Archive for Politics

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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DEFECTIONS TO CCM

by Ben Taylor

A series of high-profile defections of opposition figures to CCM has raised questions about the state of politics in Tanzania.

Around 70 opposition members including councillors and MPs have left other parties to join – or rejoin – CCM in recent months. This includes MPs Julius Kalanga (Monduli constituency), Mwita Waitara (Ukonga), Godwin Mollel (Siha), Maulid Mtulia (Kinondoni) and Zubery Kachauka (Liwale). Prominent CUF leader, Julius Mtatiro also left the party to join CCM, and a few months earlier, former Chadema presidential candidate, Dr Wilbroad Slaa joined CCM.

Various reasons are given for the defections. Some, including Mtulia and Mollel, have claimed great satisfaction with President John Magufuli’s performance. Others, including Waitara, say they had lost faith in their former parties after finding themselves criticised for collaborating with the government in development activities in their constituencies.

Accusations have been made that defectors to CCM have been “bought,” though there is no clear-cut evidence to support this claim.

Nevertheless, several public figures have argued that such a high rate of defections is not good for national politics, as it is likely to lead to disillusionment with politics among citizens. Several recent by-elections, including those to replace or re-elect defecting MPs, saw voter turnouts below 50%.

Dr Richard Mbunda of the University of Dar es Salaam argued that “self-disenfranchisement is disastrous both for the electorate and the government. The latter loses legitimacy while the former find themselves governed by policies they haven’t consented to.” He argued that legitimacy, once lost, is hard to regain, and civil disobedience is the likely result of being governed by an illegitimate government.

CCM Ideology and Publicity secretary Humphrey Polepole has said the opposition will continue to lose prominent leaders and members in the ongoing wave of defections. He claimed that many members of Parliament and councillors have requested to join CCM, noting that the decision was primarily caused by Chadema national chairman Freeman Mbowe’s poor leadership. “They complain of lacking coordination from top leaders. I predict that Chadema’s downfall will continue,” he said.

However, Mr Mbowe assured Chadema supporters that the defections would strengthen, not destroy, the party. “Chadema is strengthened by these defections because we are left with true leaders and members who are ready to build a strong opposition in the country,” he said.

CUF deputy secretary general for the Mainland, Ms Magdalena Sakaya, said she was shocked with developments that she said were “bad for democracy”. “Looking at the bigger picture you realise it’s a project to kill the opposition,” she said.

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GOVERNMENT DEFENDS STIEGLER’S GORGE DAM PROJECT

by Ben Taylor

Map showing the proposed Stiegler’s Gorge project -background map from www.openstreetmap.org

The government remain undeterred in its plans to construct a large dam in the Rufiji River, at Stiegler’s Gorge in the Selous Game Reserve, [see also TA 120] despite concerns expressed by conservationists and MPs.

Conservation groups including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have raised concerns since the project was mooted in 2009 and have consistently called for the project to be abandoned. The IUCN called the project “fatally flawed.”

The Selous Game Reserve is one of the last major expanses of wilder­ness in Africa. It’s a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site the size of Switzerland. Since 2014, it has been on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger, primarily because of elephant poaching. In less than 40 years, the park lost 90% of its elephants.

However, the planned hydropower dam could have an even more devastating impact. At 130 meters (427 feet) in height and stretching 700 meters across the canyon, the dam will create a lake of 1,500 square kilometres and will generate up to 2,100 MW of power.

“The dam would destroy one of the most important habitats for wildlife and the heart of the game reserve, where most of the animals roam, especially in the dry season. It would open up that whole area for indus­trialization, infrastructure and settlements,” said Johannes Kirchgatter of the Africa Program for WWF Germany. “If you’re standing in the middle of Selous now, it’s a fantastic wilderness, there is wildlife all over, and all of that would be gone… It would be a great loss for us and the generations to come.”

The dam would also have a significant impact on livelihoods further downstream. A WWF report found the dam would trap most of an estimated 16 million tons of sediment and nutrients carried by the river every year, leading to soil erosion and cutting off lakes and farmland downstream. The Rufiji delta, home to fish, shrimp and prawn fisher­ies, as well as the largest mangrove forest in East Africa, would also be starved of water. In all, the construction of the dam could damage the livelihoods of over 200,000 farmers and fishermen, according to the WWF.

