Archive for Politics

LOWASSA RETURNS TO CCM

by Ben Taylor

Former Prime Minister, Edward Lowassa (right) is welcomed back into the CCM party by President Magufuli (centre) and Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa.

Former presidential candidate (in 2015) for the country’s leading opposition party, Chadema, Edward Lowassa, resigned from Chadema in March and re-joined his former party, CCM. Speaking at Lumumba CCM offices, Mr Lowassa said: “I am back home.”

Mr Lowassa had previously served in government as a CCM member, most notably as Prime Minister between December 2005 and February 2008 under President Jakaya Kikwete. He resigned his position as Prime Minister following criticism by MPs

and others of his actions in the controversial emergency electricity generation contract awarded to a US firm, Richmond. In the eyes of many, this scandal left Mr Lowassa permanently tainted, though he retained strong support within CCM, such that he was considered a leading contender in the party for selection as the party’s presidential candidate in 2015. When he was overlooked for that role, he sought and found a new home in Chadema – one that would give him a chance to contest the Presidency.

There were signs that Mr Lowassa never entirely felt at home with Chadema, however, and that many Chadema members and supporters felt uncomfortable with him as a leading player in their party. The Chadema party chair, Freeman Mbowe, had long been an outspoken critic of Mr Lowassa, as had the party’s previous presidential candidate Dr Wilbroad Slaa. Dr Slaa left the party soon after Mr Lowassa joined, though Mr Mbowe and most of the party’s senior figures remained.

On Mr Lowassa’s part, following his ultimately unsuccessful election campaign, his involvement in Chadema party matters was never more than lukewarm. He did not join in the kind of criticism of the government that other party leaders engaged in, and he occasionally spoke positively about President Magufuli’s leadership.

At a meeting with President John Magufuli in January 2018, Mr Lowassa congratulated President Magufuli for a good job he was doing. The former Prime Minister said the ‘fruitful conversation’ he had with the President had comforted him, saying “the President has made my day.”

As such, his decision now to return to CCM did not take many observers by surprise. “He could not stay in the opposition after losing the election because the mission and objectives of the Tanzanian opposition were not in his heart,” said Prof Gaudens Mpangala of Ruaha Catholic University (RUCU). “With his sole ambition of winning the presidency, Mr Lowassa’s exit from Chadema was just a matter of time after losing to Dr Magufuli,” he added. Chadema’s deputy secretary general (Mainland) John Mnyika says the absence of Lowassa will not reduce opposition influence and votes, but will instead help them make significant strides in the coming election.

“In 2015, Tanzanians voted for change. There was a massive motivation campaign for change, so his coming to Chadema was an impetus,” he said. “His exit has given an opportunity to pick a candidate better than him. So, we view his absence is a good riddance and a blessing in disguise.”

Prof Mpangala said the opposition managed to secure six million votes in the 2015 election not because of Mr Lowassa but because of the chances created by political situation at that particular time. He said rampant corruption and inaction of the previous administration gave the opposition a key agenda that resonated with voters.

Despite the predictable nature of Mr Lowassa’s decision, rumours swirled about possible ulterior motives. Some suggest he was doing this in order to speed the release of his son-in-law who is in long-term remand for alleged bank fraud, while others say this was a measure to ward off government pressures on Mr Lowassa’s extensive business interests and property portfolio. A third suggestion is that President Magufuli has encouraged Mr Lowassa to re-join CCM in order to assist him with handling critics within the party, notably those connected with Mr Lowassa’s long-time rival, Bernard Membe.

President Magufuli welcomed Mr Lowassa back into CCM: “He is a gentleman. He was a CCM member and defected to the opposition, but he requested to return home. I commend him – even in holy scriptures we are taught to forgive. Welcome back so that we can build our country which has no political conflicts, and development has no political ideology.”

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OPPOSITION MUSICAL CHAIRS

by Ben Taylor
Lipumba and Seif, CUF and ACT
The long-running tug-of-war for the control of Civic United Front (CUF) reached a conclusion in March, when the high court ruled in favour of Prof Ibrahim Lipumba as the legitimate national chair of the party. This set off a chain reaction of moves involving the other CUF faction – led by former Vice President of Zanzibar, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad – and other opposition parties, that will radically change opposition politics on Zanzibar, and could also have a major impact nationwide.

Maalim Seif responded to the court’s decision by immediately resigning from CUF and joining the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT Wazalendo), bringing many thousands of his supporters with him. ACT is led by Zitto Kabwe, the outspoken MP for Kigoma Urban.

The dispute between Prof Lipumba and Mr Hamad has roots in the lead-up to the 2015 election, when Prof Lipumba resigned his position as CUF party chair in protest at the selection of former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa as candidate for President representing the opposition coalition, UKAWA, of which CUF was a prominent member. Several months following the election, Prof Lipumba rescinded his resignation letter and attempted to take control of key party bodies and assets, including party funds.

The party faction allied to Mr Hamad, the 2015 UKAWA candidate for President of Zanzibar, resisted this move, leading to the involvement of the Registrar of Political Parties, Judge Francis Mutungi. Judge Mutungi decided in favour of Prof Lipumba, and the high court has now upheld his decision.

Prof Lipumba, however, may find himself in control of a hollowed-out party. Mr Hamad acted swiftly to defect to ACT Wazalendo, bringing his supporters – thought to constitute the vast majority of the party membership in Zanzibar, where the party has its strongest support – with him.

Even before Mr Hamad made his announcement, the direction of travel was clear, with CUF supporters removing CUF flags and repainting party branch offices around Zanzibar in the purple colours of ACT. It has been reported that many or most of the CUF offices and the furniture and equipment they contain actually belonged to party members rather than to the party itself, hence Mr Hamad’s supporters were able to take the offices and equipment with them into their new party.

“We are rebranding the offices as directed by higher authorities,” said the CUF secretary for Chakechake District in Pemba, Mr Saleh Nassor Juma. He said Mr Hamad has the people who were ready to work with him in any political party he chooses to go to.

Speaking just hours after the high court ruling was announced, Mr Hamad held a press conference in Dar es es Salaam, at which he stated that he has no intention to “continue squabbling over the court’s decision.” “Suffice it to say that our intention now is not to continue with court disputes. It’s enough. Political struggles have to continue,” Mr Hamad said. “The platform which we have decided to use to continue the struggle for democracy is the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo) party,” declared Mr Hamad.

Asked why he chose ACT-Wazalendo and not another opposition party, Mr Hamad said that he did so because the party’s conditions were more acceptable. He didn’t name the conditions, saying that it was an internal party issue.

Reacting to the decision, Prof Lipumba said he was saddened that Mr Hamad took such a decision but not surprised. “We had already fired him from his position as party secretary general,” Prof Lipumba said.

ACT Wazalendo leader Zitto Kabwe welcomed Civic United Front (CUF) members joining his party, arguing that this gives ACT a whole new direction and stature in the country’s politics. “This signals a positive direction of the country’s opposition and its struggles for democracy in general,” said Mr Kabwe. “Efforts to build a strong coalition among the opposition parties are mandatory considering the current political circumstances,” he said.

