Category Archives: Tanzania

Tanzania – Where President Magufuli’s political and economic strategy meet

This month, Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli marks two years in office. And what a two years it has been.

On the political front, observers have noted a pronounced authoritarian turn. Opposition party rallies have been all but banned.[1] Politicians, musicians and activists have been repeatedly detained and charged with various offenses. A growing number of newspapers have been shut down. One prominent opposition politician survived an assassination attempt. The list goes on.

Politics aside, Magufuli’s presidency has also left its mark on Tanzania’s economy. What defines the new strategy is only gradually emerging. It nevertheless involves a mix of high-profile anti-corruption measures, increased public spending on big infrastructure, an effort to reign in multinationals perceived to be exploiting Tanzania’s natural resources, and the apparent marginalization of Tanzania’s domestic private sector, to name but a few elements.

While analysts have reviewed Magufuli’s political and the economic interventions elsewhere, the aim of this post is to consider how they intersect. To what extent does Magufuli’s economic approach serve his political ends? What could we then infer about how his political aims may inform his economic management?

In what follows, I will point to ways in which Magufuli’s economic strategy supports the consolidation of the President’s own, quite fragile political base, and this by reducing the threat posed by the opposition camp and—perhaps even more dangerous—the threat coming from within CCM.

A note on ideology

First things first, by focusing on the political implications of Magufuli’s economic strategy, I in no way want to suggest that we can reduce his economic thinking to a purely political calculus.

Unpicking what broader ideology drives Magufuli is a tricky business.

Some liken his economic approach to “father of the nation” Julius Nyerere’s Ujamaa brand of socialism with its emphasis on state-led development and its principled commitment to greater socio-economic equality.

Other observers, less charitable in their assessment, refer to Magufuli’s tenure thus far as a “period of grand confusion, deep uncertainty, and incomprehensible eclecticism.”

Building on that last point, we probably won’t get very far by attempting to define Magufuli’s Ideology, capital ‘I’, as a coherent vision or doctrine. There is nevertheless a bundle of ideas, doubtless with its own internal contradictions, that underpins his economic interventions. A well-rounded study would consider these from at least three different angles, namely as a legitimating framework, a development strategy and, finally, a political strategy.

This post focuses more narrowly on the last element, how Magufuli’s ideas about running the economy interact with his political aims.  And here I will argue that, far from an “incomprehensible eclecticism”, there is a fairly consistent logic at work.

The pre-Magufuli political economy of Tanzania’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi

To understand Magufuli and his “fifth phase” government, we must briefly situate it in relation to what came before.

The same ruling party—TANU, later rechristened CCM—has governed mainland Tanzania since Independence. Since 1985 when Nyerere stood down, there has also been a regular succession of presidents every ten years.

Despite this regularity, though, much has changed in Tanzania’s politics in recent decades.

As noted, President Nyerere first set Tanzania on a socialist path, favouring a state-led development strategy. Of particular significance was the relative marginalisation of the private sector, and especially leaders’ efforts to maintain a strict separation between business and politics. This economic approach had knock-on effects for the consolidation of Tanzania’s ruling party, which grew into one of the most highly institutionalized in the region. By limiting private sources of political finance, it helped Tanzania’s leadership ensure a more centralized distribution of patronage and thereby reinforced party cohesion and discipline.[2]

This political balance began to break down with the economic crises of the late 1970s, the liberalizing economic reforms of the 1980s, and ultimately, Nyerere’s retirement as President (1985) and Chairman of CCM (1990). As the private sector expanded, and as CCM lost access to state resources following the 1992 multiparty transition, the Party of erstwhile socialist renown acquired an altogether different reputation. Leaders at all levels grew increasingly entangled with a variety of business interests, resulting in the emergence of competing patronage networks within CCM.

These developments had profound effects both on the government’s economic management and on the internal politics of the ruling party. As factions grew stronger within CCM, they undermined party cohesion and discipline just as they weakened the government’s ability to develop a consistent economic policy and to check corruption. As Cooksey (2011) neatly summarises, ‘Within the ruling party, the use of rent-seeking of all types to advance the interests of groups of rentiers intent on taking control of the party has heightened pressures to loot the public purse and natural resource.’ Gray (2015) clarifies, ‘Neither the President nor any one particular faction could enforce its particular agenda within the ruling party.’

This was the status quo, at least up until CCM’s selection of a presidential candidate to contest in the 2015 general elections. And then something surprising happened.

Two rival factions, one headed by outgoing President Kikwete and another by his political ally turned rival, Edward Lowassa, knocked each other out of the nomination race. This left the path clear for a relatively low profile presidential aspirant to snatch the prize. That was Magufuli the Unexpected, to use the moniker assigned by one sharp-tongued blogger.

President Kikwete at first appeared satisfied with the result, having at least succeeded in marginalising Lowassa, who promptly defected to the opposition. Magufuli soon made it clear, though, that he would not be playing to anyone else’s tune. Rather, in a series of highly mediatised early moves as President, he launched an anti-corruption campaign and announced a series of new investments in infrastructure, health and education.

As he embarked on this new agenda, though, his political base was far from secure. One, he faced a threat from a newly emboldened opposition. More problematic still, he did not have the backing of a strong network within the ruling party itself. Rather, he had to contend with multiple rival factions, none of which were necessarily pleased with his new development zeal, of which there were both good and bad reasons to be critical.[3]

In what follows, I emphasise how Magufuli appears to have incorporated into his overarching economic approach a strategy to shore up his own political strength, and this by shifting the emphasis away from the private sector and back to a state-centred development focus. This shift helps limit the political finance available to the official opposition as well as oppositional factions within CCM whilst reinforcing Magufuli’s centralized control over resources.

Turning back the clock?

The President’s economic interventions have at times appeared to move in many different directions at once, not always with a clear plan behind them nor with consistent follow through.

But the renewed emphasis on privileging the state as a central actor in the economy is one point on which there does seem to be some consistency.

A recent World Bank report observed that Tanzania’s growth is currently supported by substantial government investment, notably in big infrastructure projects including a standard gauge railway, new roads, expanding the Dar port and an oil pipeline from Uganda.

Yet even as public-sector spending has increased, the private sector is getting squeezed.

According to the Bank report, this is due to a mix of government interventions, including cost-cutting measures that have hit the hospitality industry hard and a crackdown on tax evasion combined with various tax hikes.

Business associations and some prominent investors have called on the government to improve the business climate. They cite policy unpredictability, the ‘brutality’ of the Tanzania Revenue Authority, and low government spending as all negatively impacting business.

Another consequence of the overall downward trend has been a spike in the number of non-performing loans, which has in turn prompted banks to increase interest rates, adding a credit crunch to the already difficult conditions confronting business.

A recent report from the Bank of Tanzania helps clarify the extent of the slowdown. Annual growth in credit to the private sector, often used to assess private sector expansion, has plummeted from 25 percent in November 2015, the month Magufuli took office, to 1 percent in July 2017.

The political significance  

It is tempting to think that some of the private sector downturn, and certainly the credit squeeze, could be an unintended consequence. Yet it also serves a political purpose, one that has been pursued through more targeted efforts as well.

First, the limited private sector expansion means that private sources of political finance are growing scarce. As noted earlier, it is this private finance that—up till now—has contributed to the fragmentation of patronage networks within CCM and hence fuelled intra-party tensions. By extension, it is also this private finance that could pose a threat to Magufuli, who—it should be remembered—did not have a strong factional base when he took over the presidency.

Beyond this general observation, though, individuals linked to the opposition or rival factions in CCM have gone through an especially rough period recently. Particular entrepreneurs—notably aligned with Lowassa, among others—now face a range of charges from tax evasion to embezzlement. Although perhaps well-founded, the timing of these charges leaves room to wonder about a possible ulterior motive. The fate of these businessmen can certainly provide a useful signal to other potential political financiers, who one CCM politician described as “scared”, having “taken a position of wait and see.”[4]

Beyond closing the taps on private finance, Magufuli has also tried to build up a more centralized source of revenue within CCM, an attempt that supports his broader aim of ensuring greater party discipline.

Insisting he wants to ensure the Party’s independence from its erstwhile business backers, he has launched an audit of party funds, including a review of party-owned properties, many of which it is alleged had been ‘privatized’ by various CCM officials and politicians.[5]

The President, as party Chairman, has also sought to directly regulate excessive campaign spending and factional politicking within CCM. In the 2017 internal party elections, for instance, this effort included a strict ban on bribery and on the widespread practice known as ‘kupanga safu’, meaning to ‘line up’ in Swahili or, in this case, to assemble an informal slate of candidates within the Party. While it is unclear how successfully these bans were enforced, numerous internal election results were scrapped due to alleged malpractice.

In addition to this focus on CCM, the opposition’s sources of private finance—beyond Lowassa’s factional ties—have come under attack. Freeman Mbowe, Chairman of the leading opposition party CHADEMA, has been a persistent target. Property belonging to his company, Kilimanjaro Veggie Ltd (KVL), which is based in his Hai constituency, was allegedly damaged by the District Commissioner, whom Mbowe has dragged to court. More recently, Mbowe’s newspaper, Tanzania Daima, was banned, thereby cutting off another source of finance. Responding to these government actions, Mbowe has decried how, since the 2015 elections, “The wealth, land and even businesses of opposition leaders have been seized or nationalised.”

Where to from here?

