Supporters of the opposition in Tanzania are reacting in different ways to the virtual collapse of the main opposition party in parliament – the National Convention for Construction and Reform (NCCR-Mageuzi) – and the seeming inevitability of a continuation for the foreseeable future of rule by the Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), which has been in power for over thirty years. Some NCCR supporters believe that the official leader of their party – former Deputy Prime Minister Augustine Mrema – who remains widely popular, is the only person in the country who can rid Tanzania of corruption and, as one of them said to TA “we will support Mrema to the bitter end”. Other NCCR supporters are so disillusioned by what has been happening in the party (TA Nos. 57-60) that they do not know what to do as they cannot see any other opposition group on the horizon with the power to challenge the CCM. Many supporters have lost hope altogether and say that they will not bother to vote in the next elections in the year 2000.

Several of the other opposition political parties are also in trouble and in by-election after by-election stubbornly refuse to cooperate in order to give at least one the chance of defeating the monolithic CCM. The CHADEMA party has lost its founding fathers Edwin Mtei and Brown Ngwilulupi due to ill health. The UDP, whose leader in parliament, John Cheyo, is proving effective in challenging the CCM on financial issues, remains a regional party with most of its support in Mwanza and Shinyanga regions. The leading opposition party in Zanzibar has 18 of its leaders in jail (see below) and is showing the first signs of internal discord.

And now the government has decided to discontinue payment of subsidies to political parties, which might mean the end for the weaker ones. Only two of Tanzania’s 13 parties (the NCCR and CUF) have properly accounted for funds received so far. All the parties lack clear policies and ideology and Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Nyerere, recently criticised his own CCM party for not having produced a new ideology since the days of socialist rule. Even so, CCM now looks impregnable as it prepares for the next general elections in the year 2000.

The most recent event to shock NCCR’S divided supporters was an outburst by Mrema in Parliament in which he accused the government of threatening to kill him and also to kill the leading opposition personality in Zanzibar, Seif Sharrif Hamad of the CUF party and of being responsible for the death of former Director of Intelligence General Imran Kombe (who was, according to the trial judge, killed by two policemen who disregarded instructions from their superior not to fire – see TA Nos. 56-59).

Many of Mrema’s supporters believe these accusations to be true but his fellow MP’s clearly do not. Parliamentary Speaker Pius Msekwa responded to Mrema’s allegations by giving him five days to substantiate his claims. Some MP’s referred to what they described as Mrema’s erratic behaviour. Mrema then presented a report to parliament in which he stated that he had heard about a meeting at which the alleged killings were being planned; he produced newspaper cuttings and a CCM circular. Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye urged parliament to take punitive action as Mrema had been telling lies. Mrema then pleaded for a lenient punishment as he was a first offender and had a wife and a score of children who would suffer if he were severely punished. MP’s voted unanimously to reject his evidence as a complete fabrication. He was suspended from the House for 40 days – the whole of the remainder of the budget session. Only two of his 19 NCCR MP’s spoke up in his favour but some other opposition leaders criticised the punishment as being too severe. The leadership in Mrema’s Temeke (Dar es Salaam) constituency party were said to have told him to desist from bringing his constituents into his quarrel with parliament; the Swahili paper ‘Nipashe’ said that he had been told that they did not send him to parliament to ‘explode bombs about assassination plots’. Mrema’s next move was to appeal to the High Court for a temporary injunction against the 40-day suspension but this was unsuccessful. Judge Eustace Katiti said that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the petition.

On August 6 Mrema set off for Dodoma where he had been summoned to appear before the Parliamentary Immunities, Powers and Privileges Committee over various public statements he had made after he had been suspended from parliament.

Meanwhile the other NCCR faction led by the ‘official’ Secretary General, Mabere Marando, was said to be issuing its own membership cards. These were illegal however because not sanctioned by the party’s divided National Executive Committee.

