By Prudence Minayo
Tundu Lissu is a Tanzanian lawyer and the opposition party leader. This is a man who has shown extreme bravery and has never been afraid to speak against the government.
This is a man who despite being sprayed by 38 bullets and being hit by some, lived to tell the tale. While most people would shy away from being too vocal after this incident, it only made Lissu bolder and has never stopped him from giving his views.
On 16th March, news of the death of Tanzanian president made headlines. According to the government, he succumbed having battled a heart illness for close to a decade. Instead of accepting the government’s remarks, Tundu stepped out to criticize them for lying to the world. He said he had expected it from the first day and he even tweeted on March 7 asking where the president was and his health status. He did this because apparently he had received information from credible sources that the president was gravely ill with Covid-19. Lissu went on to say,
“The news to me has not come as a surprise at all, the only thing that surprised me is the fact that they continue to lie even now that he is dead,” said Tundu in a Thursday morning interview.
Tundu Antiphas Mughwai Lissu was born on 10th January 1968 in Ikungi district, Singida.
The politician attended Ilboru Secondary School in Arusha. He then studied law at Britain’s University of Warwick.
After leaving Warwick with his law degree, Lissu went back to Tanzania where he has made a name for himself as a lawyer and a politician.
He began his career in public interest advocacy. He worked with the Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT) and the World Resources Institute as a lawyer and worked on various land rights issues with regards to protected area and mining.
In 2010, he officially joined politics as the Member of Parliament for Singida East. He traces his political roots back to the intense debates of the 1970s.
“ I’m a child of Ujamaa, of Mwalimu Nyerere’s socialism. What it meant to me personally was to see our village destroyed in 1974 by the government…,” said Tundu partly in a past interview.
After joining politics, his popularity grew and he became a fierce opposition leader. He often criticized the government on a number of issues and has been arrested severally due to his remarks about the government.
The politician is known for speaking against the government and the late Pombe Magufuli. In 2017 alone, he was arrested six times for insulting the president, disturbing public order among other allegations. He had also revealed to the public that a plane bought for the country’s national carrier Air Tanzania had been impounded in Canada over unpaid government debts.
The same year, 2017, an attempt was made on his life. On 7th September 2015, he was attacked by two gunmen after leaving Parliament. His car was sprayed with bullets and he was hit 16 times. The lawyer was airlifted to Agha Khan Hospital, Nairobi Kenya before being moved to Belgium.
This changed his life as he had to travel with an armored vehicle and look out for his security.
Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) chose him as their presidential aspirant and in 2020, he faced off Magufuli in the general elections. The late President Magufuli won the elections receiving 84% of the votes, the biggest margin since the advent of multi-party politics in 1995.
In the aftermath of the elections, Tundu fled Tanzania and later revealed to The Africa Report that he had received death threats. He went further to state that the election was a gigantic fraud.
To date, Lissu remains one of the most vocal opposition leader in Tanzania.