Democracy on Trial – Tanzania before the 2015 Elections


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Democracy on Trial – Tanzania before the 2015 Elections

Since 1960, Tanzania has managed to hold Presidential and National Assembly elections every five years – and it will do so again in October 2015. For the first time after independence, political power seems set to shift… 

Since 1960, Tanzania has managed to hold Presidential and National Assembly elections every five years – and it will do so again in October 2015. For the first time after independence, political power seems set to shift…

Politically formed by its first President Julius Nyerere and guided by his famous Arusha Declaration, the country followed a socialist one-party-system until 1992. The then-only party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM, Party of the Revolution), has continued to rule until today, but it is increasingly subject to opposition criticism and popular scrutiny. At the same time, the Katiba review process, which was supposed to give birth to a new Constitution in line with popular will, has stalled. The passing of the new Katiba has been postponed until after the upcoming elections, which will be decisive for Tanzania’s political and economic development.

Against this background, Richard Shaba, Program Coordinator of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, discusses some of the challenges ahead.

IFAIR: Mr. Shaba, in Western media, Tanzania is commonly known as a donor darling and an anchor of stability in the EAC region. However, both external and internal instability seem to be increasing. What is the political climate like, one year before the upcoming elections?

Tanzania remains a ‘donor darling’ despite clear signs of internal discontent with the current economic, social and political development. On the economic front, the income-gap between the ‘haves and have-nots’ is increasing at a rapid rate. Fewer people are getting richer while the majority of the people are getting poorer – crowding-out effect! Social services (education, health, housing) are inadequate; and proper social services come at a cost which in real terms is too high for most average Tanzanians. After over 50 years of the current Union and because of the natural generation-change, the country ‘feels ready for change’ – however, ‘change’ has not yet been defined! For the first time in her political life, Tanzania ‘has no clue’ who shall be the next president. This tends to create anxiety and apprehension.

IFAIR: In your position as a KAS Program Coordinator in Tanzania, you are working intensively with Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA, Party for Democracy and Progress), the official opposition in the Tanzanian Parliament (Bunge la Muungano) and possibly the biggest threat to CCM majority rule. How do the upcoming elections affect your work?

Our cooperation with CHADEMA is centered on capacity building for all leadership levels – Members of Parliament, Shadow Cabinet, Councilors, Party Leadership, aspiring candidates. The aim is to strengthen inner-party democracy and the understanding of the basic diktats of democratic rule. It is clear to both CHADEMA and KAS that the capacity building will have to cease around May/June 2015 to give way to political campaigns and the like. KAS is not involved in any form of political campaigns!

IFAIR: Twelve months from now, foreign observers will be flocking to Tanzania to monitor the elections. What are their main challenges?

Foreign observers have the natural disadvantage of arriving ‘at the last minute’. They are normally not party to the build-up to the elections; and thus might miss the salient tell-tale signs. Should this happen, the observers might inadvertently arrive at mixed conclusions. For instance, they shall not be privy to the whole voter registration process and the updating of the voter registers. The voter registration process is key to free and fair elections.

IFAIR: What opportunities and threats does Tanzania face, depending on the outcome of the elections? Could you adumbrate potential scenarios?

The biggest challenge for Tanzania is the ability and willingness of a candidate to admit defeat after an election. Due to being in power for a long time, such an acceptance proves more difficult for the ruling CCM when compared to opposition parties, which are relatively young (most of them formed in the 90s). After any election, there has to be the ‘1st and 2nd winner’ – the key question is: will the 2nd winner accept the outcome; if not, what swill this party or these people do? In case the ruling CCM wins, will the opposition parties accept defeat? Should the opposition parties win, will the ruling CCM accept defeat? This is our quagmire!

IFAIR: One last question regarding Tanzania’s international relations. Where is the country headed with regard to EAC integration?

Tanzania has been and shall always be pro EAC integration. However, due to the past history as a member of the defunct EAC (which collapsed in 1977), Tanzania has developed a cautious approach. This approach is at times misconstrued to mean intentional delay-tactic. Historically, Tanzania plays a central role within the East African region. It has always housed Eastern and Southern Africans who have had to flee their countries for whatever reason, and it supported most of the Eastern and Southern African states in their independence struggles and post-independence conflicts.