I have argued that, whatever other ends Magufuli’s economic strategy may serve, it appears to be aimed at cutting off the sources of political finance on which his political opponents, both in CCM and the opposition, depend.

In this sense, the President’s economic interventions do not only evoke the Ujamaa era because of their state-centred development focus and more equitable resource distribution; they also harken back to that earlier period in so far as they prevent the consolidation of rival factions and thereby help to reinforce discipline within the ruling party.

These assertions aside, a few concluding caveats are in order.

I reiterate, by focusing on Magufuli’s use of economic tools to achieve his political ends, I am not suggesting these are the only ones at his disposal. He is also, for instance, pursuing a version of a “autocratic legalism”, i.e. “the use, abuse and non-use of the law in the service of the executive branch”.[6]

What’s more, the outcome of Magufuli’s economic gambit remains highly uncertain.

One, there are signs that Tanzania’s economy is struggling, yet the government is unwilling to consider this, instead making use of the Statistics Act (2015) to arrest and charge an opposition politician for questioning official GDP figures. Presumably Magufuli understands the political threat posed by an economic downturn and would prefer this topic stay off the table.

Two, politicians both within and outside of CCM are questioning the government’s current policy orientation. While for the most part these criticisms have remained subdued, last week’s debate in parliament over the proposed National Development Plan 2018/19 was unusually lively. “This Government doesn’t believe in the private sector,” accused one CCM MP, adding, “If we have returned to Ujamaa, tell us.” Other ruling party MPs went further, challenging inconsistencies in the government’s plans, questioning their viability, and accusing the Ministry of Finance of copy-pasting reports from one year to the next. The prospect of a rebellion from within CCM, while seemingly remote, is not altogether unfathomable. Certainly, there is dissatisfaction simmering under the surface.

Three, even as Magufuli pursues his anti-corruption drive, there are some potentially sensitive issues he seems unwilling to address. More generally, this raises questions about the extent to which he is temporarily weakening the “groups of rentiers” within CCM, leaving them to lie low only to re-emerge at a later date. There is also some suggestion that close allies of Magufuli are benefiting from his protection, implying he is simply building up a new network to bolster his own position.

Ultimately, to achieve his stated aims, whether economic or political, Magufuli needs nothing short of an economic transformation in Tanzania. Plenty of surprising things have happened in the first two years of his tenure. We’ll have to wait and see what he can manage in the time remaining.


[1] MPs can hold rallies in their own constituencies, but other public meetings are not allowed.

[2] See, for instance: Gray, 2015; Gray, forthcoming. This relationship is also explored in my PhD thesis.

[3] The reasons for criticising Magufuli were well-founded in so far as his economic approach appeared to be poorly coordinated, unilaterally imposed and potentially ineffectual in the long-run. These reasons could be seen as bad, by contrast, when they came from vested interests worried about their own poorly justified economic advantages.

[4] Interview with CCM politician, January 2016.

[5] See the speech he delivered when accepting the position of CCM Chairman: “Hotuba ya Mhe. Dkt. John Pombe Magufuli, Rais wa Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania na Mwenyekiti wa Chama cha Mapinduzi Kwenye Mkutano Mkuu wa Taifa wa CCM,” Dodoma, 23 July 2016.

[6] This “instrumental use of the law” was noted by an analyst of Kenyatta’s politics in neighbouring Kenya.

Tanzania – President Magufuli versus the investors

In a single day last week, shares in the Tanzania-focused gold miner Acacia mining plummeted, falling 30 percent.

This collapse came after a special presidential probe committee issued a report alleging that containers of mineral concentrates currently being held at the Dar es Salaam port contain ten times more gold than previously declared by Acacia. The committee report also identifies significant amounts of silver, cooper, sulphur and other “strategic minerals”.

It recommends that the Tanzania government reinforce its ban on mineral concentrate exports—first imposed last March—until the right royalties are paid to the State. It further stipulates that the government should ensure the construction of smelters to process the mineral sands and allow the identification of all minerals present in the concentrates.

Following the report’s release, President Magufuli quickly responded by extending a ban on the export of mineral concentrates. He also sacked his Minister of Energy and Minerals.

The committee’s recommendations, as well as Magufuli’s swift response, are consistent with the President’s stated commitment to a form of resource nationalism, which through increased revenue generation, is meant to help finance ambitious infrastructure projects and industrial expansion.

The report was applauded by domestic observers and politicians of all political stripes. There was strong enthusiasm for disciplining investors who have long been accused of exploiting Tanzania’s resources, either through illicit mineral smuggling or as a result of the unfair contracts and legal framework adopted under World Bank supervision in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Indeed, the latest actions taken by the Magufuli administration are testament to the distance travelled since former President Mkapa (1995-2005) asserted, “I get complaints that we are being too generous in legislating for this foreign direct investment in the mining sector, but we provide very serious security.”

There is still ample room to question, though, whether the Magufuli administration will be able to proceed with its current agenda. For one, Acacia vehemently contests the committee report’s findings regarding the amount of minerals in the containers due for export. Domestically, some politicians, including the CCM stalwart and former Attorney General Andrew Chenge, question whether plans to construct a smelter are financially viable. The opposition Chief Whip and current President of the Tanzania Law Society has also argued that, while the government is right to highlight the iniquitous nature of contracts with companies including Acacia, there needs to be a more fundamental reform of the legal and fiscal regime governing the mining sector before government can pursue the policies currently being proposed. He advised that, “[I]f we don’t abandon [unfair laws and contracts] first”, then international investors “are going to come back and we will pay big time.”

Acacia has already signalled it plans to suspend production at its two mines in Tanzania with many observers projecting a long, drawn-out legal battle in international courts. Tanzania’s Prime Minister, meanwhile, has recently sought to quell mining investors’ fears, promising “no one will be oppressed as your rights will be protected.” While this may not be a particularly reassuring statement in light of the actions already taken by government, it nevertheless suggests the Magufuli administration may be looking to tread more carefully going forward. What is more, the government is still awaiting a report from a second presidential probe committee. Whereas the first committee, the one that has already reported, was made up of geologists and scientists, the second is composed of economists and lawyers. It is tasked with assessing the financial and legal constraints faced by government and is expected to make policy recommendations accordingly.

Magufuli has shown his ambition to renegotiate Tanzania’s relations with foreign investors and, in so doing, to free the country from an exploitative relationship. For that, he is rightly applauded. But as has proved the case with many of the President’s actions to date, his latest efforts to gain the upper hand over mining investors demonstrate more brash self-assertion than strategic nous.

As some of his critics suggest, there is a need for a long game, one that involves difficult negotiations and fundamental legal reforms. Otherwise, the fire driving a resurgent resource nationalism could fizzle fast.




Tanzania – Is parliament waking up?

It is now old news that, since taking office in November 2015, President Magufuli has sought to reign in political dissent in Tanzania, be it from his own ruling party, opposition parties, the legislature, the media or private citizens. While many have denounced this authoritarian turn, there has been little by way of effective pushback.

That is starting to change.

It began with a dramatic show of strength from one of Magufuli’s close lieutenants, the Regional Commissioner for Dar es Salaam, Paul Makonda. Speaking at a televised press conference, Makonda brandished a list of 65 individuals who he claimed were in some way implicated in the drug trade. The list included everyone from prominent businessmen to religious leaders to pop music celebrities to the Chairman of Tanzania’s largest opposition party. All the individuals named were ordered to report for questioning at the Dar es Salaam Central Police Station.

The order, and the highhanded way it was enforced, prompted an immediate outcry from those whose names appeared on the list. The denunciation did not stop there, however. For the first time since Magufuli took office, parliamentarians from both CCM and the opposition parties united, unanimously resolving to summon Makonda to appear before Parliament.

It seems Makonda had crossed a red line. First, he overreached by targeting—en masse—a group of well-connected individuals from both sides of the political spectrum. While the opposition has had to contend with systematic repression, and individual politicians have also come under fire, Makonda’s smear affected a large and diverse group of prominent individuals, which made a coordinated backlash that much easier.

Second, Makonda’s actions fed into growing tensions between parliamentarians and Regional and District Commissioners. While there have always been disputes over the respective powers of MPs versus Commissioners, these have grown more acute under Magufuli. This is because the President has relied on his administrative appointees to implement the government’s local development agenda, which has led to the political marginalization of parliamentarians. Given the opportunity to shift the balance, MPs were quick to pounce.

It is unclear what comes next. On the one hand, Makonda is in a bad way. Amidst a sustained outcry, rumours of forged academic qualifications, and allegations of ill-begot wealth, the Commissioner has lost some of his nerve. After breaking down sobbing during a church service, he is now rumoured to have left on a two-month vacation to South Africa.

But whereas Makonda could fade into the background, the real concern here is Magufuli. Many were—implicitly or not—critical of the President for his role in nurturing a political environment where an official of Makonda’s rank could issue such a seemingly outrageous order. At the same time, Makonda’s intervention stoked divisions within government and CCM, divisions which Magufuli appears at increasing pains to contain. Take, for instance, his recent appointment of the former First Lady, Salma Kikwete, to a parliamentary seat. This unprecedented move has fuelled a wave of speculation as commentators mull whether the no-nonsense President is making concessions to appease potential detractors within his own party.

