Samia Suluhu Hassan becomes the first female president in Tanzania taking over from President John Magufuli who died on 17 March 2021.
Born in 1960, she hails from Makunduchi, an old town on Unguja island, in Zanzibar. Her father was a teacher and her mother a housewife. After graduating from high school she studied public administration and later obtained a Masters in community economic development.
She began her political career in 2000 when she was elected as a special seat member in the Zanzibar House of Representatives. Special seats are reserved for Tanzanian women leaders under the country’s quota system.
She then served as the minister of gender and children in former Amani Karume’s government. Karume was the president of Zanzibar – an autonomous region of Tanzania – between 2000-2010. Hassan also served as the minister of youth employment, and of tourism in Karume’s cabinet.
Then in 2010, she was elected member of parliament for Makunduchi, sitting in the National Assembly of Tanzania, and was appointed minister of state for union affairs by President Jakaya Kikwete.
She rose to the national limelight when she was elected to serve as vice chairperson of the Constituent Assembly. The assembly was a body of stakeholders brought together in 2014 by President Kikwete to discuss Tanzania’s proposed new constitution. It was led by Chairperson Samuel Sitta, a former Speaker of the National Assembly.
The Constituent Assembly, which was dominated by the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party was tasked to discuss and debate Tanzania’s draft constitution. Kikwete had initiated a constitutional review process in 2010 with the promise to have a new constitution through a popular process.
A new constitution has yet to be passed, with many in the establishment, including Hassan, preferring to maintain the status quo.
The Chama Cha Mapinduzi presidential nomination of 2015 was a tight contest. After the party’s National Executive Committee votes were counted, three candidates were selected; John Magufuli and two other women – Asha-Rose Migiro, a Tanzanian who had served as the United Nations deputy secretary general, and Amina Salum Ali – a Zanzibari who had served as permanent representative of the African Union to the United States.
In the end, John Magufuli was nominated as a compromise candidate. He was viewed as candidate who could walk the middle line in a party that had been divided by competing interests.
Because there were two female finalists during the nomination process, it was deemed appropriate for Magufuli to nominate a woman as a running mate at a time when the country was already making great strides towards gender inclusion. Five years earlier, in 2010, Anna Makinda had broken barriers by becoming the first female speaker of the National Assembly.
Magufuli went ahead and nominated Samia Suluhu Hassan as his running mate. With Magufuli’s victory in the 2015 general elections, Hassan became the first female vice-president.
As vice-president, Hassan served as the principal assistant to the president. Her role should have been largely ceremonial. But when she assumed office, she represented Magufuli at many international meetings and engagements. These included the East African Community and Southern African Development Community summits.
This was because the late president rarely traveled abroad. As a result she has received immense international exposure, a factor that could influence how she governs going forward. An expected impact of this exposure will be to redress the international isolation Tanzania experienced during the Magufuli administration.
A reconciliatory figure
She was the most senior government official who visited him, which is worth mentioning because Lissu had blamed the government for the attempt on his life.
Hassan conveyed Magufuli’s greetings. Her visit was symbolic because it sent a message of goodwill. It was an attempt to bridge the growing antagonism between the government and the opposition. Her candour and grace as she leaned in to speak to Lissu on his hospital bed reminded Tanzanians of the value of humanity and the true spirit of Tanzanian camaraderie.
She has been described as compassionate, rational and calm -– attributes that are a far departure from her previous boss.
Healing and unity
In the six years that Magufuli was president, the country became very polarized and divided.
His handling of the opposition and the COVID-19 pandemic only served to sow more discord among the Tanzanian people. And under Magufuli, Tanzania became increasingly isolated internationally.
Hassan’s international exposure could offer her the kind of worldview that is required to put Tanzania back on the diplomatic map. In her address after being sworn in as president on 19 March 2021, she spoke on the need to bury differences and show solidarity as a nation.
Hassan’s candour and rationality could be vital in moving the country forward. She should move in quickly to change the country’s stance on COVID-19 and reach out to the opposition and other stakeholders so as to build an inclusive national dialogue.
Tanzania's Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan is set to be sworn in today as the sixth president of the country following the death of John Magufuli.
The swearing-in ceremony will take place at 10am Friday at State House in Dar es Salaam, government spokesperson said.
Ms Suluhu will make history by becoming the first female president in Tanzania.
Under the constitution, Suluhu, 61, will serve the remainder of Magufuli's second five-year term, which does not expire until 2025.
