POLITICS

by Ben Taylor

Port deal sparks heated controversy

Prof Makame Mbarawa (centre) at the container port area

A new agreement for the management of key port infrastructure in Tanzania has generated intense heat and controversy, threatening to undermine the improved democratic environment that had been emerging under President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

The deal – an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between the Government of Tanzania and the Emirate of Dubai – would potentially see DP World, an Emirati multinational logistics company, take control of the operations of a large part of Dar es Salaam port. Though the agreement was agreed and signed back in 2022, it only came to public attention more recently when the documents were leaked on social media in May 2023.

What does the agreement say?
The controversy stems initially from the apparently highly favourable terms offered to DP World. Critics point to a part of the IGA that they claim offers DP World a 100-year contract to manage the port. They also highlight a lack of opportunities for scrutiny in the process through which the agreement was negotiated and signed, and claim the agreement is in breach of both Tanzanian and international law.

Dr Nshala, former President of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) and now Executive Director of the environmental group Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT), described the controversial deal on social media as equivalent to “selling the country off to foreigners,” pointing out that the decision to sign such a deal constituted “betrayal and treason” against Tanzania.

Mdude Nyagali, of opposition party Chadema, asked “how could our government sign as bad a contract as this?” Mr Nyagali questioned. “It is either they were drunk or bribed.”

Concerns extended well beyond activists and opposition politicians, however. The Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC – the group comprising all Roman Catholic Bishops in Tanzania), rejected the port agreement. Rev. Charles Kitima, secretary general of TEC released a statement saying that the bishops see that most citizens do not want this agreement that gives the foreign investor the authority and right to own major economic infrastructure.

The government, however, defended the agreement. Works and transport minister, Makame Mbarawa, said that by working with DP World, the government expects to increase revenue collection through the port by over 200% in the next ten years, from the current TSh 7.8 trillion per year to TSh 26 trillion in the next decade.

“The potential private sector investment could enhance the competitiveness of Dar es Salaam Port by improving service quality and increasing efficiency,” he said. “It is on those grounds that more business could be drawn to the port, thus boosting revenue and contributing to Tanzania’s overall economic development.”

On why the government chose DP World, Prof Mbarawa said the company was uniquely positioned to partner with the government as it is a global logistics company that able to deliver the required transformation across the entire logistics value chain. “The company has a proven track record of managing, operating and investing in trade infrastructure in Africa for over 20 years to the highest international standards,” he said. “With DP World, we expect to see improvement in the port’s performance. We expect to see the discharge period of vessels being cut to one day from the current four to five.”

President Samia Suluhu Hassan herself has described the deal as a “rare opportunity,” urging Tanzanians to stop “quarrelling” and support her administration’s efforts to transform the country.

Plasduce Mbossa, director general of the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) also defended the specifics of the IGA. He said there was misinformation being spread by those opposed to the plan. “It seems those who brought the 100 years aspect in the subject have their own interests. … It is a complete distortion of facts”. The agreement, he said, merely spells out the areas of cooperation between Tanzania and the emirate of Dubai, adding that this included training, information and communication technology and in the development and improvement of ports in general.

If the agreement is endorsed by Parliament, he explained, it will pave the way for more negotiations between TPA and DP World with regard to implementation of the plan. “No implementation agreements have yet been signed,” he said, adding that they had not even been negotiated.
What the IGA says is that the IGA will cease to operate as soon as any implementation agreement between the Tanzanian authorities and DP World ends. What this means is that actual time for the contract will be known from the agreements that will follow.”

Reactions and counter-reactions. And over-reactions?
It is likely that many on both sides of the public debate – including, frankly, this correspondent – are ill-qualified to reach a sound judgement on the details of the agreement itself. Nevertheless, the debate prompted by the leak of the IGA has stirred up reactions that have led some to question whether the apparent moves by President Samia to re-open democratic space in Tanzania are indeed genuine.

Several prominent critics of the deal have been summoned by the police and/or arrested. This includes the former President of the Tanganyika Law Society Dr. Rugemeleza Nshala, and opposition politician Mdude Nyagali. Another lawyer and critic of the deal, Peter Madeleka, was arrested after the High Court unexpectedly cancelled a previous plea-bargaining agreement relating to a case from 2020. Former Tanzanian Ambassador to Sweden, Dr Wilbroad Slaa, has been arrested and stripped of his title.

The attorney general, Eliezer Feleshi, filed an application to the Advocate’s Committee – Tanzania’s disciplinary institution for lawyers – alleging professional misconduct by another lawyer, Boniface Mwabukasi, because of remarks he made about the deal, seeking a declaration that he had committed “gross professional misconduct” and an order to bar him from practicing law.

The arrest of the critics came shortly after the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Camilius Wambura, warned that police would find and arrest people who have declared nationwide mass demonstrations against the deal (demonstrations that never materialised on any meaningful scale). He described their calls to “bring down the government” before 2025 as “treason,” which “cannot be tolerated.”

At least two dozen people have been arrested since June for opposing the deal, according to Human Rights Watch. Dr Slaa, Adv Mwabukusi, and Mr Nyagali remain in detention at the time of writing. They face various charges, including both sedition and treason. Treason carries a mandatory death penalty and is listed as an unbailable offence under section 148 of the country’s Criminal Procedures Act.

Party politics, democracy and freedom of expression
In early July, CCM’s top leadership discussed and endorsed the deal, resolving to intensify awareness about the importance of the agreement, emphasizing that the deal is as per the CCM’s manifesto. The party secretary general, Daniel Chongolo, has also called on all CCM members and leaders to defend the deal. “This is a CCM initiative, if you see any CCM member anywhere not defending this deal, be sure to doubt his commitment to the party,” he said at a rally in Mbeya.

The opposition, most particularly Chadema, has adopted the port deal as one of its key issues. In July, the party chair announced a new campaign (#OkoaBandariZetu #SaveOurPorts) to run alongside their existing ‘255’ campaign focusing on the new constitution. The party leadership has vowed that this will remain a big issue unless the contract is terminated, “This is a big political agenda for the next twenty years, not just for the 2025 election,” said CHADEMA Vice Chairperson, Tundu Lissu.

The spectre of the 2025 election clearly looms large over the debate, with both opposition parties and President Samia’s opponents within CCM trying to take advantage of the issue. Nevertheless, the heavy-handed actions of the government in general and the police in particular in response to public criticism has alarmed many who had previously thought President Samia’s administration was trying to open up democratic space. After all, what is freedom of expression if it does not include the right to criticise?