Whatever the realty of this situation, things continue to move fast on the ground. This coming weekend, an extraordinary meeting of the CCM National Congress is set to approve sweeping reforms to the party constitution. These will see the elimination of more than half of National Executive Committee positions as well as new rules barring CCM and government leaders from holding more than one official post. The response to these reforms, and Magufuli’s ability to manage a situation where party patronage has been vastly reduced, remains to be seen.

Presidential Profile – John Pombe Magufuli: An outsider with an ambitious (and controversial) agenda

Presidential Profile

John Pombe Magufuli

Only one year in office and Tanzania’s new president, John Pombe Magufuli, has thoroughly divided opinions. To some, he is mchapakazi (a workhorse), tingatinga (a bulldozer), an anti-corruption crusader with a vision of how to propel Tanzania to middle-income status. To others, he is a “petty dictator”, an uncompromising taskmaster bent on quashing opposition parties and curbing civil liberties in the interests of “peace” and “development”.

Whichever side you fall on, it is undeniable that Magufuli’s presidency has sent shockwaves through Tanzania’s political system. Whether he will achieve the ambitious change he desires, rooting out entrenched politico-business networks and setting a path towards industrial transformation, is another matter. But whatever the outcome, his disruptive politics are a story in their own right, which begins with his improbable rise to the top.

The candidate from nowhere  

In 1985, when Tanzania’s first President Julius Nyerere retired from office, the long-ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) instituted a two-term limit, ensuring a transfer of power from one president to the next every 10 years. Since then, CCM’s presidential nominations have become increasingly competitive. Ahead of the 2015 general elections, a record 42 presidential aspirants entered the race to become the official nominee.

This competition is largely the result of growing factionalism, which reached a new high in 2015. The main cleavage was between the outgoing President Jakaya Kikwete and his former Prime Minister turned rival, Edward Lowassa.

Kikwete threw his weight behind several candidates, his top preference being his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bernard Membe. Lowassa, meanwhile, mobilized a carefully cultivated network of supporters to rally behind his own bid for the nomination. Among the remaining presidential aspirants, many were rumoured to be “spoilers” fronted by one side or the other to split the vote in their favour.

The uncertainty surrounding the nominations fuelled a wave of intense speculation. But amidst the many lists of supposed top contenders, one name barely got a mention. Magufuli kept a low profile through the nominations process. Although a minister for 20 years, he never held an official position within CCM and steered clear of factional politics. He had a reputation as clean politician who kept his head down and got the job done. As Minister of Works under Kikwete, he attracted some attention due to his road-building zeal. But even so, he continued to be seen primarily as an effective technocrat.

In an ironic twist, the internal party divisions that Magufuli so scrupulously avoided ultimately helped catapult him to the top. President Kikwete manipulated the CCM nomination procedure, using the vetting powers of the party ethics committee to remove Lowassa’s name from the list of eligible aspirants. The CCM National Executive Committee, which contained a majority of Lowassa supporters, then retaliated by voting out Kikwete’s two preferred aspirants from a list of five pre-vetted candidates. The National Congress then voted overwhelmingly for Magufuli. The other two candidates, both women, were presumably seen to pose too great an electoral risk.

An unusual campaign

At the start of presidential campaigns, Magufuli faced several challenges.

The CCM brand had lost some of its lustre during the Kikwete years, in part due to repeated corruption scandals. At the same time, the opposition invested considerably in extending its organizational reach countrywide and, after uniting in a four-party coalition, seemed poised to make record electoral gains.

As a candidate, Magufuli was also weak. He had no support base of his own so relied on a campaign taskforce composed largely of close Kikwete allies. Moreover, he had to square off against Lowassa, who defected and became the candidate for the opposition coalition. Many Lowassa supporters left CCM with him while those who stayed were accused of backing his candidacy.

Magufuli responded by turning his reputation as a low-profile technocrat to his advantage. His stump speech promised an end to corruption and a renewed dedication to hard work. He contrasted his own integrity with Lowassa’s alleged history of backroom deals. In positioning himself as the anti-corruption candidate, he also distanced himself from business-as-usual under Kikwete, upon whose support he nevertheless continued to rely. He promised to serve the wananchi (ordinary citizens) and referred to former President Nyerere’s fiercely egalitarian politics as his guide.

The first 100 days

Magufuli won the 2015 election with 58 percent of the vote, the lowest ever for a CCM presidential candidate.

He immediately set about implementing a populist agenda. He declared his government would slash all wasteful expenditure and followed up by ordering an end to “unnecessary foreign travels” for government officials. He then announced that the $150m saved on air travel costs would be reinvested in road construction. A series of similar gestures then followed.

Weeding out corruption, or “bursting boils” to use Magufuli’s phrase, emerged as an equally important part of the campaign against waste. Weeks into his presidency, Magufuli launched a crackdown on “big businessmen”, directing Tanzania Revenue Authority Commissioner General, Rishad Bade, to target tax avoiders. His Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, later showed up at the TRA offices unexpected and suspended Bade while investigations were still pending into the disappearance of 349 shipping containers from TRA’s records. Again, these early moves were quickly followed by more suspensions, firings and threats from State House.

Magufli indicated his overriding aim was to eliminate corruption and ensure economic transformation through a soon to be revealed development plan. His shock-and-awe approach was also politically strategic, and this for two reasons.

First, it generated a wave of popular support. It also helped pre-empt any potential opposition from within CCM and government. Magufuli’s own political base was narrow at best, yet his actions threatened the entrenched patterns of rent-seeking that had come to define CCM politics. Amongst those allegedly opposed to the new President’s approach was his predecessor and erstwhile mentor, Kikwete. By acting swiftly, though, Magufuli could at least temporarily cow otherwise vocal opponents into silence. He was, arguably, further aided by the temporary confusion Lowassa’s defection caused within CCM. One of the party’s strongest factions was now in disarray and, without its leader, appeared suddenly powerless.

But those who had something to fear as a result of Magufuli anti-corruption crusade were not the only ones worried about the President’s new style.

The opposition and civil liberties

After taking office, Magufuli quickly imposed heavy restrictions on opposition parties.

The first, and most flagrant, breach of trust between President Magufuli and the opposition, particularly the Civic United Front (CUF) party, came after the chairman of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission annulled the 2015 elections for the Zanzibari President and House of Representatives. While this initial decision had nothing to do with Magufuli, his subsequent unwillingness to intervene was heavily criticized by opposition actors. The elections were re-run in March 2016 amidst an opposition boycott, thus leading to an overwhelming victory for the long-time ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). What’s more, starting in September, the CCM government has exacerbated divisions within CUF after the Registrar of Political Parties repeatedly favoured one of two rival factions.

Tensions, meanwhile, have also grown between Magufuli and CHADEMA, Tanzania’s largest opposition party and the dominant player on the mainland. Through the Deputy Speaker, a lawyer appointed to Parliament by Magufuli, the President has seemingly tried to stifle opposition in Parliament. He has also effectively banned all opposition meetings outside of parliament, even internal party meetings. Individual politicians meanwhile, have repeatedly been drawn to court with some languishing for months in jail.

Opposition parties are not the only ones affected by the new strong-arm politics. Several Whatsapp users have been charged with insulting the President under the Cyber Crimes Act, a piece of legislation passed under Kikwete. A newly enacted Media Services Bill also promises a fresh set of restrictions on free expression while journalists have also found themselves under pressure.

The economy

Despite some impressive gains in revenue collection and cost cutting efforts, Magufuli’s economic management has raised serious concerns. His efforts to centralize control over wealth creation and to root out corruption and waste have, in many instances, had negative economic ramifications.

Some of these were perhaps unavoidable. Magufuli’s order that all government meetings be held in public offices, and not luxury hotels as was the norm, has hit the hospitality sector hard. But pouring government funds into rented conference space was, to begin with, perhaps not the best form of economic stimulus.

Other negative side-effects are, however, down to poorly conceived policy decisions. For instance, efforts to levy VAT and crack down on smuggling has led to a 800,000-tonne drop in cargo volumes going through Dar es Salaam port.

Whilst Magufuli’s push for rapid industrial expansion will depend on foreign investment, he has done little to boost investor confidence. In March, Magufuli declared he wanted a stop to the practice of ‘hiring generators’, admittedly a costly means of power generation. The Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) responded by denying having signed a contract with an American company, Symbion, responsible for managing a gas-fired power plant in Dar es Salaam. In January of this year, while addressing a crowd at a rally, Magufuli announced that he would cancel the operating license of a foreign mining company that had already invested $26m prospecting for nickel. This came after local officials had advised the President that the best location to develop a water project was within the area covered by the company’s license.

Perhaps most worrying, there is mounting concern of food shortages and possible famine due to drought. Magufuli has, however, refused to declare a famine, alleging that the supposed threat is a media and opposition fabrication.


Where to from here?

With the next elections due in 2020, it is still early days for the Magufuli presidency. And yet his time in office has already caused significant upheaval.

Given the severe restrictions on opposition parties, it is unclear whether they can bounce back and build on their 2015 electoral gains. Recent by-election results suggest they are in a weak position, as is to be expected.

Regarding Magufuli’s economic legacy, it is still too early to tell. Data on Tanzania’s macro-economic performance is mixed. Signs of a significant dip in growth rates may be attributable to the negative effects of drought on agricultural production while other sectors, like construction, are expanding, possibly thanks to the President’s commitment to infrastructural development. The success of Magufuli’s ambitious industrialization agenda will, nevertheless, require more than a fiscal stimulus.