Mr Kabwe handed over membership cards to Mr Hamad, former CUF Director of International Relations Ismail Jussa, former CUF Deputy Secretary General for Zanzibar, Nassor Mazrui, and the UKAWA candidate for Vice President of Tanzania in 2015, Juma Duni Haji, among others. Mr Haji was named as the new deputy leader of ACT Wazalendo.

Speaking shortly after the event, Mr Hamad said. “I’m speechless. I thank ACT-Wazalendo for giving us this grand reception.” He showered praise on his host, Mr Kabwe. “He’s dynamic, energetic, visionary and brave,” said Mr Hamad. “We are officially ACT-Wazalendo members from today. This country needs to go back to its democratic principles. We’ve to keep up the fight towards that direction,” said Mr Hamad. He also cautioned against the use of violence for their hard work will bear no fruit. “We have to come up with alternative ways, that ensure that democratic values are restored peacefully,” he said.

Political commentator, Jenerali Ulimwengu, described Mr Hamad’s move to ACT as “a potential game-changer. ACT may be a tiny organisation with only one Member of the Union Parliament, its founder Zitto Kabwe. But Kabwe is a smart politician.” “Lipumba has literally nothing left to deal with,” he added, explaining that Seif can still count on the support of most former CUF supporters on Zanzibar and some pockets of supporters on the mainland.

Mbowe released from custody
On March 7, Freeman Mbowe, the chair of Tanzania’s leading opposition party, Chadema, was released on bail after winning an appeal against a contempt of court ruling. Mr Mbowe and his co-accused Esther Matiko, also a Chadema MP, were both released after spending nearly four months in prison.

The two had been denied bail in November last year for failing to show up for a court hearing. At the time, Mr Mbowe said he had been unwell while Ms Matiko said she had been on parliamentary duty outside the country.

Mr Mbowe, Ms Matiko and seven other top party leaders are facing charges of sedition, incitement to violence and holding an “illegal rally” in February 2018 that led to the death of a female student, who is believed to have been killed by a stray police bullet.

High Court Judge Sam Rumanyika ruled that their rights had been violated and ordered their immediate release on bail. “I have never seen such a case in all my time as a judge,” he said, adding it was “dangerous to deny an accused bail without a valid reason.”

“I order that Mr Mbowe and Ms Matiko be freed immediately,” the judge ruled. They must report to the court once a month until their appearance with the seven co-accused in the protest trial.

Earlier the same day, Morogoro Resident Magistrate’s Court released two other Chadema MPs, Mr Peter Lijualikali and Ms Suzan Kiwanga, and six other party members. The court noted that the state’s arguments were not sufficient to deny bail to the suspects. The accused were arrested on February 25, accused of setting fire to a police station in 2017.

Lissu to return?
Prominent opposition politician, Tundu Lissu, has said that he is “more than ready” to run for the presidency of Tanzania in 2020 if his party wants him to. Mr Lissu, who is chief whip for the Tanzanian opposition party Chadema, is currently living in Belgium where he has been undergoing medical treatment after an assassination attempt in Tanzania in 2017. He has undergone 20 operations.

In a televised interview on BBC World News, he said would return to Tanzania when the doctors declared him “fit to go”. When he returned, he added, the government would have a responsibility to ensure he was safe.

During his absence from Tanzania, and as his health has improved, Mr Lissu has made numerous appearances in the international media and at public events in Europe and North America. He has repeatedly told the story of the attempt on his life, accusing the government of being behind the attack and of failing to investigate the case properly. He also complained that the parliament of Tanzania was no longer paying his salary, though he had not been given neither any notice to this effect nor any explanation.

Following one such public appearance, the Ambassador of Tanzania in Germany, Dr Abdallah Possi, responded publicly. “The people of Tanzania – and, indeed, his parliamentary constituents (in Singida East) – would have expected him, if he has now recovered and is able to travel, to go back home and continue his representative and other public duties,” the ambassador stated.

Home Affairs minister Kangi Lugola said he is surprised that the police have until now not arrested Mr Lissu. “I am surprised why the police haven’t arrested Mr Lissu just like they have been arresting loiterers. He has been wandering around the globe, while insisting that he is still sick,” said Mr Lugola.

Changing the rules of the game
At the end of January, Tanzania’s parliament passed amendments to legislation that give sweeping powers to the government-appointed Registrar of Political Parties, a move that opposition legislators say will cement one-party rule. The Act was signed by President Magufuli two weeks later and gazetted ten days after that, which makes the new law operational.

The amendments give the Registrar the power to demand any information from parties, to intervene in parties’ internal decision-making processes, and to suspend or cancel party registration. They also introduce tight restrictions on political party mergers and coalitions.

Critics say the amendments will prevent opposition parties from making an effective challenge to President Magufuli and the ruling CCM party in next year’s general election and this year’s local elections. Opposition leaders said the legislative changes would effectively criminalize political activity and turn Tanzania into “a de facto one-party state”.

“You can’t have a constitution that allows freedom of association then give someone powers to revoke that freedom of association,” said Zitto Kabwe, the leader of the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party.

Esther Bulaya, an MP with Chadema, said the legislation would give the registrar of political parties “excessive powers” to interfere with internal affairs of political parties, including stripping individuals of party membership and removing them from leadership positions.

But CCM MPs argued that the amendments give the registrar much-needed authority to act as a referee and ensure political parties do not embezzle subsidies from taxpayers and that they hold transparent internal leadership elections. The legislation aims to enhance transparency and accountability, said Jenista Mhagama, the minister of state in the prime minister’s Office responsible for parliamentary affairs.

Within weeks of the Act being enacted by parliament, the Registrar of Political Parties, Mr Francis Mutungi, issued a notice of intention to deregister ACT-Wazalendo over reported breach of the Act.

In his letter, Mr Mutungi said ACT-Wazalendo had lost eligibility of being a political party, citing the party’s failure to submit an audit of its 2013/14 financial accounts, and accusing the party of breaking the law by allowing its supporters to burn CUF flags and using religious sentiments following the defection of CUF members to ACT (see previous article.)

Mr Kabwe dismissed these claims, saying his party had not broken any law. He described the allegations as “baseless”, and a “personal vendetta”. According to him, the party’s 2013/2014 financial records were submitted to the office of the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) as the law requires. Further, he disowned those accused of burning CUF flags, saying they were not ACT-Wazalendo members. “Our party will not be deregistered because of us breaking laws, but rather because of the State wanting to,” he said.

A group of civil society organisations spoke up in defence of ACT. Ms Felista Mauya, the director of human rights, monitoring and accountability with the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), described the threat of deregistration as “extreme”.

“In a democratic country that follows the principles of justice and transparency, we did not expect the registrar to issue such a strong statement on allegations that have not yet been proven,” she said, adding that the letter was issued prematurely and contained many allegations that could be have been discussed between the party and the registrar’s office.

Ms Mauya said opposition parties were operating in a climate of fear where internal meetings were being violently broken up or expressly banned. “It was only a few days ago that an internal meeting organised by ACT-Wazalendo was stopped by police without considering the fact that political parties have a right to conduct meetings,” she said.