“The Tanzanian government’s suppression of its critics is a troubling sign of its low tolerance for dissenting views,” said Oryem Nyeko, Tanzania researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of clamping down on critics, the government should respect the right to freedom of expression and assembly, and listen to them.”

Human rights organisations in Tanzania spoke out against authorities’ decision to detain several people who have been criticising the agreement, condemning the “arbitrary arrests” of the deal’s critics and calling for their “immediate and unconditional” release.

“We firmly believe that every person is entitled to freedom of speech and opinion on everything happening in the country, including on the port deal,” said Anna Henga, Executive Director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), reading a joint statement on behalf of the organisations. “People do not deserve to be threatened for exercising their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, backed by regional and international instruments to which Tanzania is a signatory,” she added.

The government said that those who were condemning the arrest of the critics of the Tanzania-Dubai intergovernmental agreement had failed to differentiate between criticism of the deal and the rule of law.

Nape Nnauye, the Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology, said that no one had been arrested for criticising the deal, but rather they had violated the country’s laws. They had made “specific public threats of a serious criminal nature, which include calling for the violent overthrow of the government of the day,” he said.

“The suspects, some of whom publicly sought to incite citizens to bear arms against the Tanzania Police Force, were apprehended to send a strong message to deter any offenders from committing criminal offences,” Mr Nnauye added. “The arrests do not, in any way, restrict freedom of expression in Tanzania, but are part of the law enforcement to prevent possible social unrest that may result from calls for a rebellion against a democratically-elected government,” he clarified.

Concerns for the state of democracy rose further, however, in early September, when opposition leader Tundu Lissu was himself briefly arrested, along with various aides and security guards, for holding an allegedly unlawful assembly. A party spokesperson said “police entered his [hotel] room by force and took him away without telling where they were going.”

Arusha regional police commander Justine Masejo later said they had detained Lissu and three others for questioning about accusations they were holding an unlawfully assembly and preventing police from doing their job. Lissu was released on bail a few hours later.

Since returning from exile in January (see previous issues of TA), Lissu has been holding political rallies across the country, at which he had voiced criticism of the port agreement. His return from exile followed several moves by President Samia to re-open democratic space, including the lifting a six-year ban on political rallies.

Seeking solutions
Former Controller and Auditor General (CAG) Mussa Assad has tentatively backed the controversial agreement, and had some suggestions for how the issue could be resolved. Prof Assad, currently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the Muslim University of Morogoro (MUM), said Tanzania does not have the luxury to shirk foreign investments and lacks much of what it takes to build a prosperous economy. He said that much of the deal’s criticism is being informed by the lack of general understanding of investment issues and the misreading of the intergovernmental agreement itself.

On the issue of the 100-year time-frame, Prof Assad said agreements between two countries usually do not have a timeframe, adding that the issue would be considered in the project-specific contracts. However, he added, “because people have complained about it, the government can speak to its partners and agree to a specified duration with the IGA so that people can be happy about it,” he said.

He also backed a proposal shared by the leader of the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party, Zitto Kabwe, of forming a company that is jointly-owned by TPA, DP World and Tanzanians through the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange and which will be responsible for the port’s operations.

Prof Assad warned against leaving everything to investors, urging the government to sit down with DP World and agree on a specific period for reviewing each other based on the agreed responsibilities, which could be after every four or five years.

At the start of September, there were possible signs that even the government was looking for a way out. They withdrew proposed modifications to two laws controlling Tanzania’s natural resources that were up for debate in Parliament. Attorney General Eliezer Feleshi said the government had accepted “advice” from a house committee to drop proposed legislative amendments that would appear to remove a potential legal obstacle to the controversial IGA.

Whether this is indeed a sign of compromise, or merely a shift in tactics, remains to be seen.

POLITICS

by Ben Taylor

President Samia Attends Opposition Event

President Samia Hassan and Freeman Mbowe at the BAWACHA event – photo Ikulu


In an unusual move by both sides, President Samia Suluhu Hassan attended an event organised by BAWACHA, the women’s wing of the opposition party, Chadema, in early March. The event was a celebration of International Women’s Day.

At the event, held in Moshi, the President sat next to CHADEMA national chairperson Freeman Mbowe, the person planning to remove Samia’s party from office.

The President described her presence as “unprecedented”, going on to describe Chadema as an ally in building a new culture of politics in Tanzania. “The new way of doing politics won’t be accepted immediately by everyone,” she told the Chadema women, who cheered her every word. “There are hindrances on both sides, mine [within the ruling party, CCM] and yours.”

For President Samia, the occasion signified her commitment to building a new nation after almost seven years of divisive and polarising politics under her predecessor. “For your assurance, reforms are happening that will allow us to build a new nation, a Tanzanian nation with political competition but without violence,” she explained. “That’s where we want to go.”

She revealed that her decision to lift a ban on political rallies (see TA134) was met with scepticism from CCM senior figures when she shared it with them. “I presented the idea,” she said, and “a bitter debate ensued, just like what Mbowe received when he invited me here.”

Much social media attention and argument accompanied Mr Mbowe’s announcement that President Samia would grace a Chadema function, with some describing the move as “colossal”. Recognising this controversy, President Samia told Mr Mbowe: “So, Mr Chairman, it turns out we both have conservatives in our parties.”

President Samia used the occasion to restate her commitment to reviving the stalled constitution-writing process, acknowledging that while she cannot go as fast as some stakeholders would like, the process will commence as soon as practically possible.

“Nobody is saying no to demands for a new Constitution,” she said. “Even my party has said let’s go and revive the process. So, very soon, I’ll form a committee, after consulting other political parties, that will carry it out.”

Speaking earlier during the event, Mr Mbowe drew the Presidents’ attention to how the administrative system in Tanzania has been relegating supporters of opposition parties to the status of second-class citizens, calling for deliberate interventions to change this.

“It is my hope, Madam President,” he said, “that your intention to unify the nation will be adopted by those under you, those in your government, [and] in various institutions responsible for dispensing justice in our country.”

Mbowe told President Samia that “democracy can never be optional” and that “no nation has ever prospered by embracing dictatorship and discrimination.”

He assured Samia that while remaining open to the ongoing reconciliation efforts, Chadema will stand strong in its duty as an opposition party to hold the government accountable for its actions.