Finally, there is the crucial question of Magufuli’s support within CCM. There are persistent rumours of tensions between Kikwete and Magufuli. At the same time, some argue that Magufuli has curbed his anti-corruption zeal, treading carefully around issues that may implicate leading CCM figures, including his predecessor.

An outsider at the start, Magufuli is still walking a political tightrope. While his desire to re-engineer a corrupt political settlement in Tanzania is laudable, success is far from assured. His methods too—a mix of repression and intimidation—leave much to be desired. As with much else in the world of 2017, these remain interesting times.

Tanzania – The long arm of the law in Magufuli’s Tanzania

Last March, after appointing a fresh cohort of 26 Regional Commissioners, President Magufuli offered some sobering advice to his new appointees: “You have the authority to jail people for up to 48 hours. Lock them up so that they learn how to respect you.” He then added, “Don’t be afraid to make decisions. It’s better you take decisions. Even if they are bad, they can be adjusted later.”

Six months on, the President’s instructions have not gone unheeded. Reports of apparent abuses perpetrated by both Regional and District Commissions keep multiplying. While not necessarily breaking the law, Commissions are making the most of the 48-hour rule, which Magufuli referenced. Enshrined in clause 15(2) of the 1997 Regional Administration Act, it stipulates that a Commissioner can order that any individual be put in custody without a charge for as long as two days if deemed likely to “disturb the public tranquillity.”

Commissioners are using these powers to “discipline” public servants and politicians, primarily local councillors. In one district, the Commissioner jailed two high ranking district officials for 12 hours, accusing them of failing to find funds to pay city street cleaners, as per the Commissioner’s orders. In another district, the Commissioner ordered the arrest of four local councillors from Tanzania’s leading opposition party, CHADEMA. The district council chairman—among those arrested—spent the night in jail. The Commissioner’s explanation: “Those [councillors] were messing up my visits to see the wananchi [people] and undermining government development efforts.”

These heavy-handed interventions—and the reasons invoked to justify them—raise questions about the precise responsibilities of a Regional or District Commissioner, beyond presumably preserving “public tranquillity.” According to the above-mentioned Regional Administration Act, District Commissioners are the “principal representatives of the government” within their area and, as such, “all the executive functions of Government […] shall be exercised by or through” them. They are responsible for maintaining “law and order,” for overseeing the implementation of government policies and, crucially, for “assisting” local government authorities, including by “ensuring compliance by all persons and authorities with appropriate Government decisions […].”

Whatever the circumstances, Commissioners clearly enjoy wide-ranging authority. Under President Magufuli, however, they are increasingly using the full breadth of their (loosely defined) legal powers. They are emerging as the local exponents of the President’s “Hapa kazi tu” agenda, justifying apparent excesses by invoking the developmental value of their work. Hence their actions against allegedly non-performing public servants and, most especially, their efforts to clip the wings of local councils and their elected members.

Councillors from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party have not been spared, also facing sanctions and arrests. But the bulk of the Commissioners’ interventions target opposition politicians and opposition-controlled councils. The most flagrant case is in Tanzania’s third largest city, Arusha, where the city council is under CHADEMA control. The District Commissioner, later promoted to Regional Commissioner, has been embroiled in an ongoing dispute with councillors for months after first announcing a drastic cut in their allowances and subsequently interfering with decisions made by the council. Tensions have also escalated between the Commissioner, Mrisho Gambo, and the Arusha city MP, Godbless Lema, also from CHADEMA. Lema has repeatedly accused Gambo of taking credit for development projects.

Top opposition leaders predictably condemn the Commissioners’ actions, and the apparent encouragement coming from the President. What is less clear is how leaders within Magufuli’s own party view Commissioners’ actions, and their growing prominence. On the one hand, many of Magufuli’s Commissioners are CCM politicians who lost out in the most recent elections. As such, they are themselves close to—or else part and parcel of—the ruling party. On the other hand, though, the Commissioners’ actions seem to pre-empt or substitute a development campaign led by the party itself, through its various structures. Under Magufuli’s predecessor—Jakaya Kikwete—, the CCM Secretary General undertook an energetic national tour aimed at restoring people’s faith in the party and its poverty-fighting agenda. That focus and vitality is currently absent from CCM, which if anything, appears temporarily paralyzed.

Magufuli, now party chairman, continues to warn fellow CCM leaders of a coming anti-corruption drive whilst promising a “new CCM” at public events. In the meantime, the President appears much more comfortable working with his appointees. As Commissioner Gambo faced increasingly sharp criticism in Arusha, it was Magufuli who called him personally on the phone to express his continued support.

Tanzania – Stalemate between President Magufuli and the opposition coalition deepens

After he first took office last November, President John Magufuli’s relations with Tanzania’s opposition coalition quickly deteriorated. In the past month, they have reached new lows, with many in the Tanzanian commentariat recalling the one-party era by way of comparison.

From bad to worse

The first, and most flagrant, breach of trust between President Magufuli and the opposition, particularly the Civic United Front (CUF) party, came after the chairman of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission annulled the elections for the Zanzibari President and House of Representatives. While this initial decision had nothing to do with Magufuli, his subsequent unwillingness to intervene was heavily criticized by opposition actors. The elections were re-run in March of this year amidst an opposition boycott, thus leading to an overwhelming victory for the long-time ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). The Secretary General of CUF most recently called for Magufuli to be tried in an international court for crimes against humanity, referring to alleged police brutality following the 2015 elections.

Tensions, meanwhile, have also set in between Magufuli and CHADEMA, Tanzania’s largest opposition party and the dominant player on the mainland. Many in the opposition accused CCM of stealing the presidential election, asserting that CHADEMA candidate Edward Lowassa won against CCM’s Magufuli.  The opposition—united in a coalition known by the acronym UKAWA—went on to boycott Magufuli’s swearing in. Magufuli in turn ruffled feathers with a succession of interventions, which many interpreted as aimed at preventing the opposition in parliament—and parliament as an institution—from effectively challenging the executive. These included imposing his preferred candidate—a lawyer who had never served in parliament—as Deputy Speaker, halting highly popular live broadcasts of parliamentary debates, and intervening in the selection of parliamentary committee members. The opposition responded to this last move by refusing to elect chairs for the opposition-headed oversight committees, including the Public Accounts Committee. Opposition MPs also staged a series of noisy protests during House debates, which led to their forcible removal by the parliamentary guards as well as voluntary walkouts.

After the first parliamentary sitting finished in early February, a series of smaller scale confrontations occurred. Temperatures again rose sharply, however, with the beginning of the parliamentary sitting in late May. Opposition MPs quickly resolved to boycott sessions chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Tulia Ackson, whom they accuse of serving as Magafuli’s puppet, quashing parliamentary debate and contravening the House rules of procedure. With the Speaker away for medical treatment, Ackson has chaired the majority of recent debates. Opposition MPs have thus abandoned the House for much of the past month, during which time parliament debated the government’s annual budget. In addition to the MPs’ protest, CHADEMA also announced a countrywide tour to protest Magufuli’s leadership style. The party leaders accused the president of dictatorial tendency, citing the firing of civil servants without following due procedure and the abrupt expulsion of over 7,000 students from one of Tanzania’s public universities. The police responded to this plan by imposing an indefinite ban on political rallies for “security reasons.” On June 22, Magufuli issued a statement of his own, declaring a ban on all political activity (rallies, public meetings, etc.) until 2020, when the next elections are scheduled to take place. He justified this move in the name of “development,” declaring, “We can’t allow people to politicize each and everything, every day. When will the people work and build the nation?”

Magufuli has since reaffirmed his stand, adding that he was elected to fulfill certain electoral promises, and he cannot tolerate any political obstacles to achieving this aim. In addition to targeting opposition activities generally, individuals have also been singled out for “insulting” Magufuli. One Arusha resident was found guilty of insulting the President on his facebook page and sentenced to three years in jail. A second man has since been charged with insulting Magufuli via Whatsapp. Meanwhile, an opposition MP spent a night in jail after he was arrested, seeming because he referred to Magufuli as a “petty dictator.”

Why the democratic backsliding?

President Magufuli’s “style of leadership” certainly differs from his predecessor’s. While in office, Jakaya Kikwete positioned himself as a democrat. Often his commitment seemed largely rhetorical, but even so, parliament became more assertive under his watch while opposition parties were left to conduct their activities in relative freedom. This raises the question, why the abrupt authoritarian reversion under Magufuli?

One possible reason is the unprecedented level of inter-party competition during the last general elections. Following the 1992 reintroduction of multiparty politics, CCM has won presidential and parliamentary elections by very comfortable margins. In 2015, however, the leading opposition presidential candidate managed to win 40% of the vote. While this official result was still a long way from Magufuli’s 58%, it came after a particularly bruising campaign. It was also a distinct improvement over the opposition’s previous peak performance at 27% in 1995 and 2010 and a far cry from the opposition lows in 2000 and 2005 when the leading presidential candidates garnering only 16% and 11% respectively.

While observers have associated rising inter-party competition with increased political tensions in other dominant party states, this factor alone does not explain the current situation in Tanzania. A second reason could be the opposition’s growing predilection for showmanship and stonewalling. Its boycott of much of this year’s budget session in parliament has certainly left some observers unimpressed. Reports that opposition MPs are now refusing to speak to or socialize with CCM MPs also suggest a particularly pernicious partisan polarization. Yet it is hard to blame the opposition when many of their actions are in fact reactions to executive interference.