In April, four opposition parties lodged a lawsuit at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) over the Political Parties Act amendments. The case bas been brought by Chadema chair, Freeman Mbowe, together with Zitto Kabwe and Seif Sharif Hamad of ACT Wazalendo.

Mr Mbowe explained that the basis of the case is that the new Act contravenes the terms of establishment of the East African Community (EAC).

“We are opposing the whole act and we request the EACJ to stop this law from implementation until the basic case is heard,” he said. He added that the law “criminalizes democracy in Tanzania”.

The East African Court of Justice very recently judged a similar case relating to the Media Services Act, which critics have argued introduces excessive restrictions on freedom of the press. In this case, the EACJ ruled that several sections of the Media Services Act “violate the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community”. The judgement stated that any restrictions on freedom of expression are only acceptable when they are narrow, clearly specified & clearly justified. Those bringing the case against the Political Parties Act look to be hoping for the court to reach a similar verdict.

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CAG AUDIT QUERIES

by Ben Taylor

Prof Mussa Assad presents the CAG Annual Report.

Two disputes flared up over the annual audits of the public sector conducted by the Controller and Auditor General (CAG), Prof Mussa Assad – one from previous years, and one new one.

The older case relates to the audit of central government accounts in the year 2016/17, the first full year of President Magufuli’s administration. When the audit report was first published early in 2018, opposition MP Zitto Kabwe highlighted an apparent discrepancy in the numbers – concluding that a huge sum (TSh 1.5tn, around US $600m) had gone missing. This prompted a great deal of debate at the time, with the government presenting a range of different, and sometimes contradictory, explanations, before parliament effectively put the issue on hold by tasking Prof Assad to conduct a special audit to investigate the reasons behind the alleged “missing 1.5 trillion”.

In January, Prof Assad presented this special report to parliament. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) conducted its own review of the report, concluding that “there was no loss or theft”. The report itself, however, was not published, leading to allegations of a whitewash. Opposition PAC members noted new discrepancies uncovered by the special audit that the committee’s review neglected to mention.

The report leaked. As one analyst concluded: the report “did indeed uncover many anomalies, enough to paint a very disturbing picture. We don’t see a bank heist as such, but we do see something like all the cash from a vault strewn in mind-boggling confusion across the floor.”

Anomalies highlighted in the report include TSh 977bn of unauthorised reallocations, TSh 657bn discrepancy between Exchequer Issues Warrants and the Exchequer Release Report, and TSh 291bn of unsupported overdraft.

In all, while the report did not conclude that the supposed TSh 1.5tn had indeed been stolen, it did report discrepancies totalling TSh 2.4tn (over US $1bn).

Perhaps most significantly, the report itself bemoaned the “lack of supporting documents and adequate explanations from Management (of the Ministry of Finance), which were necessary for ascertaining the accuracy and validity of amounts to be verified,”, and noted that “the provided information was scattered in numerous sections and were subjected to frequent adjustments in the course of verification.”

These strained relations between some MPs and the CAG may have contributed to the second dispute. MPs took offence at remarks made by Prof Assad in a media interview, where he described Tanzania’s parliament as “weak” for failing to follow up on the conclusions of his previous reports. In response the Speaker, Job Ndugai, demanded Prof Assad to appear before the Parliamentary Privileges, Ethics and Standards Committee. “You can’t speak badly of your country when you are outside the country,” said Mr Ndugai.

Prof Assad appeared before the committee on January 21. At the beginning of April, the committee presented a motion to parliament stating that Prof Assad had “disrespected MPs” and that parliament should stop working with him. MPs overwhelming voted in favour of the motion.

This threatened to trigger a constitutional crisis, as Prof Assad’s role as CAG is established by the constitution, which requires that he present an annual report to parliament. In the event, the potential crisis was averted when the reports were presented to parliament by various Ministers, rather than by Prof Assad himself. Meanwhile, Prof Assad held a press conference outside parliament where he highlighted the main issues identified in his reports. He also published the full reports online (as has been standard practice for several years).

As it happens, the report findings were arguably less controversial than in previous years. Of the 241 institutions whose financial statements were audited, 234 (97%) were awarded “clean” reports, compared to 88% in the previous year. However, questionable transactions revealed in the CAG report run into hundreds of billions of shillings of taxpayers’ money. Significant procurement weaknesses were found in the Police Force and National Electoral Commission, as well as problems with budget management.

The Citizen newspaper drew attention to one particularly pertinent conclusion of the reports: that only 23% of the CAG’s recommendations from past reports had been acted on. This was the very point Prof Assad had been making in his media interview that upset parliament.

“It is unacceptable that MPs are busy pointing fingers at the CAG” in such circumstances, said the paper, asking “where is their moral ground to do that?”

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POLITICS

by Ben Taylor

President Magufuli with Japanese Ambassador Masaharu Yoshida at the opening of the Mfugale flyover at TAZARA

President Magufuli celebrates three years of achievements
At a forum held at the University of Dar es Salaam in November, President Magufuli spoke of his administration’s achievements, citing expansion of industry, economic progress, removal of ghost workers from the government payroll and more.

The President, who was seated with the rest of the audience, won the praise of all the dons who took part in the discussion, including professors Humphrey Moshi, Hudson Nkotagu, Martha Qorro, Kitila Mkumbo and Rwekaza Mukandala.

President Magufuli detailed a number of achievements, including infrastructure development projects that are currently underway, and reviving Air Tanzania. He added that during the three years, Tanzania had managed to accumulate a total of $5.4 billion as the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

“This amount, which is enough to cover six months of Tanzania’s import requirements, has never been realised before. This has been possible due to prudent policies and controlling wasteful spending, including banning unnecessary foreign trips by government officials,” he said.

Contrary to some reports that Tanzania’s business climate was worsening, President Magufuli said that the country was the leading source of foreign direct investments (FDIs) among member states of the East African Community.

He restated his determination to implement the Stiegler’s Gorge Hydroelectric Power generation project in the hope that it would ensure that Tanzania had reliable and affordable electricity. He noted that a total of 32.5% of Tanzania’s land area is protected, trashing arguments that developing the 2,100MW Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectric power generation project in the Selous Game Reserve would have some dire consequences on the environment and on tourism.

He argued that the project would reduce power costs, attract more investments and reduce prices of locally produced products, slamming some experts who produced an environmental impact assessment report to the effect that developing the project was bad for the environment.

On the topic of ghost workers, President Magufuli said previously TSh 237bn was being paid as salaries to ghost workers and TSh 189bn to workers with fake academic credentials on an annual basis. “Before the crackdown(s), the total civil service payroll was TSh 777bn per year, but we are now spending just TSh 251bn to pay salaries to our employees,” he said, adding: “There was a certain public official who was pocketing the salaries of 17 ghost workers every month… that is how Tanzania was.”

On industrial development, the President stated that a total of “3,066 new industries” have been established across the country in three years that he has been in power. He said this means new employment opportunities for thousands of Tanzanians in the country. He added that his government has already issued instructions to investors who have failed to develop industries they acquired some years ago to surrender them to the government.