Tundu Lissu makes triumphant return with Dar rally

Tundu Lissu on his return to Tanzania

On Wednesday 25th January, 2023, Tundu Lissu made his much awaited return to Tanzania. The former opposition party presidential candidate, with Chadema in 2020, had been living in exile in Belgium for more than five years, since he survived an assassination attempt in September 2017.

Mr Lissu arrived in Tanzania shortly after midday, on a flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He was received by his supporters at the Julius Nyerere International Airport before leading a procession to Temeke grounds where his welcoming rally took place, attended by several thousand.

Mr Lissu thanked his supporters for the reception they accorded him, saying he’s “extremely happy” to be back in “my country.” “Living in exile, being forced to do so because you fear for your life, is the most difficult experience one can go through ever,” he stated in his 30-minute address. “These past six years have been extremely difficult not just for me but also for my family, the party and the country.”

Mr Lissu paused on his way into town to speak with some of his supporters, and later in his speech he recounted what they had said to him. “How come the price of beans is the same as that of meat?” they had asked. “The price of almost everything is up and people are demanding that they should be lowered to allow them to live.”

He then related the people’s concerns with the ongoing demand for a new Constitution, noting that almost all of the people’s problems have their foundation in the current constitution that he called “outdated and poor.”

“It is the President who is causing us all these hardships,” Lissu explained. “This is not because President Samia is evil. No, it is because the constitution we have allows her to decide how to tax us and how to spend those taxes. And it is because of such presidential power, we have been having corrupt presidents.”

Speaking during the rally, Chadema national chairperson Freeman Mbowe underlined Mr Lissu’s call for a new Constitution. However, he said, this will never happen if the people of Dar es Salaam will not stand up and actively participate in the movement, urging Tanzanians to take responsibility in defining the future of their country.

Commission to reform justice sector
President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Tuesday inaugurated a commission to review the public bodies responsible for dispensing criminal justice in Tanzania, with the goal of improving the justice system.

The President had previously announced the formation of the commission against the backdrop of complaints from activists working in the area of criminal justice, who called the system as unfair and discriminatory. The President would appear to share this view, as she described current state of the criminal justice system as “total chaos.” She added that this “is not because we don’t have ethical guidelines in this country but because those guidelines are not being observed.”

“As a consequence, people without power or money rarely get justice in this country,” she said. “They have been forced to endure things no one should endure. Money decides who gets justice and who doesn’t.”

The institutions that will form the subjects of the review include the Tanzania Police Force, the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), the Drug Control and Enforcement Authority (DCEA), the National Prosecutions Services and the Tanzania Prisons Service.

The President urged the commission to pay particular attention to the Police Force, saying that it tops other institutions in terms of complaints from the public. “If you ask 100 people what they consider to be the most problematic institutions in terms of access to justice, 70 of them will point at the Police Force,” she said.

The commission will be chaired by former Chief Justice Mohammed Chande Othman, and will submit a preliminary report by the end of May, 2023.

Other members of the commission include the former Chief Secretary Ambassador Ombeni Sefue, the president of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) Edward Hosea, the former president of the Zanzibar Law Society (ZLS) Yahya Khamisi Hamad, the Attorney General Dr Eliezer Feleshi, the permanent secretary for Public Service Management and Good Governance Dr Laurean Ndumbaro, and two former Inspectors General of the Police (IGP) Said Mwema and Ernest Mangu, along with various others.

US Vice President Kamala Harris visits Tanzania

US Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, escorted by Tanzanian Vice President Philip Mpango


In early March 2023, President Samia Suluhu Hassan hosted a visit from US Vice President Kamala Harris. The visit was billed variously as an opportunity to promote trade and strengthen democracy, as well as strategy to counter the increasing influence of China and Russia in Africa.

Harris started her trip with three days in Ghana before flying to Dar es Salaam, where she met with President Samia. The two leaders spoke to the media before holding private talks.

Vice President Harris applauded the progress made by President Samia on strengthening democracy in Tanzania, describing the President as “a champion of democratic reforms in this country,” and explaining that this had expanded the partnership between the two countries. “Today, then, is part of the strengthening relationship between our countries and, under your leadership, I have full confidence that we will be able to do just that.”

“Madam President, under your leadership Tanzania has taken important and meaningful steps and President Joe Biden and I applaud you,” Harris said, standing alongside Hassan.

Harris announced $560 million in U.S. assistance for Tanzania, some of which will require congressional approval. The money is intended to expand the countries’ trade relationship, as well as encourage democratic governance.

Harris also mentioned a new partnership in 5G technology and cybersecurity, as well as a U.S.-supported plan by LifeZone Metals to open a new processing plant in Tanzania for minerals that go into electric vehicle batteries.

“This project is an important and pioneering model, using innovative and low-emission standards. Importantly, raw minerals will soon be processed in Tanzania, by Tanzanians,” she said, adding that the plant would deliver battery-grade nickel to the United States and the global market from 2026.

President Samia made several requests of her guest, including an expansion of the long-term visa program for Tanzanians in the U.S., a 10-year extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and a future presidential visit.

“Tanzanians are now anxiously waiting for President Joe Biden’s visit in Tanzania,” she said. “And please kindly convey our greetings and our invitation that Tanzania is waiting to host him.”

After the meeting, Vice President Harris visited a memorial to the U.S. Embassy bombing in Tanzania in 1998, the day a simultaneous bombing took place in Kenya. At the memorial, called “Hope Out of Sorrow,” Harris shook hands with staff who were present during the attack in Dar es Salaam, as well as the U.S. ambassador to Tanzania from that time, Charles Stith.

PROGRESS TOWARDS RECONCILIATION

by Ben Taylor

President Samia Suluhu Hassan speaking at the 53rd World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.

Significant progress has been made in recent months towards political reconciliation and the reestablishment of democratic freedoms in Tanzania. In addition to a renewed national conversation around Constitutional reform (see separate article in this edition), a number of meetings have been held between leaders of both the ruling party, CCM, and various opposition parties, and the President has taken steps to reverse a six-year ban on opposition parties holding public rallies. She described this as being part of her strategy of Reconciliation, Resilience, Reforms and Rebuilding the nation, dubbed 4Rs.

The ban on political party rallies was imposed by the late President John Magufuli in 2015 in his first address to Parliament in Dodoma, saying the country should instead focus on national development efforts. Under the policy, elected politicians were allowed to conduct rallies in their constituencies, but other political rallies or demonstrations were banned. It led to frequent confrontations between opposition leaders and the police and repeated arrests of opposition politicians.