In a related development the Government owned ‘Daily News’ (May 15) launched a strong attack in its main editorial column on the Delegate of the European Commission in Tanzania who was reported to have told Reuters that in Tanzania ‘the executive has far too strong a hold on power and that is why there is so much economic mismanagement’. The paper commented: ‘In other words his prescription for better management is a weak executive. What mandate does he have to prescribe a weak government? Would it be wrong to deduce that the mandate he thinks he has is the aid we receive from his principals? The Delegate was also quoted as saying that there was far too much power in the hands of one party – the CCM – and that the Tanzanian constitution needed to be changed. He thought that Tanzanians were tackling it too late before the next elections’.

The editorial went on: ‘The only conclusion we can is that the European Union did not want CCM to win the 1995 elections. Is hid view not derisive of the 61.8% of the people who voted for the CCM candidate for president and the 80% of CCM candidates elected to parliament?’ The Delegate was also said to have said that Tanzania could not expect aid programmes to continue without political progress. The editorial commented: If this is his idea of political progress then it is pure blackmail or, at the very least, arm-twisting of the worst kind….. Tanzanians put a higher premium on their political independence than on money’.

Jenerali Ulimwengu, writing in the new Dar es Salaam daily ‘the African’ went further. He praised a recent speech by Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete in which the Minister had attacked diplomats and donors for meddling in Tanzania’s internal affairs (‘that is how a responsible government should behave, as a fearless master of its country … ‘). Donors were complaining about corruption (they were right to do so) and also the lack of human rights. But, he went on: ‘What right does a government have to take money from the taxpayers of another (donor) nation, dispose of it in a corrupt manner and then plead national sovereignty when it is required to account for it?’ And on human rights he wrote: ‘Do we expect the world to look on in silence as people are harassed, beaten up and imprisoned in part of the country without plausible cause?’ He criticised donors for the selectivity of their criticism (‘they don’t criticise Saudi Arabia, Kuwait etc.’); Tanzania should ‘get rid of donors, make them irrelevant, redundant; it should learn to be humble, shun ostentation (‘I do not know of any single government in the world which buys as many Land Cruisers, Nissan Patrols, Discoveries, Range Rovers as our government’), live within its means and save in order to invest’.

In a vigorous response in the Daily News (May 28) to a critical letter written to the Editor of the Dar es Salaam ‘Express’, President Mkapa listed his government’s successes since he took over in 1995. The letter had accused the President of being isolationist and keeping foreign investors out, of privatisation of parastatal enterprises being too slow, an atmosphere of gloom in the market, Tanzania’s international image low, and of there having been no real achievements to the government’s credit. ‘The people I meet say that you do not care’ the letter said.

The President, in a comprehensive reply, wrote about the 974 new development projects since 1991, (50% owned by foreigners), a 100% increase in revenue collection, inflation down from 29.8% to l3.2% (April 1998) and an increase in the minimum wage from Shs 5,000 to Shs 17,500. Since the privatisation exercise had began in 1992, the President wrote, 108 enterprises had been divested, 61 declared bankrupt, 14 closed, 23 leased and 7 had entered into performance agreements. – a total of 213 out of the then 387 public enterprises. He added that the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange was now operating and that the major public utilities – power, water, telecommunications, the ports and the petroleum industry were scheduled for privatisation in part or in whole, as well as the two major banks. Because of the improved fiscal and monetary performance and improving debt servicing, Tanzania was now respected in the international financial world. Loans and bilateral grants had increased from Shs 80 billion in 1995/96 to Shs 324 billion this year. Tourist revenues were up from $258 million in 1995 to an unprecedented $392 million last year. GDP had increased by 52%, exports by 20%, foreign reserves by 93%; the exchange rate had stabilised.