He also remarked that “Tanzania will no longer supply raw materials abroad; we cannot continue with that business, instead we are going to produce and export ready-made goods to them.”

Finally, he recounted how the government has tightened control on unnecessary expenditures such as foreign travel by public officials, which has increased the amount of foreign reserves with the Bank of Tanzania. “Some officials were just spending public funds on flights, people were travelling abroad unnecessarily, some were conducting meetings in Dubai instead of using their offices’ boardrooms,” explained President Magufuli.

The former UDSM vice chancellor Prof Rwekaza Mukandala compared Dr Magufuli and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in various aspects. He said Magufuli has a similar zero-tolerance approach to the late Nyerere on issues of corruption, unemployment, aid dependency, and laziness. “His fate will be known after the 2020 General Election,” he said.

Opposition parties complain of tightening restrictions
The year 2018 has been a challenging one for opposition parties. First, they have suffered multiple defections to the ruling CCM – including ten MPs (7 from Chadema, 3 from CUF), almost all of whom were re-elected in by-elections to represent the same constituencies for CCM, and over 200 local councillors.

CCM attributed sweeping victories in the by-elections to the party’s acceptance by the public. In contrast, the opposition, particularly Chadema and ACT Wazalendo, called foul play and pointed to multiple irregularities, claiming that CCM had used state organs to rig elections. The two opposition parties ended up boycotting participation in by-elections while pressing for major reforms to contain irregularities recorded during the previous polls.

Second, opposition leaders have been very busy battling cases in various courts. Leaders involved in criminal cases include Chadema chairman, Freeman Mbowe; secretary general Vincent Mashinji; deputy secretary general (Mainland), John Mnyika; deputy secretary general (Zanzibar), Salumu Mwalimu; Iringa MP, Peter Msigwa; Tarime Urban MP, Esther Matiko; Tarime Rural MP, John Heche; and the women’s wing chair and Kawe MP, Halima Mdee. This group face charges of incitement, alleged to have been committed in Dar es Salaam in February, on the same occasion when the police are alleged to have inadvertently caused the death of a student, Akwilina Akwiline (see TA120). The case forced Mr Mbowe and Ms Matiko to spend Christmas and New Year in remand prison after a court decided they had violated their bail conditions.

In a separate case in November, ACT Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe was arrested and held for three days before being brought to court following remarks he made regarding clashes between citizens and police in Kigoma Region. Mr Kabwe was charged with three counts of incitement including intent to sow hatred among citizens and police through words he uttered during a press conference. He is accused of saying he had received reports from Mpete village, Uvinza district that over 100 people of Wanyantuzu ethnic group had been shot dead in clashes with security forces, though the police were yet to release information about the reported clashes.

A further series of cases saw the Mbeya Urban MP Joseph Mbilinyi, widely known as “Sugu” and the party’s secretary in the Southern Highlands, Emmanuel Masonga, being convicted for five months jail term after being found guilty of using abusive language against President Magufuli. They were released on May 10 this year after spending 73 days at Ruanda Prison.

Third, late in the year, long-mooted plans to amend the Political Parties Act of 1992 reached parliament, where a Bill of amendments to the Act was tabled. This follows several new laws and regulations introduced in the past few years that similarly tighten controls on the media, social media and bloggers, and the use of statistics.

If passed, the Bill will give the Registrar of Political Parties powers that go well beyond the original purpose of his office – to administer the registration of political parties – turning the “Registrar” into something closer to a “Regulator”. Specifically, this includes extensive powers to demand information – membership lists, details of party finances, and “any information as may be required.” Further, it includes the power to intervene in internal party management matters, such as administration of membership lists, restrictions on parties’ constitutions, and internal party disciplinary matters.

The bill also includes a new prohibition on parties acting as “a group that influences public opinion or government action,” restrictions on the formation of coalitions between parties, regulation of civic education and capacity building within parties, and a prohibition on parties forming any “militia, paramilitary or security group of any kind.”

The opposition and human rights defenders think the amendments are intended to kill the opposition and turn the country into a single party state, something that was strongly refuted by government authorities.

2019 year of action – the “Zanzibar Declaration”
In response to these and other challenges, a group of six opposition parties have said they will dedicate 2019 to mobilising the public to demand more democratic space.

Representatives of six leading opposition parties — including Chadema, Civic United Front (CUF) and ACT Wazalendo — met in Zanzibar a week before Christmas and resolved to have a campaign of public action.

The declaration states that: “time has come to renew our commitment and strengthen our solidarity in pursuing a national agenda against rising authoritarianism, an agenda that goes beyond individual interests of our parties. This will require courage to withstand the onslaught that we will face from the regime, firmness in our solidarity when attempts will be made to break it, and commitment towards inviting and incorporating other potential allies as equals in this movement.”

“We pronounce that 2019 is a year of reclaiming our democracy and taking back our powers and rights as enshrined within the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, the Constitution of Zanzibar and other enabling pieces of legislation. We will hold public rallies in any and all corners of the United Republic of Tanzania. We will not allow an unconstitutional and unlawful order to restrict us to our individual constituencies. If the government is threatened by us exercising our constitutional rights, we dare them to take us to court.”

“We declare that we will unanimously embrace all citizens and all social and economic groups in the country willing to conquer their fears and join the grand coalition that we envisage to defend our democracy. We vow that we will no longer be silenced or intimidated; we will no longer succumb to the state sanctioned violence against our individual and collective rights and entitlements. We commit ourselves to taking this message of freedom to all our fellow leaders, constituents, and allies and support them in taking action, whether small or large, as a symbol of solidarity.”

In response, the deputy Minister of Home Affairs Hamad Yusuph Masauni immediately warned the opposition that they will face stern action from the state if they dared to go through with their plans.

Meanwhile, in Belgium, recuperating Singida East MP (Chadema) Tundu Lissu said that he was homesick as he marked one year since surviving an “assassination” attempt in Dodoma. Mr Lissu, was sprayed with 32 bullets out which 16 hit him when returning home after a parliamentary session. He was rushed to the Dodoma Referral Hospital, then to Nairobi in Kenya and finally to Belgium where he has made good progress. Speculation has grown that Lissu may be given the opportunity to contest for the presidency in 2020 on the Chadema ticket.

Nutty politics
The row over trade in cashew-nuts and the related tax revenues – see TA121 – took a new twist with the harvest of the 2018 crop. Farmers and middle-men refused to sell the crop to international traders on the grounds that the price being offered was lower than the cost of production.

With prices having fallen since 2017 for cashews on the global market, traders were reportedly offering farmers TSh 3,300 per kilogramme, down from TSh 4,500 a year earlier.

President John Magufuli ordered a 94% increase in the domestic price to help the farmers, but few private buyers were willing to pay the higher price. As a result, the President directed the government to buy the estimated 220,000 tonne crop, through the army and the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB).

Military personnel have since been ferrying truckloads of the crop purchased by the government to selected storage areas.

