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Tanzania - Politics


Julius Kambarage Nyerere09 Dec 196205 Nov 1985CCM
Ali Hassan Mwinyi05 Nov 198523 Nov 1995 CCM
Benjamin William Mkapa23 Nov 199521 Dec 2005 CCM
Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete21 Dec 200505 Nov 2015CCM
John Magufuli05 Nov 2015 2025 ??CCM

Since independence, Tanzania has been ruled by 4 Presidents, namely; the late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere (1961-1985), H.E. Al Haj Ali Hassan Mwinyi (1985 1995); H.E. Benjamin William Mkapa (1995 2005). Prior to John Magufuli, sworn in on 05 November 2015, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania was H.E. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete (2005 to late 2015).

Tanzania's democratic record would, at least ostensibly, be the envy of many countries. Tanzania has never had a military government, or experienced even an attempted coup d'etat. Since the first national elections were held in 1985, nationwide elections have been held on a regular five-year interval as prescribed in the national constitution. These elections have been widely regarded as having been free and fair. Only in semi-autonomous Zanzibar, where the opposition CUF party poses a serious challenge to the ruling CCM, was the experience in 1995 and 2000 far less successful.

Unlike their counterparts in some neighboring states, Tanzanian Presidents have abided by the national constitution in stepping down after the maximum two terms they are allowed to serve. Indeed, Tanzanians almost unanimously say it would be unthinkable for a President to subvert the constitution and attempt to serve longer than two terms.

The 1995 presidential and parliamentary elections in Tanzania were the country's first mUltiparty presidential and general parliamentary elections since 1961. That year, in elections held under British administration in the waning months of colonial rule, the Tanganyika African Union (TANU), led by Julius Nyerere, swept all but one seat in the National Assembly and set the stage for 34 years of one-party rule.

Nyerere viewed his overwhelming victory as proof that the people of his country desired unity and development over multiparty politics for the sake of form alone. In 1963 he appointed a commission of inquiry into the desirability of a one-party state after announcing his own preference for a constitutional change that would make TANU the sole party in the country. Following the repon of the commission in 1965, Tanzania's constitution was amended with TANU being elevated to the position of the supreme decision making authority for the mainland, while the Afro-Shirazi Pany (ASP) was accorded similar status in Zanzibar. Tanzania's constitution was further amended in 1977 following the merger ofTANU and ASP to form CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi or the Party of the Revolution), but the arrangement existing from 1965 onward remained essentially the same: policy decisions for mainland Tanzania and foreign affairs were the responsibility of the national leadership from both the islands and the mainland, while Zanzibar remained under Zanzibari control.

While the one party construct resembled the model of the former Soviet Union and other countries of the former socialist bloc, Tanzania maintained an electoral system that was not a mere copy of other sOCialist states. While Nyerere ran unopposed for reelection as the country's president in 1965, 1970, 1975 and 1980, "semi-competitive" elections were conducted for the National Assembly or Bunge at intervals of every five years through 1990. Only two candidates were permitted to contest these elections, and both were required to be cenifled members of the ruling party. The elections nonetheless provided an opponunity for voters to choose between alternative representatives for their home areas.

The outcomes of these elections turned mainly on local issues and local sources of political cleavage (i.e. clan, ethnic and religious affiliations) and not on issues of national policy. It can be demonstrated that these elections were also meaningful referendums on the ability of incumbents to provide resources for local development and patronage for their home areas. Prominent incumbents, including cabinet ministers, were regularly turned out of office. In sum, the people had the opponunity to change their representatives but not the regime.

A major reason for Nyerere's resistance to economic reform was his expectation that the reintroduction of a market based economy in Tanzania would sooner or later require the breakup of CCM, the demand for opposition parties, and the end of the one-party state. He was correct.

Whereas under Nyerere, party members were required to adhere to a strict leadership code foreswearing participation in private enterprise, under Mwinyi; things changed. Many senior party members including Mwinyi himself acquired substantial property, entered into co-participation agreements with foreign or local investors, etc. By 1990, Nyerere publicly questioned whether CCM remained a party committed to its creed of "socialism and self-reliance," and suggested that the time had come for a multiparty system so that non-socialists could form their own parties.

The end of the Cold War, the reintroduction of multiparty democracy in Eastern Europe and breakup of the former Soviet Union led Nyerere to state: "Having one party is not God's will. One party has its own limitations . . . it tends to go to sleep .... A CCM which has no ideology or understood position will simply become a junk market where all kinds of people who want office gather together. Who wants that kind of CCM?"

Although Tanzania is one of the most politically stable and peaceful countries in Africa, institutionalised democracy and good governance in the country are challenged by corruption and poor delivery of government services. Although it is one of the most politically stable and peaceful countries in Africa, institutionalized democracy and good governance in Tanzania are challenged by corruption and poor delivery of government services. Sustainable democratic processes, greater domestic accountability among democratic institutions and people-centered policy making furthers a healthy civil society in Tanzania.

The Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar adopted the name "United Republic of Tanzania" on April 26, 1964. In order to create a single ruling party in both parts of the union, Nyerere merged TANU (mainland) with the ASP (Zanzibar) to form the CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi-CCM, Revolutionary Party) in 1977. As the sole legal political party for all of Tanzania, CCM had the role of directing the population in all significant political and economic activities. In practice, Party and State were one. On February 5, 1977, the union of the two parties was ratified in a new constitution. The merger was reinforced by principles enunciated in the 1982 union constitution and reaffirmed in the constitution of 1984.

Nyerere instituted social policies that proved successful in forging a strong Tanzanian national identity, which to this day takes priority in the hearts of the great majority of Tanzanians over ethnic, regional or linguistic identities. Observers are nearly unanimous in attributing Tanzania's unbroken record of political stability to Nyerere's social policies. Nyerere's economic policies were ruinous. They were gradually reversed after he left power, but many in the state bureaucracy remain opposed to modern, market economics.

President Nyerere stepped down from office and was succeeded as President by Ali Hassan Mwinyi in 1985. Nyerere retained his position as Chairman of the ruling CCM party for 5 more years. He remained influential in Tanzanian politics until his death in October 1999.

An important irony of Tanzania's return to multiparty politics is that it was substantially orchestrated by the man who built the one-party state, and that it was done to maintain the ruling party as a party committed to socialist development as well as to maintaining the union with Zanzibar. In contrast to the return to multiparty politics in other African countries, pressure for a multiparty system did not come initially from the donor community and/or from an indigenous opposition, but from a "retired" nationalist leader influencing the system from the wings. Tanzania was ranked first among the 44 hybrid regime countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Democracy index 2014 scoring 5.7 on a scale from zero to ten, followed by Uganda 5.2 and Kenya at 5.1. Rwanda and Burundi scored 3.2 and 3.3 respectively as authoritarian regime countries.

The hybrid regime is a governing system in which, although elections take place, it is not an open society as it cuts citizens off from knowledge about the activities of the ruling class due to lack of civil liberties. The April 2015 report was based on 60 indicators grouping countries in five different categories measuring pluralism, civil liberties, and political culture while measuring the state of democracy in 167 countries, of which 166 are sovereign states and 165 are United Nations member states.

In a democracy, one of the fundamental responsibilities of the State is the organization of periodic, free and fair elections. "Free and fair" can be defined in many ways, but at minimum, for an election process to merit the label of free and fair, the rights of voters and of candidates and political parties must be protected.

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Page last modified: 01-11-2020 13:08:45 ZULU