This brings us to Magufuli. Since taking office, he has pursued an aggressive anti-corruption campaign, firing high ranking bureaucrats suspected of corrupt activities, slashing excess government expenditure and pushing for improved revenue collection. The flip side of this singular focus has been an apparent unwillingness to tolerate political opposition or, indeed, institutional checks-and-balances. Parliament as a whole, not just opposition MPs, has suffered the consequences. Indeed, CCM legislators also echo opposition concerns, accusing the Deputy Speaker in particular of bending House rules and limiting time for debate so as to render it meaningless. Under the circumstances, some argue that their time is better spent watching football in the parliamentary canteen rather than attending sessions.

Finally, we may ask, where is CCM—the ruling party—in all of this? To date, measures taken against the opposition have originated with the executive, coming directly from the President, his ministers, or the security forces. Magufuli, meanwhile, has yet to take over from Jakaya Kikwete as party chairman. His relations with many party stalwarts, moreover, remain ill defined. There was much speculation that CCM insiders were trying to manoeuvre to postpone the transfer. A recent extraordinary Central Committee meeting convened to put an end to this uncertainty, setting a date for the transfer to take place later this month. Magufuli did not attend the meeting, however, something which surprised many.

Development over democracy?

Ultimately, Tanzania’s new President is showing the power of his office by rewriting the rules of the game, seemingly single-handedly. His vision is one of development first, which in this case seems to imply sacrificing democracy. Incidentally, Magufuli and Kagame have repeatedly expressed their admiration for each other. But Tanzania under Magufuli is no Rwanda. Despite some notably early successes, not least his cost cutting efforts, Magufuli has also overseen some costly blunders. For instance, the snap decision to ban all sugar imports while simultaneously attempting to impose a price ceiling on sugar produced domestically had the bizarre effect of undercutting Tanzanian traders, producers and consumers alike. Although a parliamentary committee warned of a looming sugar scarcity, it went unheard.

Magufuli has ambitions to oversee a transformative industrialization process in Tanzania. But rather than there being some trade-off between these developmental aspirations and the country’s democratic growth, the evidence so far suggests the executive would benefit from a more consultative approach that allowed for opposition critique and parliamentary oversight. Yes, this tolerance comes with certain costs, but so does authoritarian intransigence.


Tanzania – President Magufuli’s first months in office

This is a post by Michaela Collord

Hapa kazi tu! Straight to work! Such was the slogan used by Tanzania’s newly elected President, John Pombe Magufuli, on the campaign trail. After nearly five months in office, Magufuli certainly has made an impression.

His anti-corruption campaign and no-nonsense governing style have sent his popularity soaring. At home, he is being compared to Tanzania’s founding father, Julius Nyerere, a figure of almost mythic proportion. Abroad, Magufuli has also won over a following, not least Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame. Long seen as an ascetic hard worker in his own right (albeit one with strong authoritarian tendencies), Kagame is now openly emulating his fellow East African leader’s cost-cutting zeal.

Other observers are more cautious, wondering whether this one-man ‘bulldozer’ can address Tanzania’s entrenched development challenges, many of which are deeply political in nature. Still more are concerned at the worrying signs that political freedoms in Tanzania are being suppressed.

Magufuli’s actions so far send mixed signals, some inspiring and others decidedly less so.

From sweeping streets to ‘bursting boils’

From Day 1, Magufuli has positioned himself as an energetic populist. He quickly made it clear his government would slash all wasteful expenditure. He surprised many by ordering an end to ‘unnecessary foreign travels’ for government officials, declaring that the $150m saved on air travel costs would be reinvested in road construction. He also cancelled Tanzania’s Independence Day celebrations, instead showing up in front of State House wielding a broom and calling on fellow citizens to participate in a collective environmental cleanup. Money saved from the scaled down inaugural ceremony for MPs’ was later diverted to buy hospital beds. Perhaps most surprising of all for many was that new beds did indeed appear and road construction is underway. At the same time, some are feeling the pinch. Restaurants and bars in Dar es Salaam are noticeably quieter of late, with many speculating that cash strapped civil servants are staying home after Magufuli put a stop to their paid meetings, extra fuel allowances and other perks.

Weeding out corruption, or ‘bursting boils’ to use Magufuli’s phrase, has been an equally important part of the overall campaign against government waste. Weeks into his presidency, Magufuli made a surprise visit to Muhimbili National Hospital, firing the Director and dissolving its Board. He also promised a crackdown on ‘big businessmen’, directing Tanzania Revenue Authority Commissioner General, Rishad Bade, to target tax avoiders. His Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, later showed up at the TRA offices unexpected and suspended Bade while investigation are ongoing into the disappearance of 349 shipping containers from TRA’s records. Senior officials at the Tanzania Port Authority, responsible for handling the containers, were also suspended.

Magufuli and his ministers, many of whom are seen as technocrats, have kept up the pressure with a series of high profile firings and reappointments. They have also expanded beyond government. For instance, PM Majaliwa has revoked ownership of large tracts of unused farmland, some of which is owned by highly placed political figures as well as businessmen. He has promised the land will be redistributed to local peasants.

On another front, the government is trying to push through a series of ambitious policy measures. In his inaugural address to parliament, Magufuli promised free primary and secondary education. The government is also pushing local councils to improve infrastructure to ensure enough classrooms for students. Magufuli has sought to further ease pressure on the average Tanzanians’ pocketbook by directing the state-owned energy-generating company to cut connection fees and tariffs, measures which should also incentivize more Tanzanians to connect to the grid.

Despite a succession of what look like encouraging moves, Magufuli’s style, which seems to capitalize on surprise, has left many wondering what the overall plan may be. So far, directives seem to come straight from the President or his ministers. In several instances, this approach has resulted in rapid decisions while consultations only follow after affected parties voice their dismay. Individual ministers and other government officials have been criticized for their seemingly imperious unilateral decisions. Opposition parties as well as the Commission for Human Rights have decried, in particular, the firing of civil servants without the due process to which government employees have a right. More recently, Prime Minister Majaliwa was singled out by doctors, who complain that they are being stigmatized as a result of his call to fire medical workers caught taking bribes.

There are also concerns about the economic implications of some of the government’s measures. On the one hand, revenue collection is up, the shilling is strengthening again after a precipitous slide and there is genuine optimism that corruption and underperformance amongst government officials is in decline. On the other hand, some argue that Magufuli’s policies could make for an uncertain investment climate, or else could lead to excess government spending.

Perhaps more serious than this, there is the very real concern that if Magufuli is to consolidate his bold gestures into a long-term, coherent agenda, he will need to ensure broad support beyond his inner cabinet circle. This involves taming the rent-seeking, factional tendencies within his own party.

Is his party with him?

Analysts argue that widespread corruption and economic stagnation In Tanzania have much to do with the internal politics of the long-time ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). In recent decades, competing factions have increasingly divided the party, hindering its ability both to control corruption and to implement a coherent economic policy agenda. As Brian Cooksey argues, ‘within the ruling party, the use of rent-seeing of all types to advance the interests of groups of rentiers intent on taking control of the party has heightened pressures to loot the public purse and natural resources.’ Hazel Gray meanwhile underscores how, despite CCM’s strong formal institutional and appearance of centralized authority, ‘neither the president nor any one particular faction could enforce its particular agenda within the ruling party.’

There is a possibility that Magufuli is well positioned to impose discipline within the party in a way his predecessors could not. For one, Magufuli’s path to the presidency has left him relatively unencumbered by the kind of political baggage that has hampered his predecessors. He built his reputation as a competent, largely scandal-free minister, who most people discounted out of hand during CCM’s hotly contested presidential nomination struggle. One major reason for this was Magufuli’s lack of a strong mtandao, the Swahili word used to refer to the opaque political networks behind successful candidacies within CCM. And yet he emerged the surprise winner after two rival factions, one headed by then President Jakaya Kikwete and another by his former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, dealt each other a mutual, knockout blow.

A second factor that could play in Magufuli’s favour is the exit, or at least temporary silencing, of the faction within CCM associated with Lowassa. After losing out on his nomination bid, the former PM left the party to become the opposition presidential candidate during last year’s general elections. Politicians who were known to support Lowassa, and yet remained within CCM, are now being made to denounce their former ally while others have been threatened with the prospect of expulsion from the party. Meanwhile, members of the Tanzanian business community who backed Lowassa now find themselves in a very precarious position, with some reports of businessmen taking their operations abroad. Senior officials within CCM have suggested that, far from weakening the party, the fall from grace of one of its strongest factions could actually help restore unity, at least temporarily.

Another important point in his favour is that Magufuli himself has made an accurate diagnosis of the political challenge ahead of him. When delivering his inaugural address before Parliament, he identified two obstacles to achieving his development aims: ‘leaders like us in here and crooked, deceptive businessmen.’ Unlike his predecessors, who have made similar observations, Magufuli is showing signs of actually following words with action, notably through his crackdown on tax avoidance. He is also set to take over as CCM Chairman later this year and, along with the reform minded Secretary General, has hinted at a political cleanup in the 2017 internal party elections.

Finally, Magufuli’s popularity since taking office also makes it more difficult for any political opponents within the party to criticize him openly.

