by Ben Taylor

President Hassan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


by Ben Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


by Ben Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


by Ben Taylor

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


by Ben Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


by Ben Taylor

New Constitution briefly back on the table, then off again
Tanzanians may have to wait a little longer for constitutional changes, as a government-sanctioned task force formally proposed in its preliminary report, published in March, that the process should be postponed until after the 2025 General Election. President Samia Suluhu Hassan said she agreed with the idea of making “gradual improvements” rather than wholesale constitutional changes. “Perhaps a complete rewrite won’t be necessary, only in some areas,” she said. “And even if we do have to rewrite the whole document, much of the necessary amendment work will have already been done,” she added.

Task force chair Rwekaza Mukandala said they felt that there is not enough time to adopt a new Constitution within the current electoral cycle. “The process can start immediately after the election, and our proposals on the ways it can be achieved, when the time is right, will be part of our final report to be delivered at a later date,” he said.
Formation of the task force followed pressure from opposition parties, which began the new year by expressing their determination to press for Constitutional review process to be restarted in 2022.

Chadema vice-chairman Tundu Lissu led these calls, saying 2022 would be the start of a new movement to demand a new constitution. “The current Katiba will not solve our problems with the administrative and political system,” he noted.

Lissu explained that the party’s Central Committee met digitally on December 28, 2021 with the aim of shaping the party’s agenda. He said they evaluated the country’s history since the return of the multi-party political system in 1992 and 30 years after Judge Nyalali’s commission proposed the drafting of a new constitution. “We need a new Constitution now, not in 2025. Otherwise CCM will use this current Constitution to steal the election again just as it has always done since multiparty politics returned to Tanzania,” said Mr Lissu. He pledged to return to Tanzania from exile in the near future, so as to lead the movement in person.

Though most opposition parties agree on the need for a new constitution, they disagree on the order of the process. What should come first: A new Constitution addressing all aspects of the reforms agenda on a long-term basis, or “Tume Huru” (an independent electoral commission) ensuring a level playing field for all parties going into the 2025 poll.

Chadema say the Constitution should come first, as this will give the independent electoral commission true independence. ACT Wazalendo say a newly independent commission before 2025 is the priority, enabling better representation of different viewpoints in parliament, and thus also in the process to draft a new Constitution. “We hope that 2022 will be a year of national reconciliation that will achieve the success of finding an Independent Electoral Commission that will facilitate the achievement of a new Constitution acceptable to all,” said Zitto Kabwe, leader of ACT Wazalendo.

Tanzania started the process of writing a new constitution in 2012, after former President Jakaya Kikwete responded to strong opposition demands by appointing a Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) headed by the highly respected former Prime Minister, Judge Joseph Warioba. The team was tasked to conduct extensive nationwide consultations on the new constitution.

However, the Draft Constitution tabled by Judge Warioba at the Constituent Assembly (CA) in February 2014 was radically overhauled by CCM MPs, resulting in a Proposed Constitution that lacked the support of opposition parties and many citizens. This prompted a boycott of CA sessions by the major opposition parties. The CA submitted the Proposed Constitution to the government in October 2014. However, the planned referendum to determine whether it should be formally adopted never happened. Upon coming to office in late 2015, President Magufuli showed no interest in reviving the process.


by Ben Taylor

Cabinet reshuffle in President Hassan’s image?
President Samia Suluhu Hassan began 2022 with a cabinet reshuffle, widely reported as a move to strengthen her hand looking towards the general election in 2025.

The most notable absentees in the new cabinet are William Lukuvi, Kitila Mkumbo, Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi and Geoffrey Mwambe, the former Ministers of Lands and Housing, Industry and Trade, Constitution and Legal Affairs, and Investment respectively. Dr Dorothy Gwajima has been demoted to a less politically sensitive position as Minister of Gender and Social Welfare, from her former position as Minister of Health.