The IUCN said that the project is ‘fatally flawed’ because of its ecologi­cal impact. It called on Tanzania to ‘permanently abandon’ it.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, wrote a letter in January expressing her concern about the irreversible damage the pro­ject could have on the Selous. The World Heritage Committee (WHC) of UNESCO, which lists the Selous as a World Heritage Site, expressed its “utmost concern,” saying the dam project has a “high likelihood of [causing] serious and irreversible damage.” The WHC added the Stiegler’s Gorge project as a new factor that endangers the Selous eco­system.

The government rejects this criticism. When WWF published its report in 2017, tourism minister Jumanne Maghembe insisted the hydropower was needed to transform Tanzania’s economy.

President John Magufuli has said the dam and resulting reservoir would cover only 3% of the Reserve, adding that he would not listen to detractors who spoke “without facts.”

The government is pushing ahead to fell more than 2.6 million trees from the area that would be flooded by the dam.

Now Tanzania has taken its defence of the project to UNESCO. At the 42nd meeting of the World Heritage Committee, held in June in Bahrain, Tanzania cited sustainable development to push for the project.

Major General (rtd) Gaudence Milanzi, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, said Tanzania has main­tained its position to continue with the project as stated during a meet­ing of the committee in Poland last year. He explained that the dam was primed to play a critical role in the vision of the government to industrialise the economy.

In a separate development, the Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office for Union Matters and the Environment, January Makamba, stated on Twitter that a new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been completed, such that the previous EIA published in 2009 will no longer be used. The new EIA has been conducted by the Institute of Resource Assessment of the University of Dar es Salaam, he explained. “Its report was submitted last week by Tanesco,” he posted. “A team from [the National Environmental Management Committee] (NEMC) will visit the project this week to verify and talk to the community and stakeholders.”

MPs have also questioned the order of developments, asking why the decision to fell so many trees had been taken before the EIA had been completed. “I wonder why the government wants to move on with the project and yet we know well there will be an impact, especially due to felling of trees. Let us get the EIA n the project,” said Peter Msigwa (Chadema, Iringa Urban). Similar points were made by Zitto Kabwe (ACT Wazalendo, Kigoma Urban) and Nape Nnauye (CCM, Mtama).

Other MPs disagreed. “The tone here is as if all trees around the country will be cleared. Some people are just not patriotic; and I think patriotism should be taught starting from nursery school,” said Mr Omary Mgumba (CCM, Morogoro Rural). “The environment exists to serve human beings and not the opposite.” Dr Raphael Chegeni (CCM, Busega) asked MPs to reduce complaints as projects such as Stiegler’s Gorge were a result of their demand to ensure reliable power genera­tion.”

The Deputy Minister in the Vice President’s Office for Union Affairs and the Environment, Mr Kangi Lugola, told parliament the government would go on with implementation of the project “whether you like it or not.” He added that “those who are resisting the project will be jailed.” Mr Lugola has since been promoted to Home Affairs Minister.

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CONSTITUTION

by Enos Bukuku

More groups request change
The Government has remained silent on the issue of implementing a new constitution despite pressure from various sections of society for the process to continue. One of the most outspoken critics had been Dr Bashiru Ally, a University of Dar es Salaam political scientist, who has been calling for the government to restart the process.

However, Dr Ally was appointed CCM’s new Secretary General in May and has stated that he will have to abide by CCM’s stance on the consti­tution. Some cynics might view this as an attempt to keep a vocal critic on the government’s side.

The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) executive director, Dr Hellen Kijo-Bisimba, recently stated that a new constitution is one of three items on the LHRC’s agenda. “The government should put an emphasis on the national consensus for the process to be revived and to provide the country with a new constitution, the process should continue regardless of our starting point. All important issues removed from the draft constitution should be included.”