On January 3, 2023, during a meeting with leaders from 19 registered political parties, President Samia Suluhu Hassan announced her decision that the ban should no longer apply. “Permission for political meetings will be granted. Our duty as the government is to protect them. Hold your meetings safely, but you have to adhere to the rules and regulations because it is your responsibility too,” she said.

The President recognised that such rallies were legal and acknowledged that political parties have the right to conduct them. She said that the responsibility now remained with the political parties to provide information to the police and other agencies as required by the laws and regulations governing such gatherings.

Opposition party leaders welcomed the announcement a little warily. Chadema national chairman Freeman Mbowe said that they had received the Pres ident’s decision with “great caution” because the right to hold political rallies was guaranteed by the Constitution, and its restoration had been delayed unnecessarily.

“We want to see the implementation of this from the ward to the national level. Democracy should be afforded to the people at all levels. This matter involves many people, including the police,” he said.

ACT-Wazalendo leader, Zitto Kabwe, said President Hassan’s decision would open a new page for democracy, and commended her for “a decision which was not easy to make”. He described 2023 as “the year of political reform, the year of democracy.”

Following the lifting of the ban, opposition parties moved quickly to announce plans for nationwide rallies. The CUF national chairman, Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, held a rally on January 7, 2023 and Chadema is set for their first rally on January 21, 2023.

Police Force spokesperson David Misime said the law enforcers are ready and well organised to manage gatherings that would be held by all political parties in the country. He explained their involvement in the provision of security will largely depend on prior information to hold a meeting as directed by the laws of the country.

“As the Police has promised major operational and disciplinary changes under the leadership of Inspector General of Police (IGP), Camillus Wambura, citizens should expect to see wisdom and prudence exercised in carrying out our duties without affecting the law, peace, stability and unity of our country,” he said.

A senior lecturer at the University of Iringa, Dr Cornelius Simba, commended President Hassan’s decision to lift the ban saying it was exactly what people wanted. He also expects politicians both from the opposition and those of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) to behave sensibly and to be constructive in their criticisms. “When you disagree on a certain issue, then come with an alternative solution,” he recommended.

Prof Martha Qorro, a communication specialist from the University of Dar es Salaam, advised that politicians should consider their words carefully before speaking, as reckless language could be disastrous.

“We are building one society, one nation. Let our politics be decent. Let’s stand together on issues of national interest. I view political parties as institutions that build the country for its development, so no reason to quarrel,” she said.

Further, Constitutional and Legal Affairs Minister, Damas Ndumbaro, said the President had directed that various laws related to political issues be amended. “Fortunately, we have the Law Reforms Commission,” he said, “and I will meet with them on this. All the relevant laws will be worked upon. We have already started with the Political Parties Act,” he said.

Tundu Lissu to return
In a clear sign that opposition leaders have established some trust with the government of President Hassan, the exiled former presidential candidate, Tundu Lissu, has announced plans to return to Tanzania. Lissu, who was shot 16 times in an assassination attempt in 2017 in Dodoma, has spent most of the years since in Belgium.

Mr Lissu used his New Year greetings to inform Tanzanians that he would step on the soil of his country once again on January 25, 2023.

“This has been a long and very difficult period in my personal life and in our life as a party and as a nation,” he said.

The former Singida North MP, Tundu Lissu was evacuated to Kenya, after an assassination attempt in Dodoma in September 2017, and later taken from the Nairobi Hospital to Belgium for further treatment. He had been shot multiple times at his house as he was arriving from a parliamentary session. His assailants have never been apprehended.

In his speech, Mr Lissu noted that whatever happens, this year will be a very important year in the history of Tanzania. “It is a year in which, if we decide with the sincerity of our hearts, we will get a new and democratic constitution, with an independent election system, which cares and protects the rights of the people and which lays a solid foundation for the accountability of our leaders to the people and their representatives,” he said.

He said that President Samia Suluhu Hassan and her party (CCM) plus her government have already publicly promised that they are ready to start the long and difficult journey (to finding a new constitution).

“We are responsible for responding to the President by showing, and demonstrating in action, that we too are ready and prepared for that journey. I personally and our party are ready and prepared for that trip. So I am returning home for the trip,” he explained.

He emphasized that he is coming back for the great work that lies ahead, the work of the new constitution and a new beginning for the nation. “I am returning home to participate in writing the first new page of the ‘365-page book’ for this year 2023.”

“I believe that, with our unity and our love for our country, we will write a good book!”

CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM

by Ben Taylor
President Hassan gives her backing to calls for a new national Constitution
The government’s task force on political reform, formed by President Samia Suluhu Hassan to address concerns that the country’s democratic process had eroded in recent years, has rejected the idea of drafting a new constitution before the next election in 2025.

The taskforce did, however, accept some opposition demands, including to establish the electoral commission as a more independent body and lifting the ban on political rallies.

In its final report delivered to President Samia Suluhu Hassan in October, the taskforce also suggested that the entire constitutional overhaul that has also been a key opposition agenda might still take longer to be sorted out.

Prof Rwekaza Mukandala, the taskforce’s chairman, said the six-month process they had been through of collecting public views had revealed “deep divisions” among Tanzanians over whether to adopt a new constitution or simply amend the current one dating back to 1977. “A good number of interviewees highlighted the costs involved in preparing a fresh Katiba Mpya (new constitution), and others said previous drafts could be used as a starting point even though the last one is already eight years old and was prepared two elections ago,” he said.

The task force proposed a further process of national dialogue to agree on key issues in the current constitution that need to be reviewed or changed, citing the Union structure between Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar as a significant example. The President should then appoint a new panel to use the recommendations from the dialogue to draft another constitution, whether new or based on previous drafts, which will eventually be presented to parliament for endorsement. Prof Mukandala did not give any timelines for this potentially lengthy process to be completed.

Speaking after the task force’s presentation, President Suluhu avoided mentioning the constitution issue directly but noted that the recommendations included such a large number of law changes and new task forces that it could take the government some time to get everything organised. She also said the task force’s proposals, while useful as a whole, should not be construed as “directives to the government”.

