If the elections aren’t free and fair, Tanzania will be a one-party state
Unless the international community acts soon, the ruling CCM will steal the October elections. Zanzibar will descend into crisis.
For generations, Tanzania has been a beacon of peace and stability in a region characterised by civil unrest. It has stood out as a wise kid among more restless neighbours.
In 1979, for instance, the town of Moshi hosted critical Ugandan talks that led to elections in 1980. In 1993 and then 2000, Arusha was the site of peace negotiations that led to momentous accords in Rwanda and Burundi respectively. More recently, former Tanzanian presidents Jakaya Kikwete and Benjamin Mkapa have taken leading roles in mediation efforts around the continent. In fact, there are barely any countries nearby in which Tanzania has not played a vital part in resolving conflicts.
It is all the more alarming therefore that it is now Tanzania itself that is on the brink of crisis.
This potential is at its most severe in the semi-autonomous Zanzibar. In Tanzania’s general elections in October 2015, initial results suggested the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) had won on the island when the electoral commission – under pressure from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) – suddenly annulled the process. The opposition claimed that alleged concerns over irregularities were fabricated and boycotted the re-run of the vote in 2016. The CCM candidate therefore won easily with 91.4% and presided over the island ever since, protected by state security forces.
With elections scheduled for October 2020, Zanzibar could erupt. Zanzibaris are known for resisting oppression and will not stand by if they believe their votes are being stolen again. This could lead to a security crackdown and spiralling unrest. It is therefore deeply worrying that the government is already trying to prevent voters on the island from registering and harassing opposition leaders in an attempt to tilt the playing field.
In November 2019, the ruling CCM deployed a range of tactics to subvert civic elections. Among other things, it blocked 96% of the opposition parties’ candidates from contesting seats, leaving it to win 99.77% of the votes according to the official results.
The government is ready to repeat these tactics and more. Its manipulation of the whole civic election process was the culmination of four years of oppressive policies in which it rode roughshod over political and civil rights. Its success in doing so – combined with opposition leaders’ failure to mount effective protests in response – will have emboldened it to do it all again in October 2020, unless they are stopped.
Since coming to office in 2015, President John Magufuli and the ruling party have embarked on a full-blown assault against any dissenters.
Its attack on the opposition began in 2016 when the president banned political rallies and meetings, arguing that the country’s focus should be on implementing the CCM manifesto. Since then, opposition politicians have faced unprecedented harassment. Two dozen have been jailed or are facing court cases (including myself), while the whole top leadership of the main opposition party Chadema is currently defending itself in court against charges of sedition.
Outspoken politicians have also been met by force. The vocal opposition figure Tundu Lissu is still in exile in Belgium after he was shot in broad daylight as he left parliament in September 2017. Meanwhile, several other politicians and activists have been temporarily abducted in the past few years, such as Mdude Nyagali and my former personal assistant Raphael Ongangi. The police have also raided opposition gatherings and used arrests to break up public meetings.
Since 2015, the government has taken a similar approach to the media and freedom of expression by passing laws such as the Cybercrimes Act, Media Services Act and the Statistics Act. The clear intent of these repressive measures has been to criminalise dissent and make any form of criticism dangerous. At the same time, several journalists and activists have disappeared, faced harassment or been detained on trumped up charges. Erick Kabendera, a journalist for African Arguments and others, was arrested in July 2019 and eventually charged with money laundering, tax evasion and organised crime, offences which mean he cannot be granted bail.
Under these circumstances, the Tanzanian media has come to avoid coverage that goes against the government’s wishes, both through direct state pressure and self-censorship. Among other things, several opposition and civil society figures have become untouchables in the press, further eroding their ability to hold the government to account.
This lack of scrutiny has allowed the government’s actions to go unchallenged, not least in terms of the economy. Under President Magufuli, growth and foreign direct investment have slowed while poverty and debt have deepened. Much of Tanzania’s business community today lives in fear of government extortion through the threat of abduction, arrest on unbailable charges, or other forms of harassment. Meanwhile, the government itself has reportedly withheld up to $1.2 billion in VAT returns from manufacturers and exporters, leading many to suffer cash flow crises.
Time for external support
The last four years under President Magufuli have been hard on Tanzanians, but despite these challenges, they are not giving up. Citizens and civil society organisations are getting prepared to resist further state oppression, while opposition parties are working together to develop a common front. It will not be easy but the people are ready.
Even all this, however, will not be enough. Without the international community, our efforts will be rendered meaningless.
For too long, regional, continental and international partners have sat on their hands as they have watched a tragedy of despotism and abuse unfold. They have done little as Tanzania has moved to the brink of a crisis that could plunge east and central Africa into chaos. It is now time for them to act. With elections now just months away, it is critical that they apply the necessary pressure on the government to ensure the process is free and fair. They must stand up for Tanzanians so they can choose their own future without fear and avoid being forced into a one-party state against their choosing.
The only solution to Zanzibar’s recurring political crisis, which threatens to boil over, is a credible electoral process. The same is true of the mainland. In fact, for the good of not just Tanzania but the wider region and beyond, it is imperative that international partners support the people in ensuring their voices and votes count in October 2020.
That’s what any sane person can expect when it comes to the current Tanzania’s regime.