The Tanzania Constitution Forum (TCF) has called for various changes to both the current constitution and also the national election law to ensure that the political environment surrounding the 2020 elections is peaceful. The TCF Chairman, Mr Hebron Mwakagenda, speaking at the LHRC offices said, “We want peace to be maintained before the 2020 general election that is why we ask the government to consider revisiting these areas. The battle for the new constitution will resume immediately after the elections.”

Since President Magufuli came to power we have heard similar requests on a regular basis from different stakeholders. The President’s response so far has been to say that a new constitution is not high on his list of priorities.

It is clear that the voices of key stakeholders in the constitution process will continue to be directed towards the government and towards those with the influence to effect change. At the moment it does seem as though the decision makers are in no hurry to respond and that a new constitution is still not a priority.

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POLITICAL TENSIONS CONTINUE TO RISE

by Ben Taylor

President Magufuli has continued to press forward with his agenda of anti-corruption, resource nationalism, industrialisation and infrastructure development. Meanwhile, the chorus of voices who are critical of his presidency continues to grow.

President Magufuli and PM Kassim Majaliwa in Ihumwa to launch the second phase of works to update the rail network

Pressing ahead
In the first four months of 2018, the government of Tanzania has inaugurated a major new power plant on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam [see energy and minerals section]; pressed ahead with extending, electrifying and upgrading the central line railway to standard gauge [see transport]; celebrated the arrival of a new aircraft for Air Tanzania [see transport]; and continues to talk up other “mega projects” including a new port at Bagamoyo, the Stieglers’ Gorge hydroelectric dam [see energy and minerals], and a possible Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) processing plant in Lindi [see energy and minerals in previous issues].

Further, it has completed construction of a 25 km “fort” – a wall – around the Tanzanite mine at Mererani, Arusha, in an effort to prevent the gemstones from being stolen or smuggled out without following proper procedures and paying proper revenues. It has long been stated that more Tanzanite is exported from Kenya and India than from Tanzania, though the gemstone’s only source is in Tanzania. The wall was constructed by the national service arm (JKT) of the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF), taking less than 4 months, at a cost of TSh 5.65 billion (USD 2.5m). The President promised government employment to all the JKT volunteers – over 2,000 in number – who participated in the work. Further security measures have been put in place including security cameras and ID cards for personnel permitted within the wall.

The government has also reinstated over 7,000 previously fired or suspended employees who did not possess form four (O-level) certificates, and who were employed before May 20, 2004. This followed calls to do so from MPs, and recognises that form four qualifications were not a requirement for government employment before this date. The reinstatement does not include civil servants who had used fake certificates to secure their employment or who were employed after 2004 without proper qualifications. The government announced that the reinstated employees will be given their full accrued salaries since the time of their dismissal, and will be entitled to full retirement benefits.

Kassim Majaliwa addresses parliament (http://mrokim.blogspot.co.uk)

Some of these developments were among the six issues highlighted by the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, when he outlined government plans contained in the 2018/19 budget. Specifically, the upgrade and expansion of transport networks – including roads as well as rail – and investment in electricity generation were both mentioned. Beyond this, the Prime Minister also pointed to new spending on water supply services, e-governance for revenue collection, relocation of government business to Dodoma, and maintaining economic growth through implementation of strategic development plans.

Chadema leadership arrested

Chadema leadership attend court in Dar es Salaam

Shortly before Easter eight senior figures within the largest opposition party, Chadema, were arrested and charged with several counts including sedition and incitement. The charge sheet initially named six individuals, including the national party chairman, Freeman Mbowe, and secretary general, Vincent Mashinji, as well as John Mnyika, Salum Mwalimu, Rev Peter Msigwa, and John Heche. Two further names were later added, including the chair of the party’s women’s wing, Halima Mdee, and Ester Bulaya.

The charges stem from mid-February, during the parliamentary by-election campaign in Kinondoni constituency in Dar es Salaam. The Chadema leaders are accused of staging unlawful demonstrations – the same occasion that tragically resulted in the death of Akwilina Akwilini (see below).