In recent years, cashews have been the leading agricultural export product for Tanzania, with a reported value of USD $340m in 2017. This easily surpasses earnings from coffee, cotton, tea, cloves and sisal combined.

The President further directed that if no international buyers could be found to purchase the crop from the government, Tanzania would process the nuts in-country.

The country’s cashew processing plants, however, have been under-used for years and were found to be in poor condition. The Minister of Trade and Industry, Joseph Kakunda, removed two senior civil servants over the issue, citing negligence which he said had led to deterioration of the factories. “We can’t have people whose speed of work can’t match that of President Magufuli, said Mr Kakunda.”

According to reports, Mtwara has eight processing factories with an annual capacity of 12,500 tonnes. A further facility in Lindi region, which can reportedly process up to 20,000 tonnes annually when fully operational, was repossessed by the government from its private owner. However, this still leaves the country well short of capacity to process the estimated 220,000 tonne crop.

In addition to their roles in purchasing and transporting the crop, the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) were instructed to evaluate the state of the factories and then bring them up to standard.

The purchase of cashews was also beset by problems. It emerged that many of those trying to sell nuts were not themselves farmers, but rather middle-men who had previously purchased the crop from farmers. The government directed that only those who could prove that they had themselves produced the crop, leaving traders facing the prospect of huge losses.

Observers have also argued that the imposed arrangements which guarantee farmers to receive the whole price, without the usual deductions for farm inputs, transport and other administrative costs will likely complicate loan recovery, especially for cooperative unions and farmer associations as well as private suppliers. An arrangement where farmers were being deducted TSh 30 per kilo to fund local education programmes will also be disrupted. Mtama MP and former minister Nape Nnauye told Parliament that TSh 400 million was raised this way for Lindi region last season.

President Magufuli sacked both the Minister of Agriculture Charles Tizeba and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Charles Mwijage in a mini-Cabinet reshuffle, disbanded the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania and revoked the appointment of board chairperson Anna Abdallah.

The President’s actions on this issue have been popular with farmers in the southern cashew-growing regions of Mtwara and Lindi, but serious questions remain unanswered. Will the government find buyers on the international market willing to pay higher prices, will it be able to process a sufficient quantity of nuts within Tanzania, or will the government be left holding a product that nobody will buy and nobody can process? What will be the medium and long-term impact on the agricultural economy in Mtwara and Lindi, including other actors such traders, transporters, cooperative unions and providers of credit as well as farmers themselves?

The legality of some aspects of what has become known as “Operation Korosho” has been called into question, particularly the source of funds to purchase the nuts.

“The government needs 600 billion Shillings to pay farmers. This money requires parliamentary approval,” wrote opposition leader Zitto Kabwe on Twitter. “If the President wants to do this without following the law we will oppose him.”

Dr. Azaveli Lwaitama, a lecturer from Josiah Kibira University College, raised further questions: “I am a bit confused as to where the government is going to get the money with which to buy the cashew nuts at a price that free market traders are reluctant to pay. I am also confused about the extent to which the army personnel would quickly master the trade skills required in buying [and processing] the cashew nuts.”

“Finally, I am a bit confused about what will be the psychological frame of mind that will be generated among cashew nut farmers who will, in this case, stand across army personnel, presumably in army uniform, engaging in the business of selling their cashews. Was it not in Mtwara Region where the army was once deployed to educate the natives of those areas on the importance of allowing gas to flow from their region to Dar es Salaam? Perhaps the army personnel will be advised to wear business suits rather than army or national service uniforms!! It is certainly going to be an interesting situation for journalists to witness and share with the public, if allowed to do so!”

Rights and diplomacy
A diplomatic tiff between the government of Tanzania and several western governments, including major aid donors, was sparked by a crackdown on the LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender plus) community in Dar es Salaam.

The region’s firebrand Regional Commissioner, Paul Makonda, a close ally of President Magufuli, announced in early November the formation of a “hunting force” to seek out members of the LGBT+ community. The task force was to include members of the armed forces alongside the police and secret service.

This provoked an immediate international outcry, including condemnation from the UN Human Rights chief, Michelle Bachalet, the Tánaiste (Deputy Head of Government) of Ireland, Simon Coveney, and the Government of Denmark. The World Bank temporarily suspended travel by its representatives to Tanzania, on the grounds that it could not guarantee the security of LGBT+ employees.

In response the Tanzanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs slapped down the Regional Commissioner, issuing a statement: “The government of the United Republic of Tanzania would like to clarify that these are Paul Makonda’s personal views and not the position of the government.” It added that the government would “continue to respect all international human rights conventions which it subscribes to”. The crackdown effectively stopped before it had even begun.

Nevertheless, the diplomatic storm continued to roll on. The Danish government suspended USD $9m in aid payments, pending a review of the human rights and civic space situation in the country.

The European Union Ambassador, Roeland van de Geer, left the country at short notice, recalled to Brussels. He was reportedly given an ultimatum to leave the country. The EU then issued a statement saying he had been “recalled to headquarters for consultations at political level over the situation in Tanzania.”

The EU office in Dar es Salaam then released a short statement in which it suggests its fallout with Tanzania had been due to concerns about human rights issues and the rule of law. “The EU regrets the deterioration of the human rights and rule of law situation in the country (Tanzania) and will be conducting a broader review of its relations with Tanzania,” read the statement.

Members of the United States Senate released a letter expressing concern regarding Tanzania’s worsening human rights situation. Cosigned by Senators Robert Menendez, Edward J. Markey, Christopher J. Coons and Cory A. Booker, the statement is addressed to Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State. It decries the shrinking civic and political space that have been leading to erosion of civil liberties and democratic gains in Tanzania.

On the same day, the EU Parliament adopted a resolution taking stock of the human rights situation in Tanzania. The resolution reads, in part: “Tanzanian authorities must stop suppressing the country’s LGBTI community, and repeal laws criminalising homosexuality. MEPs express their serious concern about the deteriorating political situation in Tanzania, which has worsened since the election of President John Pombe Magufuli in 2015.”

The EU Parliament’s resolution clearly shows two related aspects of the international community’s concerns regarding human rights in Tanzania. First, there is the specific issue of the crackdown on rights of the LGBT community. Second, there is wider concern about the human rights environment in Tanzania as a whole. While the former issue has prompted a far more strident response from the diplomatic community than growing concerns about rights in general, this can be seen in part as “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. It is also likely in part a reflection of the domestic politics with the EU and US, where LGBT rights are higher on the public agenda than broader – and perhaps less clear-cut – general human rights concerns.

Within Tanzania, the former Executive Director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Dr Hellen Kijo-Bisimba, put the blame on Makonda’s appointing authority, President John Magufuli. She said that the President’s failure to hold his appointee accountable has intensified Makonda’s sense of impunity. “The RC has become so arrogant knowing that nothing can happen to him no matter what he does,” she said.
Under British colonial-era laws, homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania and same-sex acts between men are punishable by a maximum life sentence.

Anti-gay sentiment has increased under President Magufuli’s administration, forcing most gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities to live in secrecy. AIDS clinics have also been shut down, accused of “promoting” homosexuality.