Prof Mukandala said the National Electoral Commission should not be answerable to any government agency. Instead, he concluded, an “independent” committee led by the Chief Justice should be formed to vet applications for selection of NEC commissioners. All citizens should be eligible to apply but the committee’s recommendations should still be submitted to the president who will have the final say on the NEC’s actual composition, Prof Mukandala’s team proposed.

The taskforce further proposed that all future NEC decisions, including presidential election results, be allowed to be challenged in court. This would mark a significant change, as currently Tanzania’s presidential election results are legally not challengeable in court once the electoral commission declares them.

On political rallies, it said parties across the spectrum should be allowed to resume both public and internal meetings without hassle, and recommended that the laws governing political party activities and police operations should be amended accordingly.

President Hassan gave her backing to this proposal. “As things stand,” she said, “the current laws give the police leeway to intervene as they see fit. But these are laws that can be fixed quickly. Even we in government will receive credit if political rallies are allowed again,” she said.

Nevertheless, in the event the President acted even without amending the law. In early January 2023 she announced at a meeting with political party leaders from across the political spectrum that “permission for political meetings will be granted; our duty as the government is to protect them. Hold your meetings safely, but you have to adhere to the rules and regulations,” she said.

Speaking at the same event about a possible new constitution, the President said she will soon revive the process that had been stalled for eight years in order to write a constitution that will be in line with the current needs of the nation’s development. “Soon we will form a committee that will include all groups in the community,” she said. “The committee will advise us on what to do and how to get a new constitution for the people.”

At the time of writing, the way forward remains unclear. There is clearly more openness to the idea of a new constitution among the current government than was the case under President Magufuli, but the process has thus far only been discussed in unspecific terms, and it will likely face the same challenges that undermined the previous attempt.

Finding acceptable members to form whatever team or committee or taskforce will be one such challenge. Will it be dominated by politicians, already committed to particular ideas and showing little inclination to compromise? Further, picking any of the previous draft versions of the constitution will be interpreted as a victory for one or other group. It will be very challenging to prevent the battle lines that were previously drawn from quickly being re-established. For a process that is intended to produce a document that unites the country, keeping everyone on board with both the process and the outcome will not be easy.

PRESIDENT HASSAN WRITES A PUBLIC LETTER TO TANZANIANS

by Ben Taylor

President Hassan

President Hassan marks 30 years of multipartyism with a public letter to Tanzanians
To mark the 30-year anniversary of Tanzania’s adoption of multiparty democracy in 1992, President Samia Suluhu Hassan took the unusual step of writing a “letter to Tanzanians”. This was published in several newspapers on July 1st.

Under the title “I am determined to bring about political, economic change”, the President noted that the work of fighting for democracy was not yet complete. She explained that Tanzania was currently facing the same difficulties that existed when the multiparty system was re-introduced. “This is why in my leadership I believe in the so-called 4Rs – Reconciliation, Resiliency, Reforms and Rebuilding,” she said.

“It is important to explain how we entered the system,” she wrote. “President Ali Hassan Mwinyi formed the Judge Francis Nyalali Commission which reported that only 20% of Tanzanians wanted the multiparty system. The wisdom of Mzee Mwinyi and his fellow leaders allowed the minority to hold sway. Had they waited until the majority wanted multiparty politics, we wouldn’t be where we are today. This is one of the biggest lessons for politicians of my generation and for future generations. That as far as national interests are concerned, knowledge and wisdom are more important than numbers.”

“Instead of only hearing one voice and, sometimes, of one person, as we used to say ‘Long live the ideas of the chairman’, now Tanzanians are exposed to various political ideas. Even Chairman Mao once said ‘Let a hundred flowers bloom.’”

This reference to a slogan that Mao himself later rejected in the most vociferous of ways was the first of two references that surprised many observers. The second was perhaps even more startling, though for a different reason:

“In a famous 19th century comic opera called Iolanthe,” she wrote, “the creators Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert said something interesting about the American nation during that time: ‘Everyone born is either a conservative child or a liberal child’.” The President took issue with this view: “I do not believe in such presuppositions.”

Obscure references aside, however, the letter proceeded to set out her bold and democratic ambitions for the country under her leadership. “In building a better Tanzania I aspire to create a society that lives in harmony and understanding. I wish to foster unity regardless of our political, religious or ethnic differences. This will only be possible by creating a society in which everyone enjoys equal rights before the law, where there is no discrimination and where there are equal economic opportunities for all. I believe reconciliation cannot be attained where there is discrimination and where some people are denied economic and civic rights.”

This rhetoric became more specific: “Reforms in electoral laws will create a level playing field in our politics and give the electorate an opportunity to elect the leaders they want. In the economy reforms will ensure that more people, as opposed to a few, benefit from economic opportunities.”

“I am aware that people cannot eat reconciliation, resilience or reforms. … [O]ur main goal should be economic growth. And the growth should be sustainable enough to create employment to our youth and open up opportunities to all social groups in the country.”

“I am confident that we will be able to fulfil the goals of having a multiparty system,” she concluded. “Our main objective was not to have a multitude of political parties but to build a resilient and patriotic society that values reconciliation, with sustainable economic growth that benefits all. This is the best way to honour all those who fought for multiparty politics in our country.”

The President’s letter was commended by some and criticised by others.
“This is a wonderful move,” said Zitto Kabwe, the ACT-Wazalendo party leader. However, he also called on the government to turn the words into actions: “we need to see these issues taken to Parliament and various laws amended including those involving the political parties so that the goals and commitment of the President can be real…,” he said.

Chadema General Secretary John Mnyika said the President could have made better use of the 30-year anniversary to remove the constraints on political parties and by announcing speedy completion of the new constitution writing (see next article). He noted that the President did not write about removing “the illegal ban on public rallies”, finalising the constitution writing process or changing electoral laws.

Innocent Shoo, a lecturer at the College of Diplomacy was more positive: “If you do not have political freedom in the economy, many people are afraid to come and invest. What President Hassan is doing is ensuring the country builds itself economically because countries that have done so like Singapore were successful.”

NEW CONSTITUTION

by Ben Taylor

Where to start looking for a new Constitution?
With President Samia Suluhu Hassan having re-ignited the process towards enacting a new national constitution (see previous issue of TA), the debate has more recently shifted to the issue of where the process should begin: with one or other of the previous drafts developed as part of the most recent constitutional review process between 2010 and 2015, or with more public consultations and a clean slate?