As a Tanzanian and any resident of any country We choose a leader and not a party. A leader who runs into other people’s countries touting for his countrymen’s to be fallen upon by evils, is & will never be our leader. If Magufuli goes to ACT wazalendo we will go with him like Kenyatta and Ruto in Kenya
Please our almighty God ,you must protect and give our president enough courage and strength so that we can attain competitive economy in the region. Good job our president JPM
Politics is the dirty game. Very dirty game not to forget as well it is the game of hide and seek. All politicians regardless of the political party are from, are just the same! They are human beings with the same heart which is deceit above all! Go behind the scene of all these dramas they are creating, then you will know!
This article was written by a bitter opposition member potraying to be a journalist. There is no balanced view of the government. All he wants is to potray the government in a bad light yet people on the ground voted becoz of the changes magufuli has implemented and the idea that we are a rich country will always make external forces use our journalists for evil intentions. It is a crime in africa to stand up and be dependant on yourself. All i have to say is keep up the good work magufuli and keep being an example of good leadership.
We support u with the sgr, the hydro electric plant that has started and the aeroplanes you have bought for the country to reap rewards….we shall continue supporting you in your fight against corruption against cartels and all bad forces including journalists being used for hidden agendas
It is so funny how no one talks abput the fact tht the journalist kabendera who has been detained was actually caught changing huge sums of money withoute detailing how he got that money. They only talk of how he has been sitting in jail. Its funny how they talk of CCM blocking candidates for elections yet the candidates where blocked by the official election officials who have rules and regulations that candidates had to correctly input the right information but they neva did.THESE RULES AND REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN THERE BEFORE MAGUFULI FROM NYERERES TIME, WHAT THE ELECTION OFFICIALS DID WAS MERELY TO ENFORCE THE LAWS AS THEY HAD BEEN LAXED FOR SUCH A LONG TIME…..that change caught the sleeping opposition ofguard yet they had been warned but neva took heed to the fact that the rules wud be inforced and now they cry foul!
Tanzania is for the Tanzanian, we don’t need any people like zitto kabwe anymore. We will build our nation by ourselves. John Magufuli done a lot But we opposition don’t accept the development now we going to lead on.
It’s laughable how one continues to deny the shrinking freedom in our country. The inflation of the economy. And don’t even talk about him catching the corrupt because the big fish are not in the net. All you hear is CMM propaganda on the tv, radio or any other news outlet – butt-licking the government.
If one can’t accept criticism to the extent of threatening, causing near death experience and disappearances of citizens, is not worth being a leader.
2020 FOR CHANGE. NEW YEAR NEW GOVERNMENT.
“Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, But righteousness delivers from death. The Lord will not allow the righteous soul to famish, But He casts away the desire of the wicked.
Proverbs 10:2-3 NKJV”
I can see how Tanzania evil wishers are busy to make sure that the country is distablised. One thing I would like to remind those who are sitting somewhere cooking this evil plans against the country, The Lord will cast out their desire, and He has arleady casted them out. For those, who have given themselves the role of speaking on behalf of Tanzanians be assured that Tanzanians are aware of what Magufuli has done to the country, the achievements and milestone has gone is far compared to his successors. WE WILL VOTE FOR MAGUFULI EVEN IF he contest through one day party. As a Tanzania I strongly rebuke these kind of rabbish journalists since they do not represent our views.
I decree in the name of Jesus, that everyone who is cooking evil plans against our country be casted out in all his/ plans. Our beutiful Tanzania will remain peaceful,stable and united than before.
Mr have u ever know what important of multiparty system within,acountry. Most is to make ruling party more effective so I wonder when start complaining about presence of hom, while he is active president and accountable one which kind of leadership do you want,do you think it was as in 2005 to 2015 when people they had freedom to talk their non sense. Now we have a good leader who commit himself to help people.so you as member of other political party stay column and observe and also learn from what he does.
Puppet bent to destroy the harmony being enjoyed by Tanzanian.Had. once advised him to cross over to CCM,but because his paymaster can not allow this to happen Zito is at the Cross roads ,cant interprete the signs pointing to the direction he wants to go.Whats the diifference between Germany Economics and Tanzania Economics being pursued by his one time allies in Kafullila and the Dodoms DC Katambi?
True opposition parties are yet to shape. Mostly now are employment opportunists. The research covers since multi-partism inception. Initially there were a very few committed ones but later replaced by majority selfish figures. Vital researches: FIRSTLY dwell on past national industrial hinges trend – mines, tourism, transportation, energy, governance (government) etc sectors. Being under Commonwealth systems, Tanzania’s public sector is being monitored by opposition led committees from the Parliament. The young boy shouting across national boundaries has been leading such committees for so many times. Whenever the boy dissatisfies a deal he shouts aloof but the reverse he shuts his being up leaving national economical backbones in dire deaths as all of us witnessed. Tourism was deadened – changed to shifting of live beasts, killing them for tusks a business owned by a very few individuals; mining changed to mass transportation of pure treasures under sand cover (foreign mass theft), etc. They allowed all such illicit businesses as were paid (employment) though so meager. The payment were for sure very tiny b’se (1) Tanzanian counterparts don’t know volume&value of what is be transported (2) foreign counterparts are international bandits.
SECONDLY – there is lack of general commitment to individual party development in terms internal democracy, rule of law and infrastructures. In general lack of proper institutionalisation. Evidently this finds in individual supremercy, party funds and properties all the time owned by few individuals (CAG reports). Regardless government gives subventions, parties continue being hosted in rented rooms/units indicating how temporary parties are (short minded players)!
There are lot more issues to describe these Tanzanian opposition champions but let me leave for other fellows to add.
Protect yourself and others by staying home -above all, HAPPY EASTER!
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