President intervenes in pension dispute
President Magufuli personally intervened in a pension dispute that threatened to affect the pension entitlements of many retiring civil servants.
Following the merger of several pension funds into a single fund for public servants, Public Service Social Security Fund (PSSSF), the government had enacted new regulations that would have dramatically altered payment of civil service pensions. Previously, retiring civil servants were entitled to a lump-sum payment immediate on retirement worth 50% of their pension savings, with the remaining amount spread over monthly payments for 12 years. The new regulations would have halved the amount provided up-front and increased monthly payments.

Several trade unions leaders and MPs complained about the new arrangements, saying they had been imposed without consultations and that the government had “tried to sneak them through” without proper scrutiny.

President Magufuli stepped in and quashed the new pensions payment formula. Just hours later, he fired the Social Security Regulatory Authority (SSRA) director general, Irene Isaka. He further directed that a team of stakeholders be formed to come up with an agreeable pension payment formula.

The President’s move will benefit more than 58,000 public sector workers set to retire between now and 2023, the window within which the old pension payment formula will remain in effect. It was not immediately clear if those who recently retired under the new law and whose lowly payments raised the hue and cry will be considered for a top-up.

Workers welcomed Dr Magufuli’s decision to side with them and order a fresh look at the pension payments across the board.

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ZANZIBAR

by Ben Taylor

Where next for Maalim Seif?
The political scene in Zanzibar continues to be dominated by fallout from the 2015 elections. With the next elections scheduled for less than two years from now, it appears inevitable that the hangover from 2015 will play a major part in the 2020 polls.

Central to this is the future of the Isle’s main opposition party, CUF, and its leadership disputes. The power struggle pits one faction supporting Seif Sharif Hamad, the former Zanzibar Vice President and long-time dominant force within the party in Zanzibar, against another supporting Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, the party’s chairman from 1995 to 2015 and four-time CUF Tanzania presidential candidate.

Lipumba withdrew his resignation as party chair in June 2016, having previously resigned in the run-up to the 2015 elections in protest at the party’s endorsement of Chadema presidential candidate, Edward Lowassa. This threw him into a dispute with other senior party figures, in which he won the backing of the Registrar of Political Parties, but the issue remains unresolved in court.

In September 2018, the main opposition party across Tanzania as a whole, Chadema, offered Seif Hamad a lifeline – inviting him to switch parties and run as the Chadema candidate for the Zanzibar presidency in 2020.

The Chairman of the Chadema Party Elders, Hashim Juma, said Chadema was ready to accommodate Mr Hamad. “If he accepts our offer, he will be our flag bearer during forthcoming presidential election,” he said.

He argued that there were elements currently bent on seeing CUF remaining in an endless crisis, and it was therefore wise for Mr Hamad to shift to Chadema where he would receive cooperation to try and oust the ruling CCM from power in Zanzibar.

“All CUF Members of Parliament and those who believe in change have an opportunity to join Chadema. We speak the same language,” he said.

More recently, in December, rumours emerged that Hamad was planning to join ACT Wazalendo, another opposition party, led by firebrand MP Zitto Kabwe.

Mr Hamad refuted the claims. He told The Citizen that since CUF had pending cases at the court, his faction had alternative plans that would only be implemented after the court judgement.

He said claims that they were planning to join ACT Wazalendo wasn’t among the said alternative plan, noting that being one of the CUF founders, it would not be easy for him to leave the party.

Mr Khalifa Suleiman Khalifa, an ally of Prof-Lipumba, had earlier told the press that Mr Hamad planned to join ACT Wazalendo. “Principally, ACT Wazalendo and Mr Hamad have agreed on a deal where Mr Hamad will control the party on the Zanzibar side and Zitto Kabwe will command the party on Mainland Tanzania,” he said.

Mr Kabwe said ACT Wazalendo had no agenda of lobbying CUF leaders to join them, saying Tanzania required strong and best opposition to strengthen its democracy and that disputes within the second largest opposition party were weakening struggles they were making through democratic paths.

“We won’t turn into a hyena that waits for a fight to end so that it would grab the victim in order to benefit ourselves. Our party believes that by doing so we would be committing a political sin,” he said.

There is little doubt that Seif Hamad commands great personal support among residents of Zanzibar. It is unclear, however, how many of his supporters would follow him to another party, were he to switch. Much apparent party loyalty in Tanzania is, in reality, loyalty to individual politicians. But were Hamad to run for President of Zanzibar on a non-CUF ticket, it seems likely that the main beneficiaries would be the ruling party, CCM, profiting from a divided opposition.

Zanzibar pays its electricity bills
The Zanzibar Electricity Corporation (ZECO) has paid TSh 45 billion (approximately USD $20m) to the Tanzania National Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) over the past 18 months. The money is out of TSh 65 billion debt for power supply to the Isles, and that the corporation has projected to settle the remaining bill of TSh20 billion by June 2019.

President John Magufuli last year directed Tanesco to cut power to customers with long-standing debts, irrespective of who they were. He said Tanesco should not hesitate to disconnect even State House if his office did not pay its electricity bills on time, adding that there should be no sacred cows in the cash-strapped public utility’s endeavour to recover huge sums in unpaid bills.

The Union and Zanzibar governments and institutions are among Tanesco’s biggest debtors, having accumulated debts totalling tens of billions of shillings.

Addressing the media in March 2017, Zanzibar President Ali Mohammed Shein had said Zanzibar’s debt had accumulated over 20 years, adding that he was not sure whether the archipelago would not be disconnected. “We will have no option but to use oil lamps if power is cut,” he was quoted saying.

This led to discussions between leading politicians of both Tanzania and Zanzibar, and leaders of both electricity companies, which put in place a schedule of repayments.

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CONSTITUTION

by Enos Bukuku

The cost of a new Constitution
It may seem odd to many people that a document as important and as sacred as a constitution can be valued in monetary terms. The importance of such a document must surely outweigh the time, effort and costs involved in bringing it into existence.

Tanzania already has a constitution but it is clear that it is no longer fit for purpose and that is why former President Kikwete kickstarted the process of creating a new constitution which would better serve Tanzanians.

However, his successor President Magufuli is not convinced that it is so important to rekindle the dying embers of the proposed katiba that his predecessor had ignited with such fanfare. During the very early stages of his presidency he informed the nation that a new constitution is not a priority. It is now just over 3 years since he took office and until recently it was not clear how far up his priority list this issue had moved.

He recently spoke at a symposium at the University of Dar es Salaam during which he maintained that a new constitution is not a priority, is an expensive task, and that he would rather spend the money on national development projects.

As has been the case since he took office, there have been several politicians, interest groups and individuals who have called for the government to proceed with the rewriting of the constitution. Former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa and Joseph Butiku, the Executive Director of the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation, have called for the draft constitution prepared by the Constitutional Review Committee, to be adopted.