The oath ceremony will be followed by a high level meeting of her party’s central committee on Saturday. Analysts say, during the meeting, new vice president will be picked.
A former office clerk and development worker, Suluhu began her political career in 2000 in her native Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous archipelago, before being elected to the national assembly on mainland Tanzania and assigned a senior ministry.
A ruling party stalwart, she rose through the ranks until being picked by Magufuli as his running mate in his first presidential election campaign in 2015.
The Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) comfortably won and Suluhu made history when sworn-in as the country's first-ever female vice president.
The pair were re-elected last October in a disputed poll the opposition and independent observers said was marred by irregularities.
She would sometimes represent Magufuli on trips abroad but many outside Tanzania had not heard of Suluhu until she appeared on national television wearing a black headscarf to announce that Magufuli had died at 61 following a short illness.
In a slow and softly spoken address -- a stark contrast to the thundering rhetoric favoured by her predecessor -- Hassan solemnly declared 14 days of mourning.
Hold your breath
Analysts say Suluhu will face early pressure from powerful Magufuli allies within the party, who dominate intelligence and other critical aspects of government, and would try and steer her decisions and agenda.
"For those who were kind of expecting a breakaway from the Magufuli way of things I would say hold your breath at the moment," said Thabit Jacob, a researcher at the Roskilde University in Denmark and expert on Tanzania.
"I think she will struggle to build her own base... We shouldn't expect major changes."
Her loyalty to Magufuli, nicknamed the "Bulldozer" for his no-nonsense attitude, was called into doubt in 2016.
Her office was forced to issue a statement denying she had resigned as rumours of a rift grew more persistent, and Suluhu hinted at the controversy in a public speech last year.
"When you started working as president, many of us did not understand what you actually wanted. We did not know your direction. But today we all know your ambitions about Tanzania's development," she said in front of Magufuli.
Getting things done
Suluhu was born on January 27, 1960 in Zanzibar, a former slaving hub and trading outpost in the Indian Ocean.
Then still a Muslim sultanate, Zanzibar did not merge formally with mainland Tanzania for another four years.
Her father was a school teacher and mother a housewife. Suluhu graduated from high school but has said publicly that her finishing results were poor, and she took a clerkship in a government office at 17.
By 1988, after undertaking further study, Hassan had risen the ranks to become a development officer in the Zanzibari government.
She was employed as a project manager for the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) and later in the 1990s was made executive director of an umbrella body governing non-governmental organisations in Zanzibar.
In 2000, she was nominated by the CCM to a special seat in Zanzibar’s House of Representatives. She then served as a local government minister -- first for youth employment, women and children and then for tourism and trade investment.
In 2010, she was elected to the National Assembly on mainland Tanzania. Then president Jakaya Kikwete appointed her as the Minister of State for Union Affairs.
She holds university qualifications from Tanzania, Britain and United States. The mother of four has spoken publicly to encourage Tanzanian women and girls to pursue their dreams.
"I may look polite, and do not shout when speaking, but the most important thing is that everyone understands what I say and things get done as I say," Suluhu said in a speech last year.
Suluhu would be the only other current serving female head of state in Africa alongside Ethiopia's President Sahle-Work Zewde, whose role is mainly ceremonial.
Source: Nation Media Additional report by AFP
John Joseph Pombe Magufuli was a man who deftly played the long political game. He was nevertheless a puzzle both to Tanzanians and the world.
When he first entered the presidency in 2015, he gained worldwide acclaim for his no-nonsense approach to fighting corruption and imprudent government spending. But as he settled into office, his true political colours - the authoritarian and “the bulldozer” of human rights - showed up.
He was born in 1959 in Tanzania’s Chato district in the Lake Victoria zone, and was only 2 years old when Tanzania got independence in 1961.
After attaining his basic education he trained as a teacher at Mkwawa College of Education, Iringa in central Tanzania, and became a secondary school science teacher. Magufuli then obtained a degree in education science from the University of Dar-es-Salaam in 1988.
The following year he was employed as an industrial chemist at Nyaza Cooperative remaining there until 1995. He then ran for the Chato parliamentary seat and won.
In 1995 President Benjamin Mkapa, who passed away in 2020, appointed him deputy minister for works, transport and communication. Magufuli drove an ambitious road building project, earning himself the nickname, ‘the bulldozer’. He served in Cabinet in different portfolios until 2015 when he ran for presidency.
The bulldozer moniker
Throughout his 20 years as a cabinet minister he was known to be a hard worker. He also kept a corruption-free record, a rare feat given the portfolios he was responsible for. As minister for works between 2010 and 2015, he built a road network connecting many parts of the country and a new rapid bus system in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital.