Each of these apparent advantages has its downsides, though. Magufuli’s lack of a strong network coming into office makes him vulnerable as much as it frees him from costly political debts.  Discussions with some insiders have pointed to a potential isolation within the party, something which may not be helped by his tendency to appoint technocrats to key positions, or by his promise of an aggressive crackdown on political financiers and corrupt politicians alike. The purge of Lowassa supporters in the party, which former President Kikwete is leading, also shows signs of creating more divisions rather than restoring unity.

Ultimately, it is unclear how Magufuli—or anyone else—could do away with the entrenched cronyism that has come to characterize CCM. Since the 1980s and 1990s when first economic liberalization saw the party lose control over parastatals and then political liberalization cut its lucrative government funding, CCM has grown to depend on financial support from the private sector, which it then rewards through government tenders, tax breaks, and other kickbacks. This state of affairs is what has helped fuel party fragmentation across rival clientelist networks, as observed by Cooksey and Gray earlier in this piece. While Magufuli appears to have a window of opportunity to reign in rent-seeking within CCM, and deliver substantive development gains in the process, it is unclear how long his agenda can endure without a relapse into the old way of doing politics.

Political dissent under Magufuli

Whatever one may think of Magufuli’s development agenda, political tolerance and a faith in institutional checks and balances do not appear to be among his main qualities.

Regarding the opposition, Magufuli has been loath to intervene in a series of political stand-offs since he became President. Admittedly they were not of his making, but he showed no sign of wanting to contribute to their solution. Most obviously, he has refused to intervene over the political impasse in Zanzibar, which emerged following the decision by the chairman of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission to annul the results from last year’s elections. This move appears to have been motivated by a strong opposition performance in the polls. A rerun election was held in Zanzibar on March 20, but with the main opposition party boycotting the polls, CCM made a clean sweep amidst record low turnout. In the lead-up to this latest vote, rumors spread of police violence against opposition sympathizers, buildings belonging to both CCM and opposition supporters were torched and a critical journalist was kidnapped. Many fear more unrest ahead.

Magufuli also refused to heed opposition calls for him to address the stand-off over the mayorial elections in Dar es Salaam, which the opposition accused CCM of trying to rig.

Regarding Parliament, concern that the government was trying to control the legislative body surfaced shortly after Magufuli took office. He nominated lawyer, who had previously served as Deputy Attorney General, to become MP. She subsequently contested and won the position of Deputy Speaker, despite no prior experience in parliament, bar a brief stint in the Constitutional Assembly. Many interpreted this move as an effort to install a government watchdog in the House. Tensions rose again after the opposition found its strongest members were kept off the most powerful parliamentary committees. It appears the executive had a hand in lobbying the Speaker over the composition of these committees. The opposition has developed a confrontational style in the house; however, the decision by one of the parliamentary chairmen to have the entire opposition side forcibly removed by the parliamentary guards was a further low point for that institution. The opposition standoff was triggered by a government announcement that the public broadcaster would stop live broadcasts of parliamentary debates.

In recent years, the Tanzanian Parliament has become more assertive. It has refocused the political agenda by helping to reveal corruption scandals and by strongly criticizing elements of the government annual budget. However, as one CCM MP noted, ‘I don’t think the President is going to be so submissive to the Parliament again.  Actually, we have very clear evidence he wants to control it. So he won’t be driven by the parliament but he will want to drive it.’

Magufuli has certainly brought a new energy to government in Tanzania, and with it, a genuine sense of optimism, which should not be dismissed. Indeed, his push for more accountability and government investment in social services is already bearing fruit. As we move forward though, tensions within his own party, and its crony politics, could pose a serious challenge to his administration. His negligent handling of opposition, meanwhile, is already feeding into a deepening political stalemate in Zanzibar while his apparent aversion to legislative criticism threatens to impoverish political debate.

Tanzania – An historic election

Tanzania’s elections last Sunday were the most competitive the country as ever seen. Results so far suggest the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party will remain in power, extending its 54-year reign. But even if CCM wins, these elections mark a decisive shift in Tanzania’s politics.

CCM divided

This campaign season has laid bare the entrenched factionalism within CCM. What was once a highly centralized, bureaucratic party is increasingly split by rival networks of competing political elites. These networks link national political figures, influential financiers, and regional and local party leaders, who are in many areas grouped into personalized political machines.

Faction tensions reached a fever pitch during the CCM presidential nomination process last June and July. A leading contender was Edward Lowassa, a former Prime Minister in outgoing President Jakaya Kikwete’s first government before he resigned over a corruption scandal.

This fall from grace set Lowassa at loggerheads with Kikwete, his former political ally. It is widely accepted that Kikwete personally intervened to ensure Lowassa did not get the CCM nomination despite enjoying widespread support. The nomination instead fell to John Magufuli, a long-time minister with no clear factional affiliation.

Lowassa responded to his exclusion by defecting to the opposition, where he was selected as the presidential candidate for the coalition known by its Swahili acronym Ukawa. Lowassa brought with him a wave of other defectors from CCM, including more former ministers and local party cadres, especially from his home area in Arusha region where his personal network is strongest.

This development fundamentally changed the election calculus, giving the opposition a shot at winning the presidency.

The opposition united

Tanzania’s opposition parties were in a relatively strong position even before Lowassa’s entry.

Four parties—Chadema, CUF, NCCR-Mageauzi, and NDL—united in the Ukawa coalition in 2014 and had agreed to field joint parliamentary and district council candidates in the 2015 elections. Chadema, now Tanzania’s leading opposition party, had also built up its local party structures in the years following the 2010 elections, and had managed to implant itself in areas where previously it had only a slight presence.

Lowassa’s arrival at the helm may have cost the opposition some of its support, particularly as parties like Chadema built their reputation as anti-corruption crusaders and were now seen to embrace a politician long maligned as corruption incarnate. CCM took advantage of this situation during the election campaigns, branding the opposition hypocrites.

Even so, the opposition momentum only grew with Lowassa drawing huge crowds at rallies. CCM meanwhile was struggling with its own flagging legitimacy, seemingly relying on the relatively untainted image of its presidential candidate, Magufuli, to carry the day. More skeptical observers tended to question both candidates’ promise of ‘change.’

The election results so far

Vote counting is still ongoing with CCM leading. Besides providing a sign of who will ultimately win, the available results reveal interesting patterns.

In a country where politics do not generally play out along ethnic lines—certainly not when you compared with neighbouring Kenya—it is striking that both Magufuli and Lowassa’s home regions have swung strongly in their favour. In Magufuli’s home area south of Lake Victoria, a number of constituencies that previously voted for opposition parliamentary and presidential candidates—and where Chadema hoped to consolidate its base—reverted to voting CCM. Around Arusha, the swing was still more dramatic in the other direction. A large swath of constituencies that had never previously voted opposition did so for both the parliamentary candidate and presidency, including constituencies that voted CCM by 60-90% in the last elections.

It would be a mistake, though, to interpret these swings as a marker of purely ‘ethnic’ voting. Both Magufuli and Lowassa’s areas are ethnically diverse, making it difficult to rely on one group to win a victory. What’s more, if we take Arusha as an example, the opposition was already making strong inroads there on its own. What Lowassa was able to add was his own political machine, carved out from within CCM over the 20 years he has served as a Member of Parliament. Finally, there is also a rational assessment voters make whereby they judge that having a president from their area—regardless of ethnicity—will ensure development gains for everyone.

Whichever way you choose to interpret this regional vote, it does add to the perception of a more personalized politics where party allegiance is pegged to personal networks.

The importance of personality is also implied through the prominence of split-ticket voting in a number of regions. For instance, several constituencies in the CCM regional stronghold of Morogoro have gone to opposition parliamentary candidates even though these same constituencies supported CCM’s Magufuli for President. Voters in other regions, notably Mbeya, are more consistent, voting Chadema across the board and seeing off at least one minister and regional CCM chairman in the process. In that area, at least, it is clear that Chadema as a party is firmly implanted.

Finally, much has been made of the growing number of CCM big-wigs who have lost in the elections so far. An emblematic case was the defeat of Stephen Wasira, a minister under three different presidents and a top ranking CCM official. Wasira lost to a young woman, Esther Bulaya, who stood out as a CCM MP critical of government in the last parliamentary session before defecting to Chadema (ahead of Lowassa) earlier this year. This result speaks to a growing popular disillusionment with a CCM old guard, its yes-man politics and its apparent inability to address critical issues, such as corruption.

But are these even the real results?

While polling went smoothly on Sunday, vote tallying has raised serious concerns to the point where both sides are now accusing the other of foul play.

On Monday, police raided a number of Chadema vote tallying centres and eight volunteers were later charged with publishing false election results under the newly enacted and much criticized Cyber Crimes Act. This incident prompted a volley of accusations and counter-accusations form Chadema and CCM.

More worrying, however, was the decision made by the Chairman of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission on Wednesday to nullify the Zanzibar elections on the basis of vague allegations of ‘irregularities.’ This came after the opposition presidential candidate for Zanzibar announced he had won and security forces surrounded a hotel where ZEC commissioners and international election observers were staying.

The opposition sees the ZEC announcement—issued just as vote counting was nearing completion—as a panicked response to CCM losing the election in Zanzibar. Lowassa has also responded by calling into question results published by the National Electoral Commission responsible for counting votes for the Union President and National Assembly candidates.

Tanzania has a reputation as a peaceful country where election violence, outside of Zanzibar, is virtually unknown. The rapid degeneration in trust after the Sunday polls—and the nullification of the Zanzibar election—has brought the country into unchartered territory. Political leaders are calling for calm, but so long as accusations continue to fly, the potential for a dangerous escalation cannot be ruled out.

