At least 14 members of Tanzania’s leading opposition party Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) appeared in court on Monday charged with seven counts including disobeying lawful order.

The 14 members of the opposition party, including a mayor and three female Members of Parliament, were also charged with assault, destruction of property and using abusive language against members of the public. Appearing before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam were the mayor of Ubungo, Boniface Jacob and three female MPs Halima Mdee, Ester Bulaya, Joyce Kishoa and other members of the party. State Attorneys Renatus Mkude, Mkunde Mshanga and Ester Martin told the court that on March 13, 2020, the accused persons disobeyed an order by a prisons officer to leave premises of Segerea prison on the outskirts of the business capital.

The prosecution further charged that the 14 members of the opposition party also made unlawful assembly near the prison which caused panic among neighbors in the area, adding that the assembly was likely to jeopardize security and peace in the area. The accused persons also damaged a gate to the Segerea prison and torn out a uniform belonging to a prisons officer, charged the prosecution. The accused persons denied the charges and the court granted them bail until April 23 when the case will be mentioned again. On March 11, the same court fined eight CHADEMA leaders, including the party’s chairman Freeman Mbowe and secretary general John Mnyika, a total of 350 million Tanzanian shillings (about 150,000 U.S. dollars) or face five month jail term for each. The leaders who were convicted on seditious and incitement charges were set free after they had paid the fines.

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