Prominent new ministers include former CCM Publicity Secretary Nape Nnauye, who returns to the cabinet as the Minister of Information, Communications and Information Technology, and Ridhiwan Kikwete, the son of the former President, who is now Deputy Minister of Land, Housing and Human settlements. Other new appointees include:
• Eng Hamad Masauni as Minister of Home Affairs
• Hussein Bashe as Minister of Agriculture with Anthony Mavunde as his deputy
• Prof. Adolf Mkenda as Minister of Education, Science and Technology
• Innocent Bashungwa as Minister of State in the President’s Office for Regional Administration and Local Government
• A newly formed Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry will now be headed by Dr Ashatu Kijaji with Exaud Kigahe as her deputy
• Mohammed Mchengerwa as Minister of Culture, Arts and Sports
• George Simbachawene as Minister of Legal and Constitution Affairs, having moved from Home Affairs
Ministers with responsibility for finance, defence, energy, tourism and foreign affairs remained unchanged.

The President also changed the structure of some ministries. She merged the Investment Ministry which was under the Prime Minister’s Office with the Ministry of Industry and Trade to become the Ministry of Investment, Industry and Trade, and split the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare into a separate Ministry of Health and a Ministry of Community Development, Gender, Women and Special Needs.

One analyst described the change as a purge of Magufuli loyalists, pointing to the departures of Prof Kabudi, Prof Mkumbo and Mwambe, and the absence of the former powerful finance permanent secretary, Dotto James, a close associate of President Magufuli, from the new list of permanent secretaries. The same analyst noted also that the new cabinet includes the return of some prominent figures from the Kikwete era, including Pindi Chana and Nape Nnauye, as well as Ridhiwani Kikwete.

The key factor that forms the context for the reshuffle is the President’s need to consolidate her position within the ruling party, CCM. Having come somewhat unexpectedly to power, she inherited most of the senior figures appointed by her divisive predecessor. She made only minor changes to the cabinet after becoming President, and may be looking towards the 2025 general election with some concern.

The next election is still three and a half years away, but an underground argument rages as to whether or not she should run again for President in 2025. Many within the party, particularly those with their own ambitions for the Presidency and their associates, are pushing the view that her role is to serve out President Magufuli’s second term before handing over to someone else. There is also the fact that later in 2022 there will be internal elections for leadership positions within CCM – positions that will hold considerable influence over the party’s approach to the 2025 election.

The President herself hinted at her motivation for the reshuffle a few days earlier. “All those I feel have their eyes on the 2025 general elections, and work with that in mind, I will relieve of their duties so that they can have an ample time to prepare themselves, but outside the government.”

She also referred to recent public statements by some against her administration’s decision to borrow in order to fund its development programmes, linking this with opposition she is facing within CCM and what she called “election fever” ahead of 2025. The Speaker of Parliament, Job Ndugai, had been particularly outspoken in this regard. He resigned after being criticised by the President – she described his statements as “unimaginable” – leaving a vacancy that would have been more significant in previous years when the opposition had more than a handful of MPs.

“When circumstances handed me this responsibility, there was much talk on ‘interim government’ among MPs,” said the President. “I went to the Constitution to see what it says about ‘interim government’. I did not see anything. I said to myself, okay, let’s go.” She urged her Ministers and senior officials – some of whom she accused of having mixed themselves in factions organising against her – to take her hands and work with her to “bring development to Tanzanians.”


by Ben Taylor

The criminal trial of Freeman Mbowe, leader of the opposition party Chadema, continued throughout late 2021, providing several dramatic twists and turns. Mbowe and three co-accused are on trial for terrorism and economic sabotage, facing six counts including conspiring to blow up fuel stations, endanger national security and cause alarm. They vehemently deny the charges and say they are politically motivated.

In September, the judge hearing the case, Judge Elinaza Luvanda, stepped down after Mbowe told the court that he and his three co-accused had lost trust in the judge’s ability to conduct the trial fairly. They cited online claims that Judge Luvanda was an active member of the intelligence service TISS. His replacement, Judge Mustapha Siyani, only lasted a few weeks in the role, before stepping down after President Samia Suluhu Hassan appointed him as Principal Judge of the High Court of Tanzania.

Also in September, tension developed outside the courthouse when court officials denied entry to the court to Mbowe’s supporters. The situation was resolved – though not to the satisfaction of all involved – when the court allowed some supporters to enter after being searched and having surrendered their mobile phones.

Amid much legal wrangling, some details of the case against the accused have been provided. The prosecution has alleged that, between May 1 and August 1, 2020 at the Aishi Hotel in Moshi Municipality, Kilimanajaro Region, and also at different places in Dar es Salaam, Morogoro and Arusha regions, the accused persons conspired to blow up fuel stations, to blow up public gatherings and disrupt political stability, constitutional order and the national economy, and to bring the good name of the United Republic of Tanzania into disrepute.