The Council of Islamic Organisations has also called for a new constitution ahead of the 2020 elections. Sheikh Issa Ponda, the Council’s secretary, voiced his concerns by saying; “There is no way we can register big achievements without a new constitution before the 2020 polls. People are tired of the current situation and under this constitution, we don’t believe that there will be a free and fair election. There is a need to have an independent electoral commission.”

Getting to this stage of rewriting the constitution has cost over TSh 116 billion so far. It would be a dreadful waste of public money if the quest for a new katiba is abandoned and those costs written off. No one seems to talk about, or even know, how much more funds are likely to be needed to complete the process.

It does make one think that it is a price worth paying.

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HEALTH

by Ben Taylor

Staff at North KCMC Regional Hospital pictured during a visit by Dr Faustine Ndugulile on Nov 22 (uptymes.com)

Disagreements over family planning
President John Magufuli spoke in September against birth control and family planning. In doing so, he reignited a debate that had largely died down after a similar flare-up early in his presidency.

Speaking at a rally in Meatu, the President advised people to ignore those advocating birth control, some of it coming from foreigners, “because it has sinister motives”. “Those going for family planning are lazy, because they are afraid they will not be able to feed their children. They do not want to work hard to feed a large family. And that is why they opt for birth control and end up with one or two children only,” he said. “You people of Meatu keep livestock. You are good farmers. You can then feed your children. Why would you opt for birth con­trol? These are my views, but I do not see any need for birth control in Tanzania,” he said.

He added: “I have travelled to Europe and elsewhere and I have seen the side effects of birth control. In some countries they are now strug­gling with declining population growth. They have no labour force,” President Magufuli, who was on a tour of Lake Zone regions said.

He urged Tanzanians to keep reproducing because the government was increasing investment in maternal health specifically and the health sec­tor in general. This echoes he previous argument, back in 2016, that his government’s decision to end school fees meant people could give birth to as many children as possible because education was no longer expen­sive. “Women can now throw away their contraceptives. Education is now free,” President Magufuli had said.

On this more recent occasion, President Magufuli was speaking in the presence of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representa­tive in Tanzania Jacqueline Mahon and the minister for Health Ummy Mwalimu.

The main opposition party, Chadema, criticised the President’s state­ments, and pledged to mobilise the public to safeguard family planning initiatives. “We expected the President to be at the forefront of sup­porting family planning initiatives amid challenges the country faces, especially in planning our highly populated cities and dealing with the job crisis. We want to mobilise the public to safeguard birth control initiatives to better our country and enhance maternal health,” said the party’s Secretary General, Dr Vincent Mashinji.

“All children have the right to education. In facilitating this, family plan­ning education has played a great role in protecting young girls from dropping out of school due to early pregnancies,” he said. The party also called upon all men to always accompany their wives to clinics so that they could get to learn more about family planning as an important thing in the current challenging times.

Less than two weeks later, the government sent a letter to organisations carrying out family planning activities in Tanzania to stop them from broadcasting family-planning adverts in local media.

In the letter, which leaked and then spread rapidly on social media, the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Mpoki Ulisubisya, ordered organisations including Family Health International (FHI 360) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to stop airing all content on family planning until it is revised by the government. “The ministry intends to revise the contents of all your ongoing Radio and TV spots for family planning, thus I request you to stop with immediate effect airing and publishing any family planning contents in any media channels until further notice,” reads the letter in part.

Contacted by The Guardian for further clarification, Dr Ulisubisya stated: “We (ministry) want to come up with a standard message for the public on the matter of family planning.”

In a sign of how media and politics are tightly intertwined and indeed highly polarised, reporting of the issue varied greatly between gov­ernment-owned and privately-owned media outlets. The government-owned Daily News ran the headline “JPM touches on family planning”. This was followed by a statement in the article’s opening line that the President had “emphatically stated that Tanzanian parents have the freedom to have whatever number of children they wish provided they are capable of meeting their basic demands.”

In contrast, The Citizen newspaper focussed on the more contentious elements of the President’s speech, citing his reference to foreigners with sinister motives as well as the link he drew between family plan­ning and laziness.

Amnesty International called on the government to remove laws and other barriers to women and girl’s access to information and services they need to live healthier lives. “The Tanzanian authorities must imme­diately stop obstructing access to sexual and reproductive health ser­vices and end the intimidation of anyone providing information about such services, be they health workers, journalists or activists,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

Tanzania has ratified the Maputo Protocol, which states that women have the right to control their fertility and chose any method of contra­ception, but in practice access to services is limited. A third of women in Tanzania use family planning, according to the UN population fund (UNFPA), with access most limited in rural areas. On average, women give birth to five children.

The United Nations Population Fund, which supports and advocates for improved access to family planning services in many African coun­tries, said its programs were guided by the International Conference on Population and Development agreement, which Tanzania has signed. “A core part of this agreement is to ensure that women have the power and means to access information and services to enable them to decide on the timing, spacing, and number of children,” UNFPA said.

In a fact-sheet published two weeks prior to the President’s rally in Meatu, USAID described their commitment to family planning in Tanzania:

“Family planning is key to Tanzania’s broad-based development, saves lives by helping reduce maternal morbidity and mortality, and increases newborn and child survival rates. USAID began supporting family planning in Tanzania in the late 1980s with a focus on increasing the prevalence rate of modern contraceptives, proving instrumental in building Tanzania’s national program.”

“USAID’s family planning programs are integrated with other health services and non-health programs which contribute to the U.S. Government and Tanzania Government goals of reducing maternal mortality and improving child survival.”

Minister sets ambitious health insurance target: universal coverage by 2020
The government aims to achieve universal coverage of health insur­ance by 2020, according to the Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Faustine Ndugulile. Dr Ndugulile was responding to a question in Parliament.

Dr Ndugulile said NHIF was now serving over 17 million people (32% of the population), with efforts to expand to all areas of the country. “So far NHIF is serving millions of Tanzanians, efforts are underway to ensure that all the people are reached by its service,” he said. He added that the Fund continued to implement its strategy to expand its services and enrol members from both formal and informal sectors, including social service for entrepreneurs and children under 18 years.

Dr Ndugulile had already announced a new government strategy to start providing bundles of health insurance – which he described as being similar to packages of mobile phone airtime and other services – to ensure every Tanzanian could afford the service.

He pointed out that a good number of people in lower income brackets were currently left out of the national health insurance service, thus denying them access to quality health care. “Our aim is to ensure that everyone is served. The government is really committed to seeing that health care is improved…this time the government has also increased the budget for the health sector,” he said.

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CHANGES AT THE TOP OF GOVERNMENT AND PARTY

by Ben Taylor

President Magufuli at the controls of the new Air Tanzania Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner (See “Transport”) – photo State House

President Magufuli carried out a minor cabinet reshuffle in July, the most prominent act of which was the sacking of the ambitious Home Affairs Minister, Mwigulu Nchemba. In his place, the President promoted Kangi Lugola from his position as Deputy Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office for Union Affairs and the Environment.

The reshuffle also saw Isack Kamwelwe and Prof Makame Mbarawa swap places as Minister of Water and Irrigation and Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, with Prof Mbarawa moving to the water docket. While not a cabinet post, the President also appointed a new chairman of the National Electoral Commission, Justice Semistocles Kaijage.