The so-called “Warioba Draft”, also known as the “second draft”, was submitted by a Commission led by Former Prime Minister Joseph Warioba to the then President, Jakaya Kikwete, and debated by the Constituent Assembly (CA) comprising MPs and other prominent figures (incidentally with President Hassan as the CA’s Vice-Chair). Among (many) other things, this draft proposed a significant shift in the relationship between Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania – what became known as the “three government” model with Zanzibar, mainland Tanzania and the United Republic of Tanzania all having their own governments.

The CCM-dominated Constituent Assembly, following the advice of President Kikwete, made major changes to this draft, producing the “Proposed Constitution” in 2014, which was intended to be put to a public referendum. This draft retained many of the changes in the Warioba Draft, but dropped the three-government idea. Instead, it proposed that the relationship between Zanzibar and the mainland should remain largely unchanged from its current form.

The process stalled when opposition parties withdrew from the process in protest at the changes, undermining the popular legitimacy of the process. Time before the general election of 2015 to resolve the issues became too short, and after 2015 President Magufuli showed no interest in pursuing the matter.

Anna Henga, the executive director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) says the process should convene a new Constituent Assembly that “should use both the Second Draft Constitution and the Proposed Constitution during its debate”. She added that “doors should also be opened for Tanzanians to deliberate the matter through meetings, debates and media discussions.”

Tanzania Constitution Forum (TCF) executive director, Bob Chacha Wangwe, expressed a similar view: “An independent committee of experts should be tasked to produce a new proposed constitution, with content compiled from the Second Draft Constitution and the Proposed Constitution, that would be taken to citizens for voting during the referendum,” he said.
Joseph Warioba himself called on the Presidential Task Force to reconsider people’s views when it comes to the country’s new constitution, arguing that the public are currently being sidelined. “It is sad that people’s voices seem to be ignored. I see that leaders and intellectuals are given high priority to air their concerns on the matter leaving aside the common people,” he lamented.

The retired Vice Chairman of CCM, Mr Philip Mangula, agreed. “For the new constitution, it’s better to pay attention to people’s views,” he said.
ACT-Wazalendo secretary general Ado Shaibu said a national consultative forum should be convened to gather stakeholders from different parts of the country for dialogue. A committee of experts should then prepare a new proposed constitution from the second draft document and the first proposed constitution, which should then be put to a public vote.

After the CCM National Executive Council (NEC) held in Dodoma in June, the party’s Ideology and Publicity secretary Shaka Hamdu Shaka briefed reporters about key discussions and decisions. He said CCM and the leading opposition party, Chadema, have been engaged in consensus meetings, noting that the ruling party has been actively participating in every step of deliberations. “Considering the current environment, the government should see how best the new constitution writing process could be revived and completed for the interest of Tanzanians and the country at large,” he said.

This move was broadly welcomed by opposition party leaders. ACT-Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe said his party welcomed the CCM initiative with two hands. “We at ACT Wazalendo have been at the forefront in providing advice on proper means of getting the document,” he noted.

Chadema’s deputy secretary general (Mainland) Benson Kigaila said they supported the moves towards a new constitution and also called for the formation of a truth and reconciliation commission to discuss unjust and undemocratic incidents under the previous administration. “The commission will be responsible to ensure that such incidents will not repeat in future,” he said.

Speaking later at a debate among political party leaders, in July, Mr Kabwe said CCM as a whole had never really wanted multipartyism, but gave in to pressure and the persuasion of its then leader Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. He said the “original sin” for Tanzania’s democracy was to treat it as “supplied by CCM,” which also “meant that they would take it back if they so wished, as we saw between 2016-2021.”

At the same event, Chadema party chairman, Freeman Mbowe, said the current constitution guarantees protection to almost all top leaders, which leads to those in positions of responsibility making mistakes and arbitrary decisions without fear of any reprisals or accountability. He thanked President Samia for showing the willingness to tackle the challenges.

Tanzania’s current constitution dates from 1977, a time when the country operated a single-party system with power highly centralised in the position of the President. It has not been updated to reflect the adoption of multiparty democracy. Among the main calls of stakeholders – particularly those in opposition parties – is for a new constitution to properly establish the electoral commission as an independent body.

TWAWEZA RESUMES PUBLICATION OF OPINION DATA

by Ben Taylor

A leading civil society organisation, Twaweza, launched a new report in August drawing on data from their Sauti za Wananchi (Voices of the People) series of nationally-representative public opinion surveys. The report found that a large proportion of the population (68%) were concerned about the rising cost of living.

In response, the government warned that the survey was unofficial. “The findings are theirs (Twaweza) and we’ll look into them before we give the official government position. As the findings stand, they are not official,” said statistician general Albina Chuwa, responding to questions posed by Mwananchi newspaper.

On a positive note, the survey also found that a majority of citizens (68%) are satisfied with the improvement in delivery of social services and most 60% said they were happy with improvements in freedom of expression during the past six months.

The survey included a particular focus on recently introduced taxes and charges on mobile money transactions. The new levy was introduced in July 2021, then reduced by 30% in September 2021 and again in July 2022, making a total reduction of 60 percent of the previously set rate.

The survey found that 80% of citizens are aware of the introduction of the levy, but that citizens were divided on whether the levy represents a valuable new mechanism for raising money for public expenditure or an unnecessary burden on citizens’ own finances. A significant number of citizens (close to half) also report using mobile money services less often since the introduction of the levy – a finding that is supported by the mobile money services providers own accounts.

Aidan Eyakuze, the executive director of Twaweza, said, “Fees have increased the cost of important services, they have caused citizens to significantly reduce the use of these services and may in the end affect revenue collection.”

In order to balance the situation and build a just society, Mr Eyakuze said the government should listen to the voices of the people when making major decisions such as taxation. “The attention of the government will help build the confidence of the people, and increase their motivation to contribute to the development of the country,” he said.

“It’s not that people don’t want to be charged,” noted Dr Wilhelm Ngasamiaku, an economist from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM). “The importance of tax is known for the economy, but it increases pain. Dr Ngasamiaku noted that in recent years, a big effort was in encouraging rural citizens whose bank services have not reached to use mobile phones with the aim of promoting financial inclusion, through these charges, he believes the goal may not be reached.

Another economist from UDSM, Dr Jehovaness Aikaeli, said there were few dependable sources of revenue for the government, and as a result the government collected taxes from sources that were visible such as mobile money and bank transactions.

