Tanzania’s opposition leader who was shot 16 times and had 22 surgeries opens up about gay rights in Tanzania and challenging Magufuli

Tundu Lissu
  • Tanzania is governed by one of the Africa’s most controversial leaders: President John Magufuli, otherwise known as the 'Bulldozer'.
  • Tindu Lissu survived the ‘assassination attempt’ and since rejoined the fight against Magufuli, a ruler he describes as a petty dictator and a skunk that the world needs to isolate.
  • In September 2017, the European Union expressed concerns over allegations of human rights violations in Tanzania, citing arbitrary arrests of rights activists, journalists, bloggers and Members of Parliament.

Tanzania is one of Africa's fastest growing nations economically and demographically. The East African nation is governed by one of the Africa’s most controversial leaders: President John Magufuli, otherwise known as the 'Bulldozer'.

One of Magufuli’s controversial utterances revolves around school girls and homosexuality.

In 2017, while speaking at a public rally in Chalinze town, about 100km west of the main city Dar es Salaam, Mr. Magufuli said schoolgirls who get pregnant will not be allowed back to school.

“Ukishapata mimba ni Kwaheri Translated: (After getting pregnant, you are done.)'" he said.

In September 2017, the European Union expressed concerns over allegations of human rights violations in Tanzania, citing arbitrary arrests of rights activists, journalists, bloggers and Members of Parliament.

Rights groups including Amnesty International have also protested recent calls by local politicians for homosexuality to be outlawed.

Tundu Lissu is one of Tanzania’s leading opposition leaders and a fierce critic of President Magufuli, at least he was, until gunmen sprayed his car with bullets in 2017. He was shot multiple times and left for dead.

Lissu survived the ‘assassination attempt’ and is currently undergoing treatment in Belgium. He recently made an appearance on BBC’s HARDtalk show hosted by Stephen Sackur.

I am very well compared to what I was14 months ago, I was shot multiple times I was shot 16 times to be exact and those bullets that sprayed the car I am told were 38 and 22 surgery later and here I am,” he said.

Mr, Lissu has since rejoined the fight against Magufuli, a ruler he describes as a petty dictator and a skunk that the world needs to isolate.

Among the issues Mr, Lissu criticized Magufuli was his ‘infamous remarks’ on pregnant school schools.

We are on record that the issue of pregnant school girls continuing with their education it’s a government policy, it’s Magufuli’s own government policy, it’s in their own party manifesto and documents, it’s part of our laws so for the President to stand up and say we will no longer educate school girls because they are pregnant is going not only against the law but also going against the stated party policy of his own party,” he said.

When asked about gay rights in Tanzania, Mr. Lissu said Magufuli’s government is not only wrong but unlawful to try and attempt to monitor and control people’s sexuality.

Every individual is entitled to their privacy, we should never allow the government to start pipping into people’s bedrooms,"

"If they violate and I think they violet the right to privacy that is protected by the constitution then those laws are definitely unconstitutional by the constitution of Tanzania I am not talking about any other constitution, our constitution says these are private matters and should remain private matters,”

Asked whether he will challenge President Magufuli in 2020, Mr. Lissu said he was more than ready.

“My treatment is still ongoing but I have stated clearly that when the doctors declare me fit to go I will go to Tanzania, I am not in exile I am in Belgium because I was shot 16 times and doctors have had to operate on me 22 times,” he said.

As for specific security and safety guarantee before going home, the opposition leader said he will return home once he is fit to do so.

“I will go back to Tanzania when I am fully fit and the president and his government will have to tell the world whether returning home to Tanzania I will be protected by the government as I should, the government has a responsibility to make sure I am safe, I am still the member of parliament I will go back to continue the work I was chosen to do and as for being in the ballot box if the people if the members of my party believe that I am the correct candidate to face President Magufuli in 2020 I am more than ready to do so,” said Lissu.

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