By Prosper Makene
The government of Tanzania has urged its citizens who fled the country to return home, saying that the country is safe.
“I urged all citizens who fled the country for the security matters and living abroad as refugees to return home, the nation is safe,” Minister for Home Affairs, Hamad Masauni told the Parliament in Dodoma’s capital city on Tuesday.
Masauni pointed out that the talks between the government and political parties are going well in ensuring that all Tanzanians in exile are coming back home.
Among the prominent politicians who fled the country including the heavyweight opposition figure Tundu Lissu who is currently in Belgium and former lawmaker for Arusha Godbless Lema who went to Canada as a refugee with his family.
However, in February this year, the Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan met top opposition figure Tundu Lissu in Belgium which was suggested as a good step for Lissu to return home from self-imposed exile.
A fierce critic of former Tanzania President John Magufuli and his government, Lissu fled into exile in 2017 after being shot and wounded by unidentified gunmen in the administrative capital Dodoma.
However, President Samia, who took over after Magufuli’s death in March last year, has pursued measures to improve Tanzania’s human rights record including lifting bans on media outlets imposed under his predecessor.
Lissu, who is vice president of the main opposition Chadema party, was arrested eight times in the year leading up to the shooting attack in 2017 and was charged with incitement, among other alleged offences.
He spent three years in exile before returning in July 2020 to participate in that year’s presidential elections, losing to Magufuli. Lissu rejected the outcome, alleging widespread vote rigging.
He again went abroad in November 2020 after complaining of death threats and has since been in exile in Belgium.