During these two decades he wasn’t associated with any major corruption. This is despite the fact that infrastructure projects, which often require huge investments spread over time, are generally associated with corruption. Also, Tanzania was plagued by major corruption scandals between 2005 and 2015.
Magufuli’s clean record, and his reputation for getting things done, became useful during the 2015 general election campaign. He promised to fight corruption, discipline the civil service, and create employment for the youth.
But the 'bulldozer’ moniker went on to haunt him as he increasingly began to be seen as the man who bulldozed human rights.
Magufuli’s rise to power
In June 2015, four months before election day, Magufuli was not seen as the Chama cha Mapinduzi party’s strongest candidate. The front runner had been Edward Lowassa, who had served as prime minister for three years under Mkapa’s successor, Jakaya Kikwete. Lowassa was forced to resign after being caught in a corruption scandal. Magufuli eventually won the nomination, which came as a surprise to some within his party.
Mkapa quietly pushed the party to nominate Magufuli. The former president and other party elders were for the first time advising the ruling party’s central committee on the nomination of the presidential candidate. The “bulldozer” went on to become Tanzania’s fifth president.
And two years into Magufuli’s first term, Mkapa publicly gave his performance a thumbs up.
Two factors appear to have been critical to Magufuli’s nomination by the Chama cha Mapinduzi and his rise to the presidency.
Two, he was not affiliated within any factions within the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi. After Lowassa was forced to resign as prime minister in 2008 after a fraud case, sharp divisions emerged between Chama cha Mapinduzi members who supported him and those who supported then president Jakaya Kikwete. Magufuli remained neutral and that worked in his favour.
Throughout his political career before the presidency, Magufuli appeared to eschew party politics. As a minster under Mkapa’s and Kikwete’s administrations, he focused on work, not party politics. This - plus his clean governance record - made him the go-to-guy when his party needed a presidential candidate with a clean record and who was not aligned with any party faction.
Back in 2015, when he was first elected president, Magufuli earned praise nationally and internationally. “What would Magufuli do” became a catch phrase to compare him with underperforming leaders in the region. However, after less than a year in office his authoritarianism side began to show.
He spent most of his first term cracking down on the opposition and cementing the ruling party’s power position. Over the years he has turned into a full-blown populist, claiming that he has the people’s interests at heart. But his subsequent actions have called these claims into question. This included tightening the noose on the media, as well as aggressive action against opposition figures, a rise in arbitrary arrests and crackdown on civil society.
More recently, his COVID denialism has been well documented.
He became more focused on cementing his power and less concerned with his election promises. By the end of his first term in 2020, there was still much left to be done, including completing construction on a speed railway and hydroelectric dam.
Regardless, and despite a flawed election, he was re-elected in October 2020. The election was marked with violence and a systematic crackdown on the opposition. As he began his second term, there were questions about what kind of legacy he would leave.
When speaking of his legacy, one must start with the Magufuli’s effect on Tanzania’s economy. There are mixed feelings about his economic performance. While some assessed him positively others underscored the negative impact of his administrative style.
More recently, his denial of the COVID-19 pandemic as straight out of his nationalistic and populist playbook. And the state violence that surrounded 2020’s general election will forever be a stain on his legacy.
As a result Magufuli will be remembered for rolling back Tanzania’s democratic gains, making the country an unwelcome investment destination and denying the existence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tanzania's President John Magufuli has died aged 61, the country's vice-president has announced.
He died on Wednesday from heart complications at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, Samia Suluhu Hassan said in an address on state television.
Magufuli had not been seen in public for more than two weeks, and rumours have been circulating about his health.
Opposition politicians said last week that he had contracted Covid-19, but this has not been confirmed.
Magufuli was one of Africa's most prominent coronavirus sceptics, and called for prayers and herbal-infused steam therapy to counter the virus.
"It is with deep regret that I inform you that today... we lost our brave leader, the president of the Republic of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli," Vice-President Hassan said in the announcement.
She said there would be 14 days of national mourning and flags would fly at half mast.
According to Tanzania's constitution, Ms Hassan will be sworn in as the new president and should serve the remainder of Magufuli's five-year team which he began last year.
Magufuli was last seen in public on 27 February, but Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa insisted last week that the president was "healthy and working hard".
He blamed the rumours of the president's ill-health on "hateful" Tanzanians living abroad.