Among the charges are several accusations that Mbowe and others made seditious statements, defined in Tanzanian law as “statements that are likely to raise discontent and promote feelings of ill-will among inhabitants of the United Republic of Tanzania” or “statements made with intent to bring hatred and contempt to the citizens of the United Republic of Tanzania against the lawful authority of the government.”
All eight of the accused deny the charges.

Professor Abdallah Safari, the party’s deputy chairman, spoke on behalf of the party while Mbowe and the others remained in police custody. “This situation is terrifying and it is the right time to seek for international support in advocating for democracy in the country. Our voices alone cannot be heard; this is the time for everyone to join forces in calling for democratic space and the rule of law.”

Administrative delays meant that although bail had been agreed by the court, it proved impossible to release the suspects before the long Easter weekend. They were therefore released on the Tuesday after Easter, having been held for seven days, subject to a condition that they must report weekly to the court in Dar es Salaam.

Meanwhile, another Chadema MP, Joseph Mbilinyi, was sentenced in February to five months imprisonment. The Mbeya Resident Magistrate Court found him guilty of delivering “hate speech” against President Magufuli in December 2017. A party official, Emmanuel Masonga, was also found guilty on the same charge. Both Mr Mbilinyi and Mr Masonga deny the charges.

Policing concerns
Concerns about police strategies and attitudes have grown, after a number of incidents where policing tactics appeared either to be highly politicised or overly aggressive, including three separate incidents in which the actions of the police appeared to cause the death of civilians.

The first such case was Akwilina Akwiline, a 21-year-old student at the National Institute of Transport. She was killed by a stray bullet while passing the site of a confrontation between police and Chadema supporters in Dar es Salaam. Shots were fired by the police in order to break up the march. This took place in February. No arrests have been made.

The second case followed a month later, in Mbeya. Allen Mapunda, a 20-year-old fruit seller at a local market, was arrested while playing pool with friends one evening, as part of “normal patrols” around the city. He was released on police bail the following day to his family, who say he had cuts and bruises on his arms and head and complained of pain in his abdomen. They took him to hospital where he died later that evening, from what doctors described as “internal injuries”. The police denied any responsibility, saying he was fine when released on bail.

Third, at the end of April, Suguta Chacha, the younger brother of Chadema MP for Tarime, John Heche, was arrested along with others at a bar that was open past its permitted hours, close to the Kenya-Tanzania border. He was stabbed while in custody at the police station, and died on the scene. A police officer has been charged in association with the incident.

These incidents followed concerns raised about policing during local government by-election campaigns in late 2017. The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) reported evidence that police had arrested opposition leaders and agents. LHRC called for the roll of security organs in supervising elections to be reviewed.

Further, the case of Abdul Nondo also attracted wide public attention. Nondo, a student at the University of Dar es Salaam and outspoken chair of the Tanzania Students Networking Programme (TSNP), was reported missing in early March. He re-emerged a day later in Mafinga in Iringa region, where the police arrested him for allegedly faking his own abduction. He was held in police custody for close to three weeks before being charged with any offence. When finally charges were brought, police (unsuccessfully) argued that Nondo should be denied bail for his own safety.

Finally, a journalist with Mwananchi newspaper, Azory Gwanda, has disappeared and the police have reported no progress with investigating his disappearance. Azory had been covering a series of violent incidents against the police, local government and CCM leaders in and around Kibiti, south of Dar es Salaam, and police responses to these attacks.

Growing criticisms
The list of those who have expressed concern at rising political tensions and President Magufuli’s approach to democracy continues to grow.

The US Embassy issued a statement in mid-February that referred to the recent murder – by unknown assailants – of Daniel John and attempted murder of his friend Reginald Mallya, both Chadema members, and called for “a transparent investigation to hold all perpetrators of violence accountable in accordance with Tanzanian law.”

A week later, the European Union delegation in Tanzania issued a more widely ranging statement jointly with the Heads of Mission of the Member States of the European Union in Tanzania and supported by the High Commissioner of Canada and the Ambassadors of Norway and Switzerland:

“We note with concern the recent developments which threaten democratic values and the rights of Tanzanians in a country which is widely respected in the world for its stability, peacefulness and freedoms. We are worried by the rising number of reports of violence in the last months including: the attempt on the life of MP Tundu Lissu; the disappearance of people such as journalist Azory Gwanda; and the lethal assaults upon government representatives, the authorities and citizens which occurred in the Coast Region in the past two years. We join Tanzania’s people in calling upon those responsible, to safeguard the peace and security of democratic process, the country, its citizens and respect for the due process of law without impunity.”