This statement of economic success received considerable support in a 12-page section on Tanzania in the June-July issue of ‘Business Africa’ under the heading ‘Moving in the Right Direction’. Writers spoke of the tight monetary policy, strict budgetary discipline, the liberalised trade regime, improved tax administration, increased debt servicing and rationalisation of tariffs. Another article was optimistic about the prospects for the new Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange and the positive results to be seen in the economy especially in the banking and financial sectors. Tanzania’s vast mineral wealth was ‘on the brink of a boom’ and the privatisation of parastatal organisations was described as ‘a great bonanza’.

In a surprising move on May 27 the High Court, in a 120-page ruling, removed from his seat Minister for Labour and Youth Development and MP for Bukoba Rural, Sebastian Kinyondo. High Court Registrar Daniel Safari also banned Kinyondo from standing for Parliament for the next ten years and required him to pay all costs of the case. The petition had been brought by CHADEMA party candidate Dr Medard Matungi, who had got 10,116 votes in the election compared with 42,169 for Kinyondo. The court found that most of the allegations made were true. There had been bribing of the Returning Officer and Kinyondo was said to have used defamatory statements about Matungi throughout the campaign.

Dr William Shija the Minister for Industries and Trade and CCM MP for Sengerema in the Shinyanga Region has also been unseated following a petition to the court by the defeated UDP candidate. The judgement took nine hours to read. Some 17,000 voters had not been able to vote because of lack of ballot papers. President Mkapa appointed acting ministers in their stead.

Sebastian Kinyondo is appealing against the verdict but William Shija has decided not to and to fight again in the byelection scheduled for October 4.

On April 3 the High Court nullified the election of the MP for Kishapu, Tabora for various irregularities. On June 14 the Appeals Court rejected an appeal by the Attorney General against the unseating of the MP but in the subsequent by-election he regained his seat without difficulty:

Kishapu (Sbinyanga Region) by-election result:

Paul Makolo (the previous MP) (CCM) 24,207
Kalungwa Shija (UDP) 8,989
Busein Mwandu (CHADEMA) 1,791
Shilagi Maselle (NCCR-Mageuzi) 1,035
Ramdhani Mwandu (TADEA) 151

A by-election in Singida North held on May 1, following the death of the previous MP, gave the following results:

Candidate Party Votes Votes in 1995 election
Joram Allute CCM 34,393 31,954
Ali Abmed Ali NCCR/Mageuzi 4,449 4,444
Edward Ibonde UDP 1,736
Nyerere Daa UMD 1,047 754
Swalehe Darunga TLP 543 865
YudaMadai TADEA 490
Kidua Mukhandi CUF 476 1,785
NRA 1,243

It is interesting to note that the NCCR candidate retained virtually the whole of his party’s previous vote in spite of the ructions within the party.

The main subject of debate in political quarters in recent weeks has been the government’s response to a demand by the opposition for a new constitution to reflect the multi-party system now in operation. The opposition favours the setting up of a constituent assembly to draw up the new constitution but the government has instead issued a ‘white paper’ allowing for nationwide discussions but insisting that modification of the present constitution is all that is needed. President Mkapa has appointed a 13-person commission under the chairmanship of Justice Robert Kisanga to hear people’s views on a future constitution, during the next six months.

“Despite the several calls I have made, only one person in three years has revealed the names of people suspected of corruption” – President Mkpapa, quoted in the Daily News during the May Day celebrations in Shinyanga. “We leave culprits stealing large sums of public money but we take the law into our own hands in stoning to death young boys suspected of stealing Shs 1,000 (£1)” he said.

One hundred people were charged with corruption last year. Police recovered Shs 2.85 million in 82 incidents.

Assistant Director of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) Sten Rylander has praised the Warioba Report on corruption and described it as one of the best of its kind so far produced in Africa. “But it is only by strong follow-up and real enforcement that a true and respected record of the report can be established” he said. He was concerned about the Independent Power (IPTL) Project and the Rufiji prawn farming deal (TA No. 60) saying that transparency in their transactions had not been up to the level required for a true partnership.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.