But opposition leader Tundu Lissu told the BBC that his sources had told him Magufuli was being treated in hospital for coronavirus in Kenya.
Magufuli declared Tanzania "Covid-19 free" last June. He mocked the efficacy of masks, expressed doubts about testing, and teased neighbouring countries which imposed health measures to curb the virus.
Tanzania has not published details of its coronavirus cases since May, and the government has refused to purchase vaccines.
On Monday, police said they had arrested four people on suspicion of spreading rumours on social media that the president was ill.
"To spread rumours that he's sick smacks of hate," Mr Majaliwa said at the time.
Tanzania’s health minister said earlier this month that the country has no plans to procure COVID-19 vaccines. Moina Spooner, an editor with The Conversation Africa, asked Catherine Kyobutungi to explain Tanzania’s COVID-19 response and why it’s problematic.
Why has the decision been taken not to vaccinate?
Tanzania has had a unique approach to controlling COVID-19. Only a few months into the pandemic last year, the president of the country, John Magufuli, declared Tanzania COVID-free following three days of national prayers.
He has since refused to impose a lockdown, re-opened schools, allowed large sporting events, continued religious gatherings, stopped testing and stopped public communications campaigns about the virus. The country also stopped reporting cases and deaths.
The argument was that people should stop living in fear and that they should trust in God and rely on traditional African remedies to prevent getting the virus. It may be the only country in the world that has taken this approach. It goes against everything that has been recommended by scientists, other national health agencies and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It’s therefore not surprising that the authorities have said that they do not have plans to vaccinate the population against COVID-19, at least for now.
Will people still be able to access vaccines?
No. And yes.
No, because a vaccine may not be used in the country without it being registered and licensed for use. The normal process is that experts in the country, together with regulatory bodies, review the data about the vaccine and approve its use if they are satisfied about its efficacy and safety.
For the COVID-19 vaccine, this is being done through the WHO Emergency Use Listing procedure. The review is done by an international team of experts with participation of experts from national authorities.
If Tanzania refuses to register the vaccine for use in the country, it will not be accessible to anyone.
The country could, however, register the vaccine but refuse to import it. This would allow the private sector to import some, but it won’t be enough. COVID-19 vaccination programmes of any country are a massive undertaking. If it’s driven by the private sector many may not be able to access or afford the vaccines.
In the meantime those that could get vaccinated are Tanzania’s elites (or those with means) who could fly out of the country and get vaccinated elsewhere.
Other Tanzanians that could access vaccines are border communities who, in the past, have crossed over to neighbouring countries and benefited from vaccination programmes. This may be the case if and when widespread vaccination starts happening in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi.
But that’s a couple of years from now.
There is still a chance that Tanzania could register and import the vaccines in the future. Magufuli has been sending mixed messages. On one hand, the government has said that it doesn’t plan to order vaccines through COVAX – a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines – or any other mechanism. Indeed, the recently released COVAX allocation has zero doses for Tanzania.
On the other hand, he has said that Tanzanians should only trust those vaccines that have been reviewed by Tanzanian experts and found to be safe.
Does Tanzania have a history of vaccination resistance?
Not that I am aware of.
Tanzania, like other countries, has implemented routine vaccination programmes. These mostly target children below the age of five against diseases like tuberculosis, polio, whooping cough, measles, rubella, and diphtheria. In recent years these expanded to include vaccines again bacterial pneumonia, diarrhoea and hepatitis B.
Vaccination coverage (the percentage of people who receive the vaccine out of the target population) in Tanzania is very high: around 80%-90%. This means that there isn’t a history of vaccine resistance.
What’s different in the country compared with neighbours like Kenya and Uganda
Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi have all frantically been trying to get their hands on COVID-19 vaccines for their citizens. They have all participated in the COVAX facility, and have developed vaccine rollout plans, costed them and submitted them. Rwanda has even gone ahead and obtained vaccines outside the COVAX facility.
All four countries have also started communicating to the public about these plans. For instance, they’ve said that the first round of allocations will be prioritised for healthcare workers and high risk members of the population.
The biggest problem African countries face right now is the lack of vaccines on the global market to vaccinate a significant part of the population. Many rich countries will have vaccinated everyone that needs to be vaccinated by the end of this year. But African countries will only have a widely available vaccine late next year or even in 2023.
If the countries which has been aggressively looking for vaccines are so far behind, imagine a country like Tanzania which at this time has not even started.
What’s the risk for the country and the region?