This followed a few weeks after the long-standing CCM Secretary General, Abdul-Rahman Kinana, resigned from his post. President Magufuli, as party chairman, moved swiftly to appoint Dr Bashiru Ally as his replacement. The appointment was confirmed by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

President Magufuli, while not mentioning former Minister Nchemba by name, appeared to explain the reasons for his sacking in a speech two days later. He listed a long series of problems at the Home Affairs Ministry, including a controversial TSh 37bn contract where the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) said in his report that the work was not done, despite the payment of billions of shillings. The contract involved a deal between a private company, Lugumi Enterprises, and the police force for the installation of 108 forensic machines in some police stations in the country.

The President also mentioned a multimillion shilling contract for the purchasing of police uniforms that were never delivered, failure to resolve a shortage of fire engines, recurrent road accidents, and the purchase of 777 police cars through a shoddy contract. According to the President, some of the cars were declared to be new while in reality, they had covered over 400 kilometres each.

The list continued with mention of what the President described as an influx of illegal immigrants, as well as haphazard issuance of work permits, misuse of funds by the National Identification Authority (NIDA), and a “lack of scrutiny” in the registration of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The President said some NGOs were operating against the country’s ethics and traditions.

Dr Magufuli went on to challenge the new Minster, Kangi Lugola, to ensure that prisoners were involved in productive activities instead of staying idle. “In other countries, prisoners are involved in productive activities. The law should also be reviewed, so that prisoners on death row can be deployed productively.”

The appointment of Dr Bashiru – a long-standing supporter of constitutional reform – to the influential post of CCM Secretary General was seen by some as surprise choice. Dr Bashiru, a university academic had previously held only weak ties to the ruling party, to the extent that he felt compelled in his first days in office to publicly clarify that he was, in fact, a CCM member.

Dr Bashiru’s one clear previous link to the party had been that President Magufuli had appointed him as chair of a committee charged with investigating CCM’s assets. The party owns various properties across the country, and should earn a steady revenue as a result, but accountability has been weak and many assets have been effectively privatised. The committee’s investigation was a first step towards regaining control over the party’s wealth, which could then strengthen its financial autonomy and bureaucratic organisation. Having led the investigation, Bashiru will now be in charge of overseeing implementation of the committee’s recommendations.

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OPINION POLL SURPRISE, AND REACTION

by Ben Taylor

A new public opinion survey by Twaweza released in July found that the popularity of President Magufuli has declined sharply. Just over half the population (55%) say they now approve of the President’s performance, down from 71% in 2017 and a massive 96% in 2016. This means President Magufuli has registered both the highest and lowest presidential approvals ratings on record in Tanzania.

The poll also found that a majority of citizens (55%) would vote for President Magufuli if an election were held now, followed by the Chadema candidate, who would secure 15% of the vote. As such, President Magufuli would secure a comfortable majority. It is notable, however, that nearly one in three voters (29%) said they were unsure who they would vote for, considerably higher than similar polls in previous years.

The decline in President Magufuli’s approval rating was sharpest among residents of rural areas, such that the President is now more popular in urban areas than rural.

The CCM secretary of Ideology and Publicity, Humphrey Polepole said President Magufuli’s popularity ratings would increase significantly by end of the year. “I call on Twaweza to conduct a similar study at the end of the year after the government has made significant progress in the implementation of priority projects,” he said.

Within a week of the poll findings being released, Twaweza found itself embroiled in difficulties with the Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH). The COSTECH acting Director General, Dr Amos Nungu, wrote to Twaweza, questioning whether the organisation had the proper permits to conduct the poll and giving Twaweza seven days to explain why legal action should not be taken against them.

At a press conference, however, COSTECH leaders found themselves under pressure from reporters, unable to explain what law or regulation Twaweza was alleged to have broken or even whether a COSTECH research permit was required for an opinion poll.

Several activists and analysts spoke out in support of Twaweza. Maria Sarungi-Tsehai, the Change Tanzania director, argued that the saga is politically-motivated. “Twaweza has issued a number of opinion polls on different topics. In fact last year, a very similar poll on people’s views of politics and approval ratings of leaders including the President was published, yet we saw no query from COSTECH,” she said. She described the commission’s move as part of a “clear pattern of reprimand” by government agencies aimed at putting pressure on private actors when there is an impression they are not acting as desired by the authorities.

Fatma Karume, the recently-elected president of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS), said Twaweza had breached no rules or standards in its recent or previous opinion polling. “I think it’s very important for those chosen to head various government agencies to be well-versed in the laws establishing them, otherwise they would be abusing their power,” she stated.

Semkae Kilonzo, coordinator at Policy Forum, an NGO, said that any attempt at stifling opinion polls is an infringement on the rights of people. “Opinion polls are crucial for a vibrant democracy as they give people the opportunity to air their views and express an opinion about how they are governed,” he said.

A few weeks later, the Executive Director of Twaweza, Aidan Eyakuze, announced that immigration authorities had confiscated his passport and barred him from travelling outside the country. Mr Eyakuze said he could not associate this move with the opinion poll findings or the COSTECH response. “They didn’t tell me the reason behind confiscating my passport or why they didn’t want me to travel outside the country,” he said. However, the seizure of his passport took place a few days after a TV programme to discuss the poll findings aired allegations by one guest that Mr Eyakuze was not a Tanzanian citizen.

[Full disclosure: the author of this piece and editor of Tanzanian Affairs works as a consultant for Twaweza.]

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CASHEWNUTS

by Ben Taylor
A proposal to amend the Cashewnut Industry Act as part of the 2018/19 budget met with a furious response from a section of MPs in parliament. The amendment, part of the Finance Bill 2018, was designed to collect all export levies from cashewnuts in the consolidated fund, rather than providing 65% to farmers through the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania as had previously been the case.

Cashew exports accounted for US$341 million in the year to March 2017, the latest date for which official trade statistics have been published. This is more than the combined earnings over the same period from coffee, cotton, tea, cloves and sisal.

MPs from cashewnut-growing regions – primarily Mtwara and Lindi – spoke vociferously against the change. Nape Nnauye (CCM, Mtama) and Hawa Ghasia (CCM, Mtwara Rural) – both former ministers – spoke strongly. The Parliamentary Budget Committee, chaired by Ms Ghasia, published data showing that the government had failed to remit a total of TSh 200 billion for financial years 20115/16 and 2016/17 to the Cashewnut Development Fund as per the Cashewnut Industry Act requirement that 65% of export levies be channelled back to farmers.

The argument proved to be the trickiest sticking point in the debate over the 2018/19 budget. At one point, the house was adjourned to give time for discussions between the Budget Committee and the Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Philip Mpango. An opposition MP, Mr Ahmad Katani (CUF, Tandahimba) warned the Minister against visiting Mtwara and Lindi regions. The controversial amendment was eventually enacted.
A few weeks later, however, Ms Ghasia and the Budget Committee Vice-Chair, Jitoson Patel, both resigned from their positions on the committee, for reasons that were not explained.

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