Who wanted to kill Tundu Lissu?

“He who does not link the past to Lissu’s assasination attack has no heart; he who wants us to believe that the state organs are not involved has no head”

Theories are being peddled around in response to the question – who wanted to kill Lissu? Most, if not all, are based on mere speculations, yet conspiracy theorists draw conclusions. Some people have grabbed the opportunity provided by all these conspiracies and make cases defending the state in the attempted assassination. I will not draw any conclusions, but will provide my interpretation of the crisis.

What was the intention behind the assassination? without mincing words, I believe the attackers main goal is to silence people, specifically critics of the government. Lissu was a man of two trades only, so to speak, namely law and politics. So, any conspiracy that posits the intention as residing beyond his political and perhaps legal role are far-fetched. Recently he has been one of the most vocal critics of the President’s actions, to the extent that when the President warned of what he termed “traitors”, many of us assumed that he was referring to Lissu, amongst others.

In his speech of June 2017, the President warned people like Lissu that their fate is death. The specific words the President used were; “Msaliti anapowasaliti maaskari wanajua wanafanya nini. Huwezi kuwa msaliti na ukasurvive tu”.

Three months down the line more than 30 bullets were directed towards Lissu who has been left badly wounded. My conclusion is that we cannot ignore that the intention is none other than to silence the critics.

Who attacked Lissu then?

Some people have tried to convince us that Tundu Lissu must have been attacked by people who aim to taint the government and President Magufuli specifically. They argue that the attackers are agent provocateurs aimed at causing hatred amongst the population and hence make the President unpopular. They base their argument mainly on the statement President Magufuli issued via his twitter account to condemn the attacks.

I will point these people to the reaction of President Vladimir Putin of Russia when a journalist in his own country, Anna Politkovskaja, was gunned down. Anna was a harsh critic of Putin’s intrusion of Chechnya. She was shot four times as she was entering her apartment building. Fingers were pointed at Putin security establishment. In turn, Putin denied involvement unsurprisingly typical of any dictator. He called it “a horribly cruel crime” and he went on claiming that the killers ‘motive was to besmirch Russia’s reputation. He was quoted on 10th October, 2008 in Dresden Germany: “We have reliable, consistent information that many people who are hiding from Russian justice have been harbourng the idea that they will use somebody as a victim to create a wave of anti-Russian sentiment in the world”. Similar rhetoric can be drawn from social media networks in the country by people who try to absolve the Tanzanian state of responsibility for the attempted assassination by pointing the finger at non-state, including foreign, actors.

That the attackers are rogue elements within the state is a question left largely untouched. One thing that is rather thought provoking and I don’t see it being given due attention is the fact that Advocate Tundu Lissu is a prominent politician. No prominent politician of Tundu Lissu’s caliber isn’t surveilled by state organs. I know I am being followed and tracked so is Mbowe, Maalim Seif, Mansour Yusuf Himid, James Mbatia, Hussein  Bashe,  Nape Nnauye amongst others.

It is ironic that our state security people didn’t know that there is another car tracking Lissu. It is unbelievable that TISS didn’t have intelligence that an Mp was in danger and failed to stop the assassination attempt. It insinuates that is is either of the two: that the gang that attacked Lissu was hired by the state security or they just decided not to stop them.

There are people who try to implicate Lissu’s party in the attempted assassination using the controversial deaths of people like Chacha Wangwe, a former Chadema legislator from Tarime, as an example. In the Chacha Wangwe case the driver was convicted and sentenced, hence the recent attempts to dirty the image of Lissu’s driver and thus draw parallels betweeen the two. In the Lissu case however, there has been no evidence brought forward to implicate his party and it still doesn’t address my earlier point of the role of state security in following and protecting political leaders.

To all these people peddling alternative conspiracies my message is simple: he who does not link the past to Lissu’s assassination attempt has no heart; he who wants us to believe that the state organs are not involved has no head.

Lissu and some of us in the political sphere are challenging the carefully cultivated impression that President Magufuli is presiding  over an era of economic liberation and renewed national pride in control of our natural resources. We believe that President Magufuli is leading our beautiful country to ashes and uses the so-called economic war to hid his frailties in ability and capacity to govern. With that view, Lissu is being seen as a stumbling block and hence must be removed.

The best answer to these heartless attackers is simple, we must continue the role Lissu played and continues to play. We must not be silenced. We must continue to speak our minds, our views and criticize government policies. We can challenge the President and his government while reaffirming our commitment to our beloved country. Loyalty to country does not in any way translate to loyalty to the President and his policies.

We are all Tundu Lissu. Aluta Continua!

By Zitto Kabwe,

Zitto is a Member of Parliament for Kigoma-Ujiji Municipality and Party Leader of Alliance for Change & Transparency Wazalendo.

*This article was part of his submission to Parliamentary Ethics and Immunities Committee on the 21st September, 2017


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