The risk for the country is already evident. The approach taken by Tanzania has allowed the virus to spread unchecked in the population. All of a sudden, people are dying of what is being labelled as “pneumonia” and “breathing difficulties”.
People living in Tanzania aren’t sufficiently prepared or protected: there are no protocols for what lay people should do if someone falls sick to prevent the virus spreading. Most information is about steaming – to prevent COVID-19 – but that does not stop the virus spreading from person to person.
The second biggest problem is the impact on healthcare workers. Even in countries where stringent measures have been put in place, healthcare workers have fallen sick and many have died. Misinformation in Tanzania could mean health workers don’t take enough precautions in outpatient clinics, emergency rooms and even wards when taking care of patients. With healthcare workers falling sick, other health services are bound to be affected.
The biggest danger to the region and the world is two-fold.
First, as long as there are COVID-19 cases in Tanzania, it is impossible for neighbouring countries – with which it shares porous borders – to be COVID-free.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, is the risk of new variants developing in the country when no one is keeping track. New variants emerge because of uncontrolled spread.
If, down the line, a new variant emerges in Tanzania, the danger is that it could spread across the region and invalidate vaccinations that may have taken place if they’re not effective against that variant.
The pandemic will not end for anyone, anywhere until it is controlled in every country. Tanzania’s approach will make it that much harder for normality to return.
Elections are the quintessential arbiter of political contestation within democratic countries. This is a path Tanzania has followed for the past 25 years, since it first held its first multiparty elections in 1995.
But elections are only part of the institutional fabric of a democracy. And a democracy is only as good as its institutions – collectively.
Last week, Tanzania completed its sixth cycle of multiparty elections. The country’s dominant ruling party – Chama cha Mapinduzi – was declared the winner by a landslide. This time around, Magufuli won a highly suspect 84% against 13% for Tundu Lissu, leader of the opposition Chadema party. Lissu had only recently returned from Belgium to contest the polls after surviving an assassination attempt three years ago.
Chama cha Mapinduzi, having won all previous elections, has governed within a multiparty dispensation for 25 years. But this level of electoral blowout is unprecedented.
While the quality of elections should improve with every election cycle, this has not been the case for Tanzania. The country’s recent poll should be viewed in the context of flawed democracies that go through the motions of political contestation without fully embracing freedom, fairness, and transparency.
This electoral cycle demonstrated a fundamental weakness of democratic politics in flawed democracies – the superficial and instrumentalist practice of democracy without the intrinsic belief in the value system that democracy entails.
Democratic transition is admittedly a long and winding road. In Tanzania, progress has been achieved in some areas areas like corruption, poverty alleviation, reining in waste and bloated bureaucracy, but in others there is clear evidence of regression. Since Magufuli came to power, there have been repeated attacks on civil and human rights, contracting of the political space, and diminishing of the opposition’s role as a counter balance to the status quo.
Flaws in the system
A number of developments point to deteriorating democratic health in Tanzania.
Unlike the 2015 elections, this round of elections has been characterised by controversy. Most baffling was the arrest of the opposition’s presidential candidate in Zanzibar a day before the elections. This was not only unethical, but went against the common courtesy that should be extended to a senior political leader. He was then released without charge. Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous Tanzanian archipelago off the coast of East Africa, which elects its own president on Tanzania’s election day.
On top of this, there was growing evidence this time round that those responsible for being umpires in the election had gone rogue. Electoral commissions are considered critical to the effective functioning of the electoral process. How they perform determines the acceptance and legitimacy of the outcome.
This is so because the election commission is not only appointed by the president, but the commissioners’ security of tenure also depends fully on his confidence.
Financially, they are dependent on the executive for budget support and execution of their mandate.
The opposition has viewed the commission as partisan due to the way it managed the 2015 elections but even more so in how it handled the latest one.
One of the accusations levelled against it was that it suppressed opposition candidates by imposing undue requirements for their formal registration and in places disqualifying their candidates on whimsical claims while clearing ruling party candidates with questionable character.
The commission even banned Lissu from campaigning while leaving Magufuli unencumbered.
This raised questions about its neutrality in managing the electoral process.
Equally, while the police should be apolitical, the Tanzania police force was used as the ruling party’s attack dog to intimidate, arrest and harass the opposition. This, ultimately, skewed the election in favour of the ruling party.
A number of challenges persist in achieving substantive progress in democratic transition in the country.
First, as long as there is a weak institutionalisation of democratic norms, the ability to subvert democratic practice will remain. Going forward, civil and political rights and freedoms ought to be a central pillar of Tanzania’s election transitions. For instance, the right to appeal the outcome of the presidential election needs to be enshrined in the constitution.