As it stands, the elections in Tanzania have proved historic. Even if they do not herald a transfer of power, they have unveiled the extent of factional divisions within CCM as never before. They also testify to a public desire for ‘change,’ particularly within Tanzania’s growing youth population. However, how that change will be delivered, and who will oversee it, is more uncertain than ever.

Tanzania – The ruling CCM party unites (for now) around a presidential nominee

Africa’s longest reigning ruling party has dodged a bullet. Sunday 12 July, Tanzania’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) nominated its presidential flag bearer after a bruising campaign threatened to split the party. John Magufuli, current Minister of Works, will carry the CCM banner in the October general elections, and very likely become next president of Tanzania. Widely characterized as a ‘hardworking’ individual unburdened by factional allegiances, Magufuli’s nomination led observers both inside and out of CCM to praise the party for finding a unifying candidate. The current celebratory mood should not, however, blind us to the significance of the nomination process itself. The factional rifts, unprecedented expense and accusations of violating party rules that characterized the campaigns point to internal party dynamics that are both weakening CCM and exacerbating Tanzania’s endemic corruption.

In brief – Tanzania’s political economy of corruption

Over the last ten years, Tanzania has weathered an unprecedented number of high profile (and highly costly) scandals linked to the misappropriation of public funds. These corruption cases include a 2006 decision to award a lucrative emergency power supply tender to a shell company, fraudulent payments worth $131m made by the Bank of Tanzania to 22 local companies, and the most recent controversy over funds diverted to top government officials out of an escrow account set up by the state-owned electric supply company.

Analysts link this increase in corruption cases to growing factional competition within the ruling party. This factionalism both fuels grand corruption and makes it more difficult to check.  As Cooksey (2011) argues, ‘within the ruling party, the use of rent-seeking of all types to advance the interests of groups of rentiers intent on taking control of the party has heightened pressures to loot the public purse and natural resource.’ Gray (2015) meanwhile highlights how the balance of power between these party factions undermines CCM’s ability to control rent-seeking activities. Despite the party’s strong formal political institutions and appearance of centralized authority, ‘neither the president nor any one particular faction could enforce its particular agenda within the ruling party.’ These interest groups remain ‘weak vis-à-vis each other,’ unable to police or channel their competitors’ rent-seeking ambitions.

Predictably, CCM inability to manage rampant corruption is hurting the party politically. Each new scandal provides fresh ammunition to an emboldened opposition while frustration is also spreading within the party itself. Efforts to reassert the authority of ‘the party’ over corrupt elements in its midst have, as already implied, largely failed, leading to an internal dissonance that does little to bolster CCM’s credibility in the eyes of the public.

The presidency – the ultimate political prize

CCM’s factional competition—and its consequences—are most pronounced when it comes to winning the party’s presidential nomination. With this year’s presidential nomination, factional tensions reached new heights; their roots, however, lie in a long history of nomination struggles.

Already in 1995, the presidential succession within CCM was marred by controversy.  In order to win the party ticket, candidates had to make it over a number of hurdles in a process that has changed little to date. First, they had to collect endorsements from a set number of party rank-and-file. After submitting their nomination forms to the party head quarters, contestants then had to get the stamp of approval from the party’s ethics committee. In a third step, the Central Committee, composed of roughly 40 top party leaders, had to select five names from the pool of eligible contenders. The National Executive Committee (NEC) was then tasked with selecting three names from the five, which were finally forwarded the National Congress, the supreme decision-making body.

In 1995, two young CCM politicians, Edward Lowassa and Jakaya Kikwete, threw their hats into the ring. When Lowassa’s name was cut by the central committee, he aligned behind Kikwete, who eventually won the largest share of votes in the National Congress. Former president Julius Nyerere, the highly respected ‘father of the nation,’ intervened however, declaring Kikwete too young, and calling on the runner up, Benjamin Mkapa to take the nomination.

Lowassa and Kikwete were not deterred. After serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs under Mkapa, Kikwete returned to try his luck in 2005, again with the backing of fellow MP and long-time Minister Lowassa. The two are reported to have made a tacit agreement that in ten years time, Kikwete would support Lowassa’s presidential bid. They ran an aggressive nomination campaign. With the help of Rostam Aziz, a wealthy Tanzanian ‘oligarch,’ they marshaled funds to help gather a large number of endorsements, far exceeding the party’s minimum requirement. The CCM ethics committee was tasked with compiling dossiers on all contestants, which led to a recommendation that Kikwete be eliminated early due to excessive campaign spending. President Mkapa, however, shelved the dossiers, maintaining that there was ‘no Mr. Clean’ so no need to single out any particular contender. Other prominent CCM leaders meanwhile argued that there would be public unrest if Kikwete were eliminated given his widespread popularity. Kikwete eventually won the nomination, but the disregard for party procedure, the widespread use of money to climb to the top, and the harsh criticism directed by some party members against Kikwete’s fellow contestants meant CCM was left divided.

The party appeared to reunite at the start of Kikwete’s first term, basking in his 80% vote share garnered in the 2005 presidential elections. This honeymoon proved short lived. In 2007, the so-called Richmond scandal surfaced. The subsequent investigations were aggressively pursued by Parliament under the leadership of Speaker Samuel Sitta. They culminated in a committee report which included a recommendation that Lowassa, whom Kikwete had appointed Prime Minister, should relinquish his premiership. When a majority of CCM MPs supported the committee’s position, some motivated out of principle and others out of a desire to distance themselves from corruption, Lowassa had little choice but to resign. He did so defensively, alleging that the Richmond investigations had been nothing more than a witch hunt.

There were no subsequent prosecutions, but the fallout from Richmond led to the emergence of two loose factions, the ‘anti-corruption crusaders’, including a number of MPs with Speaker Sitta as their unofficial leader and the Lowassa camp, which included notably Rostam Aziz and the then CCM Secretary General, Yusuf Makamba. Beyond the seemingly altruistic aims of the Sitta camp, many observers alleged that Sitta had anterior motives. They noted how the then Speaker had also helped campaign for Kikwete in 2005 and had been frustrated in his hopes to accede to the premiership, subsequently resolving to use his parliamentary position to pursue Lowassa. For his part, Kikwete endeavoured to distance himself from both camps, but the fallout with Lowassa was profound as the President had done little to defend his Prime Minister in the heat of the Richmond scandal. Lowassa quickly set to work building up ties with local party structures, notably through the CCM youth wing, seemingly in preparation for a future presidential bid.

The tensions between these two camps led to a series of clashes within the party. In 2009, a NEC meeting failed to oust Sitta as Speaker of Parliament after many argued he was working against party interests. After appearing on the verge of challenging Kikwete for the presidency in 2010, Lowassa as well as Rostam Aziz—who faced fresh corruption allegations—lost their NEC positions in April 2011. Sitta, meanwhile, regained his. The Sitta camp was also credited with removing Yusuf Makamba, a Lowassa sympathizer, as Party Secretary General. Makamba was first replaced by Mukama, alleged to be a tacit Lowassa supporter, and later by the reform-minded Abdulrahman Kinana. Kinana along with the party Ideology and Publicity Secretary, Nape Nnauye, have positioned the party secretariat firmly behind the anti-corruption campaign. In particular, Kinana launched a national tour to revive the party’s ties with its base. He used his regional visits to preach an anti-corruption gospel and to reassure CCM members of the party’s good intentions. He has also warned the national leadership of the dangers for CCM electorally if it does not clean up its image.

Nevertheless, the Lowassa faction’s strength did not wane, despite his struggles with the party leadership. Throughout Kikwete’s second term, Lowassa and his supporters continued to build their network, notably among regional and local party leaders. All signs pointed towards another battle ahead, this time over the 2015 CCM presidential nomination.

The 2015 nomination campaigns

This year’s presidential nomination process has been billed as a struggle of ‘the party’ versus the individual. Could CCM stick to its institutional principles and procedures or would it be overrun by the maneuvering of opportunistic factions?

An unprecedented 42 presidential hopefuls entered the race, circling the country to collect endorsements. Lowassa had by far the most expensive and elaborate campaign. He launched his bid in late May at a rally, which attracted thousands. He went on to collect 850,000 endorsements from party members, far exceeding the 450 required in the party rules. Samuel Sitta also entered the race, although his was not a strong campaign. A greater threat to Lowassa’s ambitions was Bernard Membe, Minister of Foreign Affairs and rumored to be Kikwete’s favorite (also his brother).

While many within the party described the large number of contenders as an indication of CCM’s internal party democracy, others pointed to what appeared to be strategic efforts by some to act as spoilers, crowding the race to make it more difficult for a few heavyweights to dominate. Party members were also disturbed by the at times vicious attacks contestants levied against each other, in the process laying bare the party’s internal divisions. The anti-corruption message remained a common theme for those positioned against Lowassa. The latter, meanwhile, systematically distanced himself from corruption allegations while also seemingly trying to make a virtue out of wealth, claiming he hated poverty and there was nothing wrong with being rich. With this message, he hit back against the Ujamaa (socialist) heritage of the Nyerere era CCM, which many of his detractors argue the party should try to reclaim.

