CUF, the strongest opposition party because of its strength in Zanzibar, was entitled, after the last election, to four special seats for women -the number being determined by the proportion of elected CUF MP’s in the National Assembly in Dodoma. They were duly nominated by President Mkapa and then insisted on taking up their seats contrary to CUF party policy. CUF MP’s elected from Zanzibar are boycotting National Assembly sessions as part of the party’s protest against how the 2000 general elections in Zanzibar were conducted. The women were then expelled from the party and lost their seats.
As a result of this, the number of all opposition MP’s in the House fell to 18 out of a total of 295 all of whom are CCM. Under Section 11 (4) of parliamentary rules, when the opposition numbers fall below 20 they lose their status and privileges as an official opposition. They can no longer chair parliamentary committees or act as shadow ministers and their leader no longer has a government car. Opposition leaders were indignant and spoke of ‘killing the spirit of democracy’ ‘digging the grave of democracy’ and ‘reverting to a one party state.’
On April 16th the Guardian reported that the High Court in Dar es Salaam had overturned the decision by CUF to cancel the membership of two of its parliamentarians (the others did not take up a case in court) and declared that they were still lawful MPs. The party was ordered to pay costs of the case. CUF said it would appeal. Meanwhile, the number of registered political parties in Tanzania has gone up to 16 following the registration on 18th January of the Forum for Restoration of Democracy (FORD). The party’s national chairman, Ramdhani Mzee said that development came as a result of democracy; in the absence of democracy violence and anarchy would reign.