The Kinondoni Regional Police Commander and Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Ramadhani Kingai, read out a statement signed by one of the co-accused, Adamu Hassan Kasekwa, in which Kasekwa admitted to his involvement in all the offences and listed his co-accused. In court, however, Kasekwa asserted that his confession had been obtained through torture.

ACP Kingai also stated that police search had found various items including uniforms for Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF), a notebook containing maps and names of petrol stations that the accused had planned to blow up as well as market details including the market of Kilombero.

In December, the leader of the ACT Wazalendo opposition party, Zitto Kabwe, asked President Hassan to intervene to secure the release of Mr Mbowe.

Tundu Lissu, deputy chair of Chadema, took issue with Kabwe’s approach, however. He insisted that opposition parties should not be engaging with any meeting organised by either the Registrar of Political Parties or the police until the government establishes a conducive environment for dialogue and Mr Mbowe is released. “We cannot agree to go to dialogue with the government when they have not fulfilled the basic minimum of what we have been requesting for Zanzibar or Tanzania Mainland,” he said.

A meeting to discuss the state of democracy was held in early December, organised by the Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD) and attended by leaders including Chadema’s secretary general, John Mnyika, Philip Mangula of CCM, James Mbatia of NCCR, and Ibrahim Lipumba of CUF.

Mr Kabwe, who also serves as the chair of TCD, said that the meeting called on Mr Mangula to take up Mbowe’s issue to the President and request that it be dropped because it was not in the public interest.

Mbowe has been in police custody and later remand prison since July 2021.


by Ben Taylor

Six months into the presidency of President Samia Suluhu Hassan, it remains unclear what her leadership will bring. In some areas she has shown a clear change of direction compared to her predecessor, while in others the difference brought about by the change of leader has been barely discernible.

There are three areas where the change is considerable. The first of these is her handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, where she has abandoned some of the more idiosyncratic approaches employed by President Magufuli [see separate article].

Second is her diplomatic outlook. Her predecessor rarely travelled outside the country and delivered a pugnacious style of foreign policy, based on the starting assumption that everyone else’s intentions towards Tanzania are malign. In contrast, President Hassan has employed a more open style and a gentler touch. And she has travelled more: already visiting Uganda (twice), Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, meaning she has made as many foreign trips in her first six months as President Magufuli took in his entire time in office.

She has taken steps to patch up relations with Kenya, particularly over trade in agricultural produce. A Presidential visit to Kenya delivered a bilateral deal to abolish the restrictions that Nairobi had imposed on Tanzanian maize, which in turn led to a reported six-fold increase in maize exports to Kenya.

Under her leadership, the Tanzanian government has also ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. This is expected to attract more investors and provide access to a large market for the country’s produce and workers. If implemented successfully, the newly formed free trade area will unlock a regional market of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $3.4 trillion for international investors. The AfCFTA agreement, signed in March 2018, hopes to double intra-African trade. The official start of trading was delayed in 2020 by the Coronavirus pandemic, but it began officially on January 1st 2021. Tanzania now joins 41 other countries as part of the agreement.

The third area of difference is her attitude towards economics, and business in particular. President Magufuli’s “bulldozer” style encompassed his approach to economic matters, including a no-nonsense stance on taxation and an aggressive posture towards the business interests of those he perceived as working against him. Foreign investors complained that the business environment had become more difficult. The economic effects of these positions are hard to assess with confidence, particularly given how politicised official economic data became under his Presidency – to the point where the IMF and World Bank pointedly stopped trusting official figures. Nevertheless, the effects are widely perceived to have included both a tightening of economic conditions and an increase in tax revenues.

President Hassan, in contrast, has made overtures to investors and business leaders. She has said that henceforth, tax collection would focus on compliance instead of coercion and intimidation. She has also promised that her government will actively listen to business leaders, so it can understand and address their complaints.

At the same time, the new President has attracted criticism for the way her government has turned its tax-raising attention to ordinary citizens – through the mobile money tax [see Economics and Business section in this issue], and through other measures that hit the poor hardest, such as refocussing building taxes on renters rather than landlords.