Lent and Easter presented an opportunity for Christian leaders in Tanzania to express their concerns. The Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) of the Roman Catholic church issued a pastoral letter in Dar es Salaam lamenting the deteriorating governance situation in Tanzania, including the restrictions imposed on opposition parties, the repression of mass media and suppression of the freedom of expression. It was signed by all the 36 bishops making up the TEC.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) issued a proclamation, signed by 27 bishops, calling for security organs to ensure that Tanzanians’ lives are properly protected. Leaders of the Anglican and Moravian churches also called for peace, security and justice in their Easter sermons.

In February, more than 100 civil society organisations issued a statement condemning what they called “unprecedented” cases of human rights violations in Tanzania’s history, including “attacks, torture and forced disappearances of rights activists, journalists and even ordinary citizens.”

The government responded to some of these statements, arguing that religion and politics should not be allowed to mix. Further, a statement issued by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Augustine Mahiga, responded directly to the US and EU. This highlighted “the previous conspicuous silence by the envoys on the unprecedented security threats and challenges which Tanzania has been facing in the Kibiti-Mkuranga-Rufiji triangle,” and “the uncompromising bold actions taken by President Magufuli to stump out (sic) corruption, drug trafficking, tax evasion, poaching and enforce accountability in the public and private sectors”.

“The measures by the 5th phase government have evidently enraged powerful elements from within and outside the country with vested interests in laxity that prevailed before. These forces are resisting and fighting the change through insidious means and malicious intent to discredit the government and tarnish its image by aggravated violent criminal actions in a politically manipulated manner.”

“Our guest partners should make an effort to understand these complex scenarios in the country before issuing unverified sensational and what can be inciting statements to the public.”

Perhaps the most stinging criticism, however, came in mid-March from The Economist newspaper, in a rare leader article on Tanzanian politics. The article, headlined “Tanzania’s sickening lurch”, was accompanied by a longer news article in the same issue headlined “Falling into dictatorship: Tanzania’s rogue President.”

“Until recently Tanzania’s political stability drew investors and donors, spurring one of the fastest sustained streaks of economic growth in Africa,” wrote the paper. But “… progress is imperilled by Mr Magufuli, who is transforming a stable, if flawed, democracy into a brutal dictatorship” it continued. “For Western donors to look away as Tanzania descends into oppression would be to discard much of its progress in recent decades. Most of all, Tanzania’s neighbours need to act.”

Fake news, media and social media restraints
The Economist articles kicked up a minor political storm in Tanzania, with online debate raging particularly fiercely. Within days, a rebuttal appeared on a newly established website from a previously unknown “Belgian doctor,” Dr Herman Louise Verhofstadt. The article, which defended President Magufuli’s record, was widely circulated by supporters of the President, including an approving tweet from the Director of Information Services and chief government spokesman, Dr Hassan Abbas, and extended excerpts were published in the two government-owned newspapers, Daily News and Habari Leo.

The rebuttal was then itself rebutted by someone on social media, also claiming to be Dr Herman Louise Verhofstadt, stating that he had never visited Tanzania and adding that “you need a really poorly performing government to come up with a lie like this.”

Commentators quickly concluded that both the article and the twitter rebuttal were a fabrication – neither were backed up by any other evidence or presence, online or otherwise, to give credence. Instead, they appear to be evidence of the politicised nature of the media, including social media, and indeed a prime example of fake news.
Into this context, the government introduced new regulations under the Electronic and Postal Communications Act, to regulate online activities in Tanzania. Among other things, the Online Content regulations, require bloggers and operators of online forums and online TV and radio to register and pay fees to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority. Anyone writing a blog within Tanzania or any Tanzanian citizens doing so from abroad, for example, will be required to pay an annual fee of TSh 1,000,000 (USD 450) to operate their blog. The regulations also prohibit a long list of different types of online content, including anyone posting “disparaging or abusive words, calculated to offend”, “false content” unless accompanied by a statement that the content is satire and not factual, and “content that causes annoyance”.

