

    What happened?

    On Wednesday, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan met with exiled opposition leader Tundu Lissu in Brussels, Belgium where the former is on state visit.

    How did the meeting happen?

    According to a statement released by the President's Communications Director Zuhura Yunus, Lissu had requested to meet with the East African nations's head of state.

    Sources indicate that there had been a number of secret channels of communications between the two parties, and President Samia's visit to Belgium, where Lissu is exiled, was perfect timing for the meeting to eventually materialise.

    What was discussed in the meeting?

    While there has been no word from President Samia on what was discussed during the meeting, apart from the statement released by Yunus, Lissu held a zoom meeting to explain what told the President.

    Any reactions?

    Ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM)'s supporters hugely applauded President Samia, who is also also their national chairman, for her exemplary leadership skills.

    However, they also mocked Lissu for his previous criticism of Zitto Kabwe, main opposition ACT-Wazalendo's Chief Leader, who had in number of occassions pleaded with the President to bring the ongoing terror and economic sabotage case against Chadema's Chairman Freeman Mbowe.

    From US ambassador to Tanzania

    Some condemned President Samia's aides for releasing a video clip which showed Lissu being body scanned prior to the meeting, a necessary security procedure but there was no need to share it in public.

    What's next?

    A lot depends on President Samia's commitment to democratic and social justice reforms in the East African nation. When she took the office in March 19, 2021, she vowed to bring all Tanzanians together, indirectly acknowledging that there were wounds to be healed.

    Her goodwill is the key because if her predecessor escaped any serious action from the country's donors/development partners despite series of human rights abuse and overt hostility towards major opposition parties.

    As for Lissu, he would have to tread on a tricky line between meeting his expectations of his fellow Chadema members, most of whom harbour deep distrust of both President Samia and her ruling party CCM, and remaining a committed partner to the head of the state, which would be essential for his requests to her to turn to fruition, most likely over a long period of time.


    While much remains to be done, the meeting between the two leaders gives glimpse of hope of the future of Tanzania under President Samia who is going to mark her one year in the office tomorrow next month.


    Uchambuzi wa Kiintelijensia Kuhusu Mkutano Baina ya Mama Samia na Tundu Lissu Nchini Ubelgiji Hapo Jana
    Jana, Februari 16 ya mwaka huu 2022, itaingia kwenye kumbukumbu za historia ya Tanzania baada ya Rais Samia Suluhu Hassan kukutana na Makamu Mwenyekiti wa Chadema, Tundu Lissu, mjini Brussels, Ubelgiji, ambako Mama Samia yupo kwenye ziara ya kikazi.
    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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