Tanzania is in the spotlight over alleged kidnappings of critics of the government. According to human rights activists, those kidnapped are tortured and even killed. One of those abducted in the recent past was Mdude Nyagali, an opposition activist. According to AFP, he was snatched by four gunmen and seriously beaten, just hours after he branded President John Magufuli a “hypocrite” in a Twitter post.
In February last year, Chadema opposition party member Daniel John was kidnapped during a political campaign. He was later found dead with machete wounds on his head.
Ben Saanane, a Chadema leader, disappeared two years ago and has never been found. In total, Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition says there have been 17 kidnappings since 2016 of “human rights defenders, journalists, businessmen, politicians and artists”.
This is worrying, coming from a country most Kenyans regard as island of tranquility.
Unsurprisingly, Magufuli’s government has been blamed for the human rights abuses, but has denied any wrongdoing. The government says many of the disappearances are faked.
What is happening in Tanzania is not unfamiliar to Kenyans. It has all the hallmarks of a bloody affront on democracy. Someone is determined to silence government critics. Unless the government convincingly exonerates itself, the finger will remain squarely pointed at it. Who else would want the opposition out of the way?