The survey conducted in October 2021 and July 2022 involved 3,000 respondents, comprising a representative sample of all adults in Tanzania. The survey was conducted by mobile phone, calling respondents who had previously participated in door-to-door surveys and consented to be reached again in future by mobile phone.

Publication of the findings represent a significant step both for Twaweza and for Tanzania more generally, as such data had become highly politicised under President Magufuli, and Twaweza – while continuing to collect some data throughout, had not publicly released any new public opinion data in Tanzania since mid-2018. At that time, the data had revealed a sharp decline in public approval of the President’s performance. The government then responded by challenging the organisation’s right to collect and publish such data. Twaweza’s executive director, Aidan Eyakuze – a Tanzanian citizen – had his nationality questioned publicly and his passport confiscated.

Since President Samia Suluhu Hassan took office, the government has taken a more open attitude to freedom of expression, including the right of organisations like Twaweza to collect and publish public opinion data. Aidan Eyakuze has had his passport returned to him, and this first release of data for four years is seen by some commentators as a test case for political and civil society freedoms.

At the time of writing (late August), it is less than a week since the data was released – too early to conclude on its impact. However, it is notable that the release prompted heated online debate, including attempts by some to attribute claims to Twaweza that were not supported either by the report itself or by Twaweza’s statements at the launch. “Twaweza Battles Misinformation,” read one online headline.

However, this use of fake news as a tactic strongly echoes the kind of responses seen by Twaweza in the past, particularly around the 2015 general election. It is very different from preventing such research from being conducted or published in the first place.

(Full Disclosure: The writer of this article – also the editor of Tanzanian Affairs – works as a consultant with Twaweza.)

CENSUS UNDERWAY

by Ben Taylor
At the time of writing (late August), Tanzania’s decennial Population and Housing Census is underway. The exercise kicked off on August 23, 2022, according to Anna Makinda, the 2022 Census Commissioner, who explained that the data gathering exercise would last for seven days and cover the whole population in all households across the country.

The population census will be followed by enumeration of all buildings, which will begin on August 30 and will be done by the same clerks used in population census. This comprises the collection of information on all residential and non-residential buildings across the country. The intention is to inform policy change and strategic plans for the housing sector, as well as to assess the level of houses in planned and unplanned areas and the state of access to community services in various locations.

This is only the sixth time that Tanzania will be holding a national population and housing census since the country gained independence in 1961, with previous exercises taking place in 1967, 1978, 1988, 2002 and 2012.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan underlined the importance of the public to participate in the national census, saying it was crucial in planning the country’s development and for equitable distribution of resources. “Data collected through the census will enable the government to provide requisite social services such as education, health and water and address challenges facing some sections of the population, including persons with disabilities,” she said.

ONE YEAR OF PRESIDENT HASSAN

by Ben Taylor

President Hassan at a dinner held in her honour in Washington DC, April 2022 (Ikulu)

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As Tanzania saw the first anniversary of Samia Suluhu Hassan becoming President in March, the government and the ruling CCM party celebrated the economic and political changes her presidency has brought about.

Highlights of the year include the President’s championing of women’s rights. Nine of her cabinet ministers are women, which represents 36% of the cabinet, and she has brought a series of highly qualified women in to fill strategically important roles within State House. The government has also reversed the heavily criticised policy of banning pregnant schoolgirls from attending school.

Business environment and economic diplomacy
Just days after taking office a year earlier, President Hassan had outlined a raft of measures her government would take to stimulate economic growth, and to recover from the adverse effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic. In her maiden speech to Parliament she articulated the need for the government to regain investors’ confidence by creating a friendly business environment.

A year later, CCM Secretary-General Daniel Chongolo said the President’s efforts in this field have resulted in significant improvements in the business and investment environment. “In one year, we have seen a positive economic growth in our country as a result of increased investment in strategic projects: electricity, water, health, education, road construction, railways and airports,” he said.

Mr Chongolo noted that results that could already be seen including an increase in the circulation of cash, an increase in loans to the private sector, a reduction in bank’s bad credit, an increase in foreign currency reserves and increased tax collection to record levels.

Economists described the period as a course correction. Dr Abel Kinyondo of the University of Dar es Salaam said President Hassan was putting economic diplomacy into practice. She has done this, he explained, by undertaking crucial visits and meetings to repair ties with the outside world and influence Tanzania’s trading relationship with the rest of the globe. She has met with key players in the international economy – for example hosting visits by the former British prime minister Tony Blair, World Bank managing director Mari Pangestu and African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina, and by undertaking visits to Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, France, Belgium, the UK and the USA.

Prof Haji Semboja of the State University of Zanzibar’s Economics Department commended the President for understanding that Tanzania could not work as an island. “She has been believing in global connectivity and that is why she keeps on redefining policies, laws and policies to cope with this modern world,” he noted.

A second trip to the USA, in mid-April 2022, continued this strategy. President Hassan met with US Vice President Kamala Harris, holding talks that mainly centered on Tanzania’s economic growth. The trip reportedly generated close to a billion dollars in investments from various companies in the US.

“We welcome, of course the attention you are giving to that and the focus of this trip including the focus of investment opportunities in relation to the economy in the area of tourism,” said Vice President Harris.

The visit to the USA came exactly 60 years since Tanzania’s founding Father Julius Nyerere visited President John F Kennedy in 1962. In noting the anniversary, President Hassan said that “the United States and Tanzania have enjoyed relations for the last 60 years, my government would like to see the relations grow further and strengthened to greater heights.” She also expressed her government’s appreciation to the US government “for invaluable development assistance and great work the USAID has been doing in Tanzania over the years particularly on the social and economic development.”

Political freedoms
CCM Secretary General Daniel Chongolo also remarked that President Hassan has been committed to stabilising the political environment and bringing national unity through good governance based on the rule of law. He noted that she had met with opposition leaders, listening to their concerns and consulting with them on how best to protect democracy and freedom of expression.

He said during this one year, freedom of expression has improved. This is one of the key principles in promoting and building democracy and the classes of the people in self-government in the implementation of the 2020 election manifesto.

The President herself, speaking in mid-March, signalled further reforms would be forthcoming. She issued a series of directives to a special task force formed to propose reforms that would set the stage for “clean politics” and raising democratic standards. In addition to examining the possible need for constitutional reforms, she asked the task force to make recommendations on how best to handle subsidies to political parties, a general code of conduct for political parties, ending corruption during elections and finding a way to enhance women participation in politics.