Lowassa was by no means the only candidate running a controversial—and expensive—campaign. Six presidential hopefuls, including Lowassa and Membe, were previously sanctioned by the party for early campaigning. Party leaders also issued repeated warning about money spent getting endorsements breaching electoral rules. One very rough estimate of the amount spent on endorsements alone (whether directly or indirectly) resulted in a disturbingly high figure: $10m.

As the party neared the next phase of the nomination process, the meetings of top party organs, tensions started to rise still further. Rumors quickly spread that the ethics committee had cut Lowassa’s name. The Central Committee then delayed considerably in announcing the five shortlisted names, which fuelled concerns about behind the scenes wrangling. When the Committee finally did announce the list, Lowassa’s name was conspicuously absent although Membe made the cut. Three Committee members took the unprecedented step of denouncing the committee’s decision, claiming it went against party procedure. Lowassa supporters—many of whom had been bussed to Dodoma, seat of the CCM head quarters—began protesting in the streets, which quickly led to the police cordoning off parts of the city.

The tension continued as the National Executive Committee convened. After delegates began singing a Lowassa campaign song, a dazed Kikwete broke with protocol, interjecting, ‘This has never happened before.’ A number of delegates continued to push for Lowassa’s name to be added to the list, an effort overcome only after interventions from elder statesmen, including former presidents Mkapa and Mwinyi. Lowassa supporters reportedly did effectively mobilize, however, in ensuring Membe’s name did not make it through to the next round, thereby exacting collateral damage on the rival faction. One additional event casting a shadow over the whole affair involved the seizure by police of suitcases containing TSh700m (over $300K) allegedly meant to bribe delegates.

Out of this fractious process, three candidates, John Magufuli, Asharose Migoro and Amina Salum Ali made it through to the Naitonal Congress, which handed Magufuli a resounding victory with 87% of the vote.

Unity restored?

As noted above, the reaction to Magufuli’s nomination was celebratory. The message throughout the next day’s press was that CCM had indeed managed to overcome the factions and reassert ‘the party’ and its principles. Magufuli had conducted his campaign ‘quietly’ with little if any media attention. He had collected the required 450 endorsements, no more. He had a long history of serving as a minister under both Mkapa and Kikwete and for the most part avoided entanglement in any major corruption scandal. All of these factors prompted even disillusioned CCM members, nostalgic for a by-gone era of less commercial politics, to praise the party’s decision.

An editorial in the leading Swahili paper Mwananchi (The Citizen) was nevertheless more circumspect, warning, ‘The task ahead for the party is even greater than that which has just ended… This party has not yet healed the wounds and cracks that resulted from the struggle between the candidates and their factions.’ While CCM escaped with a seemingly good candidate, this was in some ways by default as factions cancelled each other out. The nomination process made it very clear just how pervasive this factional politics is, and the extent to which it is enmeshed in CCM’s largely failed efforts to control corruption and the monetized political competition it engenders. However good Magufuli may be as a candidate, the nomination of no one individual can transform the situation.

Tanzania – As corruption spreads under President Kikwete, Parliament quietly gains strength

The past year has been a politically tumultuous one for Tanzania. Controversy over a new draft constitution, uncertainty over coming elections, media censorship, and police violence were only a few of the issues to crowd headlines. Yet as one observer noted recently, ‘nothing galvanized public opinion and aroused such passion’ like the disappearance of $122m out of an escrow account held by the Tanzanian central bank.

The Tegeta escrow scandal, as it is known, came to a head late last year when the Tanzanian parliament—or Bunge—passed a resolution calling on President Kikwete to remove four high ranking officials from his government. This call led to a cabinet reshuffle last month in which Kikwete sacked his Minister for Land while leaving the Minister for Energy and Minerals to resign.

As temperatures cool, commentators are now beginning to put this latest cabinet makeover into context. An analysis published by The Citizen last week notes that Kikwete has made seven cabinet reshuffles during his nine years in office, which together led to the removal of 60 ministers. Prior to the Tegeta saga, the most notorious incident involved Kikwete’s former Prime Minister Lowassa, a man who was also the kingmaker credited with manoeuvring Kikwete into office. Lowassa was forced to resign in 2008 over the Richmond scandal. Crucially, the Citizen reports that all high profile reshuffles under Kikwete were in response to pressure from parliament over corruption.

Various explanations have been fronted to explain the increased frequency of cabinet reshuffles under Kikwete. These point to, among other things, the political engagement of a more youthful, media savvy populace as well as the tenacity of anti-corruption crusaders like Zitto Kabwe, current chairman of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC). But if we take a step back, two important—and related—trends emerge. First, there is the increasing factionalism and competitive patronage within the ruling CCM party. Second, the steady institutionalization of the long-marginalized Bunge.

On CCM factionalism

The Chama Cha Mapinduzi party controlled Tanzanian politics throughout the one-party state period and has remained hegemonic since the first multiparty elections in 1995. As some analysts argue,[1] these elections were the first experience of ‘candidate centred politics’ in which aspirants’ strengths—both financial and strategic—were critical to the final election outcome. The new pressures resulted in greater competition both between and within parties—especially CCM—and the steady commercialization of politics.

While former president Nyerere—affectionately nicknamed Mwalimu or Teacher—still presided over national politics, internal CCM divisions remained contained. In particular, they did not greatly affect presidential nominations. This fragile stability crumbled, though, during the 2005 elections when money and networks pitted various CCM factions, and their preferred nominees, against each other. The fallout from this bruising competition reverberated throughout Kikwete’s first term in office, notably with the Richmond scandal.

Commenting on this new dynamic, a 2014 ODI report describes the ‘current political settlement ’in Tanzania as ‘an unstable alliance of public and private interest groups practicing competitive patronage around the ruling party and president.’ As such, the report argues that CCM ‘is likely to invest major resources in staying in power by buying support through a combination of natural resource plunder, tax exemptions for key supporters and the conduct of non-competitive tenders.’

While a majority still predict that CCM will have little trouble winning the presidential and legislative elections later this year, it is clear that such victories are coming at an ever higher cost. Political and financial improprieties perpetrated during elections now leave sitting governments with a messy trail of corruption scandals to contend with.

On a Bunge ‘with teeth’

There is no immediately obvious reason why CCM factionalism should go hand in hand with an increasingly assertive—and institutionally empowered—parliament. Yet that is the trend.

For much of the post-Independence period, the Tanzanian Bunge was viewed as weak, even by regional standards. While MPs in neighbouring Kenya would occasionally join together in criticizing the executive, the Bunge remained a neglected backwater. For ambitious individuals, it was a career dead-end—or at best a stepping stone—in a state dominated by government and party bureaucracies.

In the 1990s, two things began to change. First, parliament started to attract attention—particularly among businessmen—as a strategic way to access prized politico-economic networks. At the same time, the anticipation of a multiparty transition led a large cross-section of MPs to show more political independence, notably by pushing for constitutional amendments to strengthen legislative powers.[2]

This early parliamentary spring nevertheless did not yield immediate, lasting results. The two parliamentary sessions following the 1995 and 2000 elections remained muted. After 2005, though, CCM and opposition MPs in the 9th Parliament joined hands in pushing for an ambitious institutional reform programme. This included changes to the standing orders, such as enhanced committee oversight powers and new powers to table private members bills. While observers were initially sceptical, this momentum carried over into the 10th parliament, which again reviewed committee structures. The latest wave of reform led to the introduction of the Kabwe-headed Public Accounts Committee, now a hero of the Tegeta scandal saga.

Analysts have linked the earlier period of legislative assertiveness to a temporary decline in CCM party unity ahead of the 1995 transition. A similar story may well apply to the post-2005 House, this time roused not by the prospect of an imminent political transition but rather by the growing number of disgruntled CCM MPs, frustrated by internal party factionalism and further energized by their activist colleagues in the opposition. While the prospects for cross-party coalitions and parliamentary assertiveness do not extend to all issue-areas, there is a shared intolerance where corruption is concerned.

But does a strong parliament make a difference, really?

The combination of competitive patronage in CCM and a more assertive parliament certainly helps explain the sharp increase in cabinet reshuffles under President Kikwete. It is rather less certain whether the Bunge’s policing efforts are having much of an effect on the overall trajectory of Tanzanian politics. Where corruption is concerned, impunity is still the norm. Lowassa has bounced back from his Richmond shame and is now a leading candidate to become CCM presidential nominee for the 2015 elections. Meanwhile, after Pof. Muhongo resigned last month as Minister of Energy and Minerals, Kikwete quickly appointed him an ambassador.

But even with these apparent setbacks—which by no means constitute a full review of parliament’s impact—it seems likely that the Bunge’s actions may yet have a significant ripple effect. At the very least, it has helped draw public attention to issues of corruption. Ahead of elections, there is growing speculation about what this attention might yield in terms of growing opposition support. While many cannot imagine an end to CCM’s over 50 year stay in power—or be sure of what that might mean for Tanzania—recent events are fuelling a growing wave of speculation.

Posted by Michaela Collord

[1] The below is in part informed by a discussion paper delivered by Hon. Ezekiel Maige, Member of Parliament from 2005 to date.

[2] See, for instance: Killian, Bernadeta. “Comparing Performances: The 1990-1995 Single-Party Parliament and the 1995-200 Multi-Party Parliament.” People’s Representatives: Theory and Practice of Parliamentary Democracy in Tanzania. Eds. Mukandala, R.S., S.S. Mushi and C. Rubagumya. Kampala, Uganda: Fountain Publishers Ltd, 2004. 183-200. Print.