Archive for Politics

POLITICS

by Ben Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ZANZIBAR

by Ben Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CONSTITUTION

by Enos Bukuku

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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HEALTH

by Ben Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CHANGES AT THE TOP OF GOVERNMENT AND PARTY

by Ben Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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OPINION POLL SURPRISE, AND REACTION

by Ben Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CASHEWNUTS

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

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

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

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

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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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