Critics have pointed out that although fake news is a genuine problem, these regulations go a lot further. One international newspaper described the regulations as “vaguely worded” and pointed out that “no one imagines that political speech will be spared.”

The regulations come on top of existing laws introduced under Presidents Kikwete and Magufuli that have attracted widespread criticism for undermining freedom of expression, including the Statistics Act, Media Services Act and Cybercrimes Act. All three have been used against critics of the government.

Demonstrations that didn’t happen

Mange Kimambi in a youtube video

A US-based Tanzanian socialite and social media activist, Mange Kimambi, attempted to mobilise nationwide peaceful protests on Union Day, April 26. The protests were to be against what she called “suppression of political freedom and human rights abuses” by the Tanzanian government. Opposition parties denied any connection to Kimambi, while the police and national government leaders restated an existing ban on political rallies of any kind, emphasising instead the need to protect the nation’s peace and security “at any cost”.

President Magufuli warned of a crackdown on any protests. “Let them demonstrate and they will see who I am,” he said. Gilles Muroto, police chief in Dodoma, told journalists the police would make protesters suffer: “they will be beaten like stray dogs.”

In the event, the show of force by police on the streets of major Tanzanian towns and cities was far more visible than any protesters. Police marched and showed off their vehicles and other equipment in highly public displays on April 25 in particular, and maintained a heavy presence on the streets on April 26.

“All we can say is that the California girl managed to bring the toughest of our boys down to the streets, in much ado about nothing,” wrote Jenerali Ulimwengu in the East African.

Small protests took place in Washington DC and Sweden, with a few dozen protesters holding placards outside the respective Tanzanian Embassies. Seven protesters in Dar es Salaam were arrested outside the Central Post Office, and a few other suspected “organisers” were arrested in the days before April 26.

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CONSTITUTION

by Enos Bukuku

The list of organisations calling for a new constitution grows longer
At the end of last year, the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition, Tanzania Constitution Forum and representatives of over 80 civil society organisations raised concerns about respect for democracy and human rights in Tanzania, arguing that a key part of the solution would be for the constitutional review process to resume. Added to this list are various religious groups who feel obligated to speak up for the people. One such group is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT). Shortly before Easter, 27 ELCT bishops put their signatures to a document which, amongst other matters, requested that the constitution making process be revived. The ELCT made the following statement:

“Most Tanzanians believe that there is a need for a new constitution, which will address the many challenges that the country is facing…… When someone dies or disappears under mysterious circumstances, security organs should make sure that independent investigations into the matter are conducted so that the culprits can be brought to justice.”

The opposition party Chadema has been consistent in demanding a new constitution over the last couple of years. It has been joined by another opposition party, the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo), led by Zitto Kabwe, which proclaimed it would promote this issue as its main political agenda. One of its secretaries, Mr Ado Shaibu, said, “Our main focus is to make sure that democratic principles are protected – and this will be through enacting a new constitution”. ACT-Wazalendo and Chadema are also aiming to work together on this big push for a long-awaited new Katiba. This potential alliance has similarities with UKAWA. Whilst the alliance may not result in a formal coalition, once again the government’s stance on the constitution is giving opposition parties a strong platform for change.

On 6th February, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, the Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, responded to questions regarding a conflict between the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Constitution of Zanzibar by saying that he sees no reason to amend the constitution. Since his appointment approximately one year ago Prof Kabudi has not offered any signs of support for the growing list of Tanzanians who want to see some progress. As far as the government is concerned, it is not a priority.

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PRESIDENT MAGUFULI CITES SUCCESSES, WHILE ACTIVISTS CRY FOUL

by Ben Taylor

President Magufuli marked his first two years in office by celebrating ten key achievements. The Director General of Tanzania Information Services and Chief government spokesman, Hassan Abbasi, listed these as:

•Restoration of discipline among public servants resulting in an increase of productivity in service delivery.