Second, the politicisation of institutions of the state, especially those charged with legal and exclusive use of force like the military and police, are detrimental to the health of Tanzania’s political system. Institutions need to serve the state and not the political elite.
Third, a legitimate electoral process and outcome is central to political power contestation and periodic change of governments. This means that Tanzania’s National Electoral Commission should be beyond reproach. Its credibility and independence depends on how it’s constituted and appointed. The president should not have full control over the comings and goings at the electoral commission.
Fourth, freedom of association, of assembly and speech are corner stones of any democracy. The ability of citizens to freely assemble and speak about matters of public importance cannot be compromised nor subjected to the interests of the political class. As long as Magufuli and his ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi continue to believe in unfettered government, any democratic progress that Tanzania has made over the past 25 years will be eroded.
The October elections have not moved the country’s democratic needle forward. Rather, they have highlighted the fundamental flaws of a political system and political class bent on retaining power at all costs.
About 29 million Tanzanians head to the polls on Wednesday to elect new leaders with the world watching the big race pitting the opposition's Tundu Lissu against President John Magufuli.
In his address to the nation on Tuesday, President Magufuli urged Tanzanians to turn out in large numbers to exercise their democratic right, despite the arrest of opposition politicians in Zanzibar.
"Our campaigns have been conducted in an environment of peace and tranquillity," said the President. "Our security agencies did a commendable job," he added.
In Zanzibar, the main opposition party said Tuesday three people had been killed by police on the archipelago's island of Pemba, as clashes erupted ahead of Tanzania's elections.
Police fired teargas and live rounds, and brutally beat a young man in the opposition stronghold of Garagara as security forces began voting a day before presidential and parliamentary elections.
The opposition believes the special day of early voting is a ploy to steal the election on an island with a history of contested polls, and vowed they would try and vote on the same day.
Violence erupted on Pemba, an opposition stronghold, as the army distributed ballots which opposition supporters believed were pre-marked.
"Verified reports from Pemba in Zanzibar indicate that three citizens have been shot dead by the police using live ammunition," read a statement from the opposition ACT-Wazalendo (Alliance for Change and Transparency) party.
However, police dismissed the allegations. "We have not received any reports about such deaths and we do not expect anything of that nature," Inspector-General of Police Simon Sirro told reporters.
Speaking in Dar es Salaam, he said police were holding 42 people in Zanzibar over allegations of attacking officers distributing ballot boxes.
African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat pleaded for peace and called for credible and inclusive elections.
"The chairperson calls for all stakeholders, political parties and their supporters to participate in the voting process peacefully and refrain from any acts of violence. He further urges the authorities to ensure a conducive environment to enable citizens to cast their votes in a safe and peaceful manner," Mr Faki's spokesperson said in a statement.
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan will lead a team of observers from the AU, while ex-Burundi President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya will lead 59 monitors from the East African Community.
The EAC will deploy teams in Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Lindi, Mtwara, Dodoma, Mbeya, Kigoma, Singida, Kilimanjaro, Morogoro and Mwanza regions and Zanzibar's twin Islands of Pemba and Unguja.
The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi has been in existence, and in power, since 1977, becoming Africa's second-longest ruling party. Although there are 15 presidential candidates this time, President Magufuli's strongest challenge comes from Lissu, even though he is expected to be re-elected.
But some observers have already found the electoral process skewed in favour of the CCM. "It is difficult to guarantee electoral justice in Tanzania in light of the prevailing legal and constitutional framework and context," the Tanzania Elections Watch,a virtual group of experts on the polls co-chaired by former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and Ugandan legal experts, Frederick Ssempebwa and Ms Alice Mogwe, said.
"Ensuring electoral justice will require significant constitutional and legal reforms for which there has so far been no political will to embark on." Ahead of the polls, the government has been accused of either passing laws that impede fairness or retaining policies that favour CCM.
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has a final say on presidential election results and no court challenge is allowed.
"It is not to say that an election becomes free and fair because of the positive comments of the observers. We do not think this election will be free and fair, not even if the opposition wins, against all odds. What we need are conditions of good governance in the entire election season," Prof Ssempebwa said on Thursday.
The NEC has accredited some 96 local and foreign organisations eligible for observer status, but it excludes major players like the Catholic Church and rights watch groups.
This will be first exercise since multiparty democracy with no support from the UNDP, after Dar refused to admit an assessment mission from the global agency.
"When we