On domestic political matters, the extent to which President Hassan has diverged from President Magufuli’s heavy-handed style remains highly uncertain. Despite initial signs of a relaxation of restrictions on political activity and freedom of expression, more recently there have been growing concerns among pro-democracy groups that the new President’s approach may have more in common with her predecessor’s than previously thought.

Most obviously, the arrest and detention of opposition leader Freeman Mbowe on terrorism charges [see separate article] provoked such concerns. The extent to which the President was involved in the decision to charge Mbowe is unclear, but it is unlikely that it would have gone ahead without her approval. She has also spoken about the case, telling the BBC that the charges were not politically motivated and arguing that the country remains very democratic. She added that while the case is in court she is not at liberty to discuss it in detail, and advised that the judiciary should be left to do their job.

Similar concerns have been prompted by the suspension of two newspapers. In early September, Raia Mwema, a leading Swahili-language weekly, was suspended for 30 days, for “repeatedly publishing false information and deliberate incitement,” according to Gerson Msigwa, the government’s chief spokesperson. He cited three recent stories, including one about a gunman who killed four people in a rampage through a diplomatic quarter of Dar es Salaam. The article linked the gunman to ruling party Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), according to Msigwa, adding that the article violated the 2016 Media Services Act.

The other suspension, introduced several weeks earlier, arguably hints at perhaps the greatest challenge President Hassan faces. In this case, the CCM-owned Uhuru newspaper was suspended for 14 days, after publishing a front page story under the headline: “I Don’t Have Intentions to Contest for Presidency in 2025 – Samia.”

A power struggle underway?
To suspend her own party’s newspaper, particularly given the subject of the offending article, suggests an internal struggle for control within CCM. President Magufuli had built up a party machinery filled with his supporters. Many of these are uncomfortable with some of the changes President Hassan has brought in. Others are more pragmatic, adjusting their stances to align with the new circumstances. Yet more are looking anxiously (or ambitiously) towards 2025, when the next Presidential elections are due.

The constitution is clear: President Hassan is entitled to run again for President in 2025. President Magufuli would not have been eligible to do so. (Unless he had brought in constitutional change to term limits, which had looked possible but which is now a moot point.) Thus any party figure with presidential aspirations faces the probable reality that those ambitions will have to be delayed by five more years. There are no doubt some prominent and influential figures and their supporters who are frustrated by this, some of whom may have wished to foster an expectation President Hassan should merely serve out President Magufuli’s second term and then step down in 2025.

Internal power struggles within CCM are nothing new. President Magufuli himself became leader of the party without a strong base of support – essentially a compromise candidate – and it took some time (and a strong will) before he was able to stifle the grumblings of internal dissent and shape the party in his own image. The popularity he gained with the public for his no-nonsense approach and vocal patriotism made it hard for opponents within the party to stand up to him, and he came down hard on anyone who expressed critical views.

Nevertheless, President Hassan faces an even more difficult challenge. Having become President on the basis of being Vice President at the time of her predecessor’s untimely death, and having essentially been hand-picked for Vice President by a tiny group of party insiders rather than by the membership at large, she starts with an even weaker power base than President Magufuli had. She is yet to prove herself with the public. And she has to contend with two large sets of party members who are pre-disposed to remain lukewarm towards her: die-hard Magufuli supporters and those with presidential ambitions of their own.

These challenges may also be showing up in President Hassan’s handling of other matters – such as Covid-19, or even the arrest of Mbowe. Would she be inclined to do things differently if she didn’t have internal party management matters to consider? Is she picking her battles carefully, choosing where to apply her limited political capital and where to let things go?

Even beyond politics, Covid, diplomacy and economics, there are other matters of significance where the President is yet to make her direction clear. Will she maintain President Magufuli’s hard-line approach to corruption and waste in government, or might we see the return of these problems that plagued the country in earlier periods? How will she handle the legacy of the mega-projects – the Stiegler’s Gorge dam, the purchase of aircraft for Air Tanzania – that may prove more complicated to manage than to introduce?

No-one is yet in a position to conclude with confidence what President Hassan’s style or focus will be. To date, this could perhaps be summarised as a gentler and more open version of Magufuli-ism. But isn’t a compassionate bulldozer a contradiction in terms?