•Control of government expenditure and enhancemant of value for money in all state funded projects. This included the removal of 32,000 names from the government payroll who were either ghost workers or public servants holding fake academic certificates, saving a total of TShs 378 billion.

•The anti-corruption war, including the establishment of an anti-graft
court, the dismissal of dishonest public officials and the arrest of the alleged masterminds behind the Escrow case.

•Increased control on the protection of natural resources such as minerals, including the signing of three mineral laws and changes which laid reforms in the extractive industry.

•Cost cutting measures that saw fewer foreign trips by government officials and cuts in the budgets for unnecessary workshops.

•Moving the government capital to Dodoma; Mr Abbasi described this as “a dream for a long time, at the beginning no one expected it would
be possible, but the dream has become true.”

•Reduced dependency on donors when it comes to implementing
development projects. He said this was made possible by an increase of government revenue collection of around 50%.

•Bringing social services closer to the people including provision of free education, implementation of water projects across the country, and increased budget for higher education loans.

•Initiation of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), starting with domestic funding, and the revival of Air Tanzania.

•The industrialisation drive which, according to Dr Abbasi, has revived 17 factories and “created a conducive environment that has attracted over 3,000 investors who are building factories all over the country.”

More detail on several of these points can be found elsewhere in this issue, including on mining (energy and minerals section), Air Tanzania (transport), and donor dependency (economics).

Assassination attempt

Tundu Lissu is greeted in hospital by fellow Chadema member Edward Lowassa.

This list of achievements was released two months after prominent Chadema MP, Tundu Lissu, suffered an assassination attempt in Dodoma. His vehicle was followed as he returned home from parliament in the early afternoon of 7th September 2017. Having reached his home, he remained in the car while his driver stepped out to investigate, whereupon unknown assailants fired a hail of bullets into the Landcruiser.

Sixteen bullets hit the politician, mostly in his lower abdomen and legs, but miraculously he escaped with his life. He was rushed to Dodoma General Hospital, where he spent several hours on the operating table before being flown to Nairobi. At the time of writing, around four months later, he is still recovering in Nairobi, making good progress, and reportedly about to fly to Belgium for further treatment.

Nobody has been arrested for the shooting. Lissu’s Chadema colleagues have called on the government to request assistance from the US, to bolster the investigation, but the Minister of Home Affairs, Mwigulu Nchemba rejected the suggestion.

Lissu gave an interview to the (UK) Financial Times from his hospital bed in Nairob, in which he said he believes he was the target of an assassination attempt. He added that in his opinion this is evidence of a campaign to “turn the country into a dictatorship”.

Government spokesman Hassan Abbasi said Lissu’s allegations were misplaced. “If anyone, including Mr Lissu, has any further evidence let him share it with investigators,” he said. “Tanzania is known for its unmatched peaceful and democratic political processes which are conducted according to the laws.”

In addition to his role as an MP and legal affairs spokesman for Chadema, Tundu Lissu is also president of the Tanganyika Law Society. He has been outspoken on a number of issues for several years, including criticising foreign mining interests for not paying a fair amount of tax, and taking issue with the government’s actions on gold mining, Air Tanzania and other matters. On the morning of his shooting Lissu was involved in an argument with the President over a report on mining issues.

Wider criticisms
Since President Magufuli came to office in 2015, there have been a growing number of people expressing concern with his approach to democracy and human rights.

Lissu himself was arrested six times during 2017, and charged with sedition after criticising the President. Zitto Kabwe, who represents ACT Wazalendo, has also been arrested several times (see also economics section, this issue), as have other Chadema MPs and leaders including Halima Mdee and party leader Freeman Mbowe. On one occasion, Godbless Lema of Chadema was arrested for speaking seven minutes longer than his allotted time at a rally. Ester Bulaya, another Chadema MP, was arrested for planning a meeting outside her constituency.

Political rallies and meetings have been banned since 2016, except within an elected politician’s constituency or during official election campaign periods. A forthcoming new law – the Political Parties Bill – has been reported by the Citizen newspaper as set to give this ban, which is currently a directive from the President, permanent legal force.

