Tanzania is a country located in the region of Eastern Africa. The ruling Revolutionary Party (CCM) has largely dominated Tanzanian politics since it was formed in 1977. After CCM politician John Magufuli won in a contentious presidential election in 2015, Tanzania has gone in a clearly authoritarian direction. Oppression against the opposition has increased and media and human rights activists have become increasingly difficult to operate in the country.
CCM controls both the mainland and the nation as a whole, while the opposition is stronger on Zanzibar. In recent years, popular support for the opposition has also increased on the mainland. In the 2010 elections to the European Parliament, the Conservative Party for Democracy and Progress (Chadema) advanced through harsh criticism of the government’s involvement in a series of corruption scandals.
- Countryaah: Country facts and history of Tanzania, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
Ahead of the October 2015 presidential and parliamentary elections, Chadema, the United Citizens Front (CUF) and two small parties gathered in an opposition electoral union, the Constitutional Defense Alliance (Ukawa), which would shake the CCM. Ukawa appointed Edward Lowassa, former CCM politician and prime minister, as his presidential candidate. Lowassa had been considered a potential presidential candidate for CCM but lost an internal power struggle and switched to Chadema.
CCM appointed Labor Minister John Magufuli as its presidential candidate. Magufuli had a reputation as a corrupt politician, something CCM hoped would help the party to counter the opposition’s accusations of corruption in the government.
Popular in the beginning
Magufuli won the presidential election with 58 percent of the vote against 40 percent for Lowassa. International election observers approved the election, which was essentially free and fair, and the election process was conducted under mostly peaceful forms. The opposition, however, questioned the election results and felt that electoral fraud had occurred.
In the parliamentary elections held at the same time, the CCM backed from 60 percent of the vote in the 2010 election to 55 percent, but the party still retained a satisfactory majority of seats in the legislative assembly. Chadema rose again, now from 24 percent to 32 percent of the vote, strengthening his position as the country’s largest opposition party.
The election on Zanzibar was annulled by the electoral authority due to a number of irregularities. Young people had invaded several polling stations, cheats with ballot papers had been revealed and election officials had ended up fighting each other. When the election was redone in March 2016, it was boycotted by the opposition. As a result, CCM’s local presidential candidate Ali Mohamed Shein won and CCM gained total dominance over Zanzibar’s parliament.
President Magufuli began the term of office by dismissing thousands of civil servants who were involved in corruption, or whom Magufuli did not think worked hard enough. He subtracted the wages of 20,000 ghost workers (people who have employment and pay without doing anything). Magufuli ended up in conflict with mining companies when he increased state control over the mining industry. A number of his own ministers and heads of government were also seen to be replaced.
Several of the measures made Magufuli popular, but over time it became clear that the president was becoming increasingly authoritarian. Opposition parties’ activities began to be restricted by the authorities. In July 2016, political public meetings were banned until at least 2020. Independent media that published criticism of Magufuli were shut down by the authorities and opposition politicians challenging the president were harassed.
Chadema was particularly hard hit. In February 2018, two of the party’s politicians were murdered. Over 100 voluntary organizations and action groups signed a petition claiming that the abuses of torture and kidnapping that took place under Magufuli’s rule were unparalleled in the country’s history.
The president seemed to be getting more and more relieved. After the Chema leader Freeman Mbowe said at a demonstration in December 2017 that he did not believe that Magufuli would be long-term in his post, Mbowe was indicted in March 2018 for resigning. Between November 2018 and March 2019, Mbowe was in police custody for court-martial, but was subsequently released on bail. He was sentenced in March 2020 to a fine or five months in prison for incarceration, along with eight other Chada politicians, including four MPs.
During Magufuli, Tanzania has become more intolerant of LGBTQ issues. The President has threatened to deregister organizations working to strengthen the rights of LGBT people and arrest anyone who participates in campaigns for this purpose. Foreign citizens working for increased LGBTQ rights should be expelled. Since 2016, the police have made a number of strikes against private meetings organized by LGBTQ organizations. The authorities also conduct physical examinations of people who are believed to be homosexual, and deny LGBTQ persons care.
Magufuli has also made other statements that have been criticized, for example that teenage girls who become pregnant are forced to quit school.
READ TIP – read more about Tanzania in UI’s web magazine Foreign
magazine : Difficult for LGBT people in Africa despite increased tolerance (2019-08-14)
Read about the ongoing development of events in the Calendar.
FACTS – POLITICS
Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania / United Republic of Tanzania / United Republic of Tanzania
Head of State
President John Magufuli (2015–)
Head of government
President John Magufuli (2015–)
Most important parties with mandates in the last election
Revolutionary Party (CCM) 253, Chadema 70, United Citizens Front (CUF) 41, Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT) 1, NCCR-Mageuzi 1 (2015)
Main parties with mandates in the second most recent elections
Revolutionary Party (CCM) 259, Chadema 48, United Citizens Front (CUF) 36 (2010)
67% in the 2015 presidential and parliamentary elections
presidential and parliamentary elections 2020
EAC gets new members
Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya have so far been the only members of the East African Community (EAC) regional cooperation organization. Now it is expanding with Rwanda and Burundi.
New Foreign Minister
Foreign Minister Asha-Rose Migiro is appointed Deputy Secretary-General of the UN. New Tanzanian Foreign Minister becomes Bernard Kamillius Membe.