Things are changing politically in Tanzania just as they are in almost all other African countries. Once famous names have come back into the limelight Fundikira, Kambona, Hamad during recent weeks and new names like Mapalala and Marando, and, dramatically, after his massive election victory, Zambia’s new President Frederick Chiluba, who said, during an official visit to Dar es Salaam: “I am not here on a mission to propagate my country’s style of democracy” .
The pressures on the Presidential Commission on Political Change (Bulletin No 40) whose work is now drawing towards its end, must be very great indeed. There remains a wide divergence of view between those wanting Tanzania to become a multi-party state and those wishing to preserve the one-party status quo. What is more, the advocates of the multi-party system have also begun to show divergences of view amongst themselves.
A ‘Steering Committee for a Seminar on the Course of Transition to Multi-Party Democracy’ had been held in Dar es Salaam on June 10th. It was chaired by Tanzania’s one-time Justice Minister Abdullah Fundikira and included Mr James Mapalala (Vice-Chairman) and Advocate Mabere Marando. Mr Mapalala is said to have been several times detained in the past on account of dissident ideas. The result of the seminar was the formation of a ‘National Committee for Constitutional Reform’ (NCCR).
In August the Dar es Salaam ‘Business Times’ reported that former Foreign Minister Oscar Kambona, who had also been campaigning for a multi-party system, had been trading acrimonious accusations against Chief Fundikira while they had been in America fund raising. Fundikira was said to have told Kambona, who has lived in Britain for many years, that he was out of touch with the current situation in Tanzania.
On September 6th the ‘Business Times’ reported on its front page that 27 people had been arrested for an unlawful demonstration the day before. They were arrested after marching on the Ministry of Home Affairs in support of a new political group entitled ‘Chama Cha Wananchi’ (Party of the People) said to be led by ‘civil rights campaigner ‘James Mapalala. The Minister for Home Affairs was later quoted as saying tha the highly regretted this new situation in which a few people deliberately disobeyed laws and regulations laid down by Parliament. The 27 people, who were held on remand, then apparently went on hunger strike but it is believed that they were subsequently released.
As the great debate on Tanzania’s future constitution continued around the country, Chief Fundikira, who had, in the meantime, been removed as Chairman of the NCCR, decided not to wait for the conclusions of the Presidential Commission and presented, on November 1st, an application for the
registration of a new ‘Union for Multi-Party Democracy (UMD)’.
Next came the announced intention of the National Committee for Constitutional Reform (NCCR) to hold a demonstration in support of the landslide victory of the Zambian Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) in that country’s elections. Immediately afterwards, on November 13th, the Tanzanian Government issued a statement saying that legal action would be taken against anyone participating in illegal demonstrations.
On November 24th Home Affairs Minister Augustine Mrema stated that Messrs Fundikira and Mapalala had been arrested two days earlier but had been released after questioning and search.
The proposed demonstration had been called off in the wake of a warning by Mr Mrema that the government would flex its muscles to repel the illegal gathering. The Mnazi Mmoja grounds, where NCCR Chairman Marando was to have received the demonstrators, had been surrounded by police.
Subsequently it was revealed that Chief Fundikira’s UMD Party wished to take the Inspector General of Police to court for his failure to return the Party’s properties seized earlier after a police search.
On November 22nd former Chief Minister of Zanzibar, Seif Shariff Hamad who had been held on remand in prison for some two years in connection with attendance at illegal meetings, was released on bail of Shs 2.5 million. He complained of having been subjected to psychological rather than physical torture during his time in prison. Information for this article was extracted from the Daily News and Business Times – Editor.
Tanzania ready for multiparty – Mwalimu
Mwalimu Nyerere has stated that Tanzania is ripe for political pluralism and has urged CCM Party leaders to initiate peaceful transition. He told journalists at his Msasani residence in Dar es Salaam that, although the majority of Tanzanians supported the CCM, there was a substantial minority which wanted the constitution changed to allow pluralism. He believed there were serious, patriotic people, some of them inside the CCM, who could form a viable opposition party once permission had been given. However, a sound opposition leadership was yet to emerge, he added Sunday News.
THREE PARTIES NOT THIRTY
As we went to press the Kenya Television Network reported that Mwalimu Nyerere had urged multi-party supporters in Tanzania to form at least three opposition parties but not thirty as had been done in a number of African countries reverting to multi-partyism. Observers were said to believe that Nyerere’s sentiments could lead to quick changes in sections of Tanzania’s electoral laws to usher in multi-party democracy.
On December 23, 1991 a Reuter report from Dar es Salaam stated that President Ali Hassan Mwinyi was facing mounting pressure for political change in Tanzania and was almost certain to legalise opposition parties after the Presidential Commission on Political Change reports in March 1992. The news item quoted a Western diplomat as saying that “They’ve already decided what the answer is and they are now writing the report to fit in with that”. The item went on: ‘The countdown to pluralism has sent the normally complacent CCM party into a frenzy of campaigning activity to recruit members and to raise funds for development projects.