Four newspapers have been suspended and many others threatened with suspension. Several people have been arrested for expressing opinions online. In December, a student of the University of Dar es Salaam who used social media to post photos of cracks in newly constructed accommodation blocks was arrested by the police.

By-election violence
Local council by-elections in 43 wards in November 2017 were marked by what the Citizen newspaper described as “an unprecedented wave of senseless political violence”, leaving dozens of people injured, some seriously. The ruling party, CCM, and the main opposition party, Chadema, traded accusations.

Following the conclusion of the elections, the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) published a report on the violence. The report outlined the flaws in the by-elections, including improper use of security organs, abductions by unidentified people, arrests and torture of opposition leaders and forceful removal of opposition agents from polling stations.

Acting executive director of LHRC, Anna Henga, said the flaws set a bad precedent for future elections and if left unchallenged they would lead to a breach of the peace. “We will witness growing revenge and political hate among people in the community, which could disrupt peace and security in the country,” she noted.

National Electoral Commission (NEC) director Ramadhan Kailima denied that agents had been chased from polling stations, noting that restrictions were done in accordance with the law and regulations.

Five TV stations were later determined by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) to have broadcast clips from the LHRC report launch in coverage that was “seditious, unbalanced and unethical.” The TV stations have been fined.

Of the 43 contested wards, CCM were victorious in all but one, with the other seat won by Chadema.

Kibiti killings
While the police have claimed victory in Kibiti, to the south of Dar es Salaam, where there has been a wave of killings of local government leaders (see TA 118), concerns remain that the problem may be more entrenched and complex than first thought.

A journalist with the Mwananchi newspaper, Azory Gwanda, who had been reporting on the issue, disappeared in November from his home in Kibiti.

Unidentified dead bodies
In what is probably an unrelated development, a number of dead bodies have washed ashore on Coco Beach in Dar es Salaam, including 17 in a two-week spell in September 2017, according to traders and fishermen working at the beach. The bodies are reported to have been found wrapped in polythene bags, some with rocks tied to the body or with their wrists bound together with rope.

The Minister of Home Affairs, Mwigulu Nchemba, said the government was still investigating, but he suspected the bodies were those of illegal immigrants who had died during their journeys. “The illegal migrants, who include Ethiopians, Somalis and other nationals, are transported like goods… they are squeezed in lorry trailers, as a consequence of which some suffocate and die. Since they transport them illegally, they tend to dump them after dying and proceed with their journeys,” he explained.

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UK AID BOOST

DfID Country Director, Ms Elizabeth Arthy (left), who accompanied the visiting British Minister of State for Africa, Mr Stewart Rory and High Commissioner to Tanzania, Ms Sarah Cooke, at the State House in August with President Magufuli (photo State House)

UK minister of State for Africa, Rory Stewart, visited Tanzania in August 2017, to see how the UK is helping to improve education and health services, and boost jobs and prosperity in Tanzania. As part of his trip, the Minister announced $450 million in funding for development in Tanzania.

Speaking after a meeting with President Magufuli at State House in Dar es Salaam, the minister said “I am very excited to be in Tanzania and to witness the great strides that the country is making in education, providing access to clean water, fighting crime and stamping out corruption. As a key investor and development partner, the UK is committed to supporting the Government of Tanzania to boost economic growth and investment; improve the quality of basic services; and fight organized crime and corruption.”

The minister also visited various projects supported by the UK government, including a primary school and a nearby health facility in Dar es Salaam, the Port of Dar es Salaam and Songas Power Plant. He also met with business and civil society leaders and enjoyed a nyama choma lunch with young Tanzanians.

Dr Magufuli thanked the minister for visiting Tanzania, requesting him to send his regards to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Theresa May, for the support the UK had been extending to the country for development projects.

The president said while “a few people” in the country may be complaining about the ongoing reforms which include a ramped-up anti-corruption drive and tax evasion crackdown, coupled with heavy cuts to government spending, ordinary Tanzanians are now reaping the benefits of these measures. “We must nurture a culture of paying taxes for our development rather that depending on our development partners,” he added.

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