“We need concrete recommendations that will be shared with the public so that people can understand where we want to go,” she said.

Dr Phidelis Rutayunga, a political analyst and lawyer based in Dar es Salaam, said President Hassan has showed genuine commitment to improving the political environment in the country. “I saw one quote that said she was ready to pay the cost in the 2025 General Election, but she is determined to create a level playing ground when it comes to politics,” he said.

“Speaking that way in a country like the United States shows that she is ready to be held responsible not only by politicians and pro-democracy activists in Tanzania but also abroad if there is no implementation,” he added.

Early 2022 saw three moments that signal a clear change of direction on political matters: the release of one opposition leader, Freeman Mbowe [see next article], a visit to another (Tundu Lissu) in his exile in Belgium in February 2022, and a willingness to discuss possible changes to political processes in Tanzania with opposition parties [see article on the Constitution]. The government has also recently ended bans on several newspapers, signalling a positive turn in media freedom.

Opposition leaders, however, see significant room for further changes. Two leading opposition parties – Chadema and NCCR – recently refused to participate in dialogue, arguing that the process made little sense if the government would not accept the need for a new constitution.

Further, beyond formal politics, civil society groups and the media continue to find that the operating environment remains challenging. While significant changes have been made, there remain strong elements within the government that are either unsure of the extent to which civil society and the media should be allowed to operate free from government control, or unwilling to allow this.

Changes within CCM
Early April also saw the President, in her role as CCM chairperson, introduce reforms to the CCM party rulebook. “Without building a quality and resilient political party, we will fail to keep up with the changes. So we are forced to make revisions within the party’s constitution to keep pace with the changes,” she explained.

The number of National Executive Council (NEC) and Central Committee (CC) members was slashed from 388 to 154, and 34 to 24, respectively. The party also halved the frequency of its annual internal meetings from the grassroots to national levels in what was said to be a decision meant to increase efficiency, and reduce the number of inactive leaders in various positions.

“We have returned regional secretaries to the National Executive Committee (NEC), who will receive direct instructions from the party organ instead of waiting directives from other committee members,” said the President.

Some of the new revisions to CCM’s constitution reversed changes which were made in 2017 under Magufuli, and were explained as being about improving the party’s efficiency.

University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) lecturer, Dr Richard Mbunda, said the 2017 reforms were prompted by the austere philosophy of the Fifth Phase government. “Probably, the philosophy has been found to be unsustainable for the party, therefore triggering the new reforms,” he said.

A senior lecturer from the University of Iringa, Dr Stephen Kimondo, said despite references to the reforms as normal, the move to reinstate things dropped in 2017 implies that something was wrong within CCM. “It could be said that the amendments had been influenced by an individual,” he said, rather than what is best for the party.

At the same meeting of the party General Assembly, delegates unanimously voted in favour of the new party Vice Chairperson, Mr Abdulrahman Kinana. He replaces the outgoing Philip Mangula, who opted for retirement at the age of 81, after serving the party for many decades in many roles.

MBOWE CHARGES DROPPED

by Ben Taylor

TA132 cover shows Mr Mbowe being welcomed to State House on 4th March 2022 for a meeting with President Samia Suluhu Hassan

In perhaps the clearest sign yet of President Hassan’s more open approach to governance, early March saw the release of Freeman Mbowe, chairperson of the opposition party Chadema, from prison and charges against him being dropped. He had spent more than eight months behind bars on terrorism charges that critics had described as politically motivated.

In February, the High Court’s Corruption and Economic Crimes Division had found that Mbowe and his three co-accused had a case to answer. However, just over two weeks later prosecutors dropped the case.

“The Court is informed that the Director of Public Prosecution on behalf of the Republic will not further prosecute Halfan Bwire Hassan, Adam Hassan Kasekwa, Mohammed Abdillahi Ling’wenya and Freeman Aikaeli Mbowe,” reads part of the Nolle Prosequi notice signed on March 4 by Senior State attorney Robert Kidando.

Mere hours after his release, Mr Mbowe was welcomed to State House for a meeting with President Samia Suluhu Hassan. Video clips released afterwards by both parties informed the public of their agreement to conduct constructive, trustful, respectful and unification politics for the interest of the country.

Mbowe said later that meeting with President Samia Suluhu Hassan shortly after being freed from remand prison was the opportunity the party had been looking for since the fifth phase government [of Presidents Magufuli and Hassan]. He said Chadema submitted three letters requesting to meet former President Magufuli, but in vain.

“Our meeting focused on building principles that would enable our people to build the nation peacefully, something on which she has really shown political will,” he said. Mr Mbowe added that both sides agreed that there was a need to build understanding and consensus by preaching sustainable justice instead of hangings, planting fake cases and shooting each other.

Mbowe’s release came a few days after a group of senior religious leaders made representations to President Hassan, calling for the appropriate authorities to use their discretion to end the case against Chadema chairman.

“We don’t want to interfere with the rule of law,” said Anglican Church of Tanzania Bishop Jackson Sosthenes, upon submitting the request to the President. “We would therefore like to ask for the government’s wisdom to see how the matter could be dealt with in order to bring more health for broad interests of the nation. Authorities should see how the matter can be concluded,” he said.

Political analyst Kasera Nick Oyoo, writing in The Citizen, described the whole case as a farce. He argued that Mbowe’s time in prison put Tanzania on the list of banana republics. “It still beggars belief that a country that always wishes to mirror itself as the paragon of civility and conviviality felt it necessary to bring terrorism charges against Mr Mbowe,” he wrote. “For some reason, at some point, someone felt that it was not enough to use police to disperse crowds, or deny Mr Mbowe and his colleagues the right enshrined in the Constitution to assemble and conduct political activities peacefully. The powers that be came up with what they must have thought was a brilliant plan – arrest Mr Mbowe and a few acolytes, and charge them with terrorism.”

However, he argued, the trial became a fiasco after it became apparent that the State had “an embarrassingly feeble case” against him and his co-accused. “It seems prosecution witnesses were hurriedly prepared, the case was incoherent, and even laymen could see that prosecution had no concrete case. Testimonies by prosecution witnesses were a complete farce, and that is putting it mildly.”

“In the process, it was not Mr Mbowe who suffered serious damage,” he concluded. “It is the reputation of the United Republic of Tanzania that was drugged through the mud, and a country’s reputation, as we know, is not easily repaired after being tarnished the way it was.”