IFAIR: Thank you.

Politically formed by its first President Julius Nyerere and guided by his famous Arusha Declaration, the country followed a socialist one-party-system until 1992. The then-only party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM, Party of the Revolution), has continued to rule until today, but it is increasingly subject to opposition criticism and popular scrutiny. At the same time, the Katiba review process, which was supposed to give birth to a new Constitution in line with popular will, has stalled. The passing of the new Katiba has been postponed until after the upcoming elections, which will be decisive for Tanzania’s political and economic development.

Against this background, Richard Shaba, Program Coordinator of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, discusses some of the challenges ahead.

IFAIR: Mr. Shaba, in Western media, Tanzania is commonly known as a donor darling and an anchor of stability in the EAC region. However, both external and internal instability seem to be increasing. What is the political climate like, one year before the upcoming elections?

Tanzania remains a ‘donor darling’ despite clear signs of internal discontent with the current economic, social and political development. On the economic front, the income-gap between the ‘haves and have-nots’ is increasing at a rapid rate. Fewer people are getting richer while the majority of the people are getting poorer – crowding-out effect! Social services (education, health, housing) are inadequate; and proper social services come at a cost which in real terms is too high for most average Tanzanians. After over 50 years of the current Union and because of the natural generation-change, the country ‘feels ready for change’ – however, ‘change’ has not yet been defined! For the first time in her political life, Tanzania ‘has no clue’ who shall be the next president. This tends to create anxiety and apprehension.

IFAIR: In your position as a KAS Program Coordinator in Tanzania, you are working intensively with Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA, Party for Democracy and Progress), the official opposition in the Tanzanian Parliament (Bunge la Muungano) and possibly the biggest threat to CCM majority rule. How do the upcoming elections affect your work?

Our cooperation with CHADEMA is centered on capacity building for all leadership levels – Members of Parliament, Shadow Cabinet, Councilors, Party Leadership, aspiring candidates. The aim is to strengthen inner-party democracy and the understanding of the basic diktats of democratic rule. It is clear to both CHADEMA and KAS that the capacity building will have to cease around May/June 2015 to give way to political campaigns and the like. KAS is not involved in any form of political campaigns!

IFAIR: Twelve months from now, foreign observers will be flocking to Tanzania to monitor the elections. What are their main challenges?

Foreign observers have the natural disadvantage of arriving ‘at the last minute’. They are normally not party to the build-up to the elections; and thus might miss the salient tell-tale signs. Should this happen, the observers might inadvertently arrive at mixed conclusions. For instance, they shall not be privy to the whole voter registration process and the updating of the voter registers. The voter registration process is key to free and fair elections.

IFAIR: What opportunities and threats does Tanzania face, depending on the outcome of the elections? Could you adumbrate potential scenarios?

The biggest challenge for Tanzania is the ability and willingness of a candidate to admit defeat after an election. Due to being in power for a long time, such an acceptance proves more difficult for the ruling CCM when compared to opposition parties, which are relatively young (most of them formed in the 90s). After any election, there has to be the ‘1st and 2nd winner’ – the key question is: will the 2nd winner accept the outcome; if not, what swill this party or these people do? In case the ruling CCM wins, will the opposition parties accept defeat? Should the opposition parties win, will the ruling CCM accept defeat? This is our quagmire!

IFAIR: One last question regarding Tanzania’s international relations. Where is the country headed with regard to EAC integration?

Tanzania has been and shall always be pro EAC integration. However, due to the past history as a member of the defunct EAC (which collapsed in 1977), Tanzania has developed a cautious approach. This approach is at times misconstrued to mean intentional delay-tactic. Historically, Tanzania plays a central role within the East African region. It has always housed Eastern and Southern Africans who have had to flee their countries for whatever reason, and it supported most of the Eastern and Southern African states in their independence struggles and post-independence conflicts.

IFAIR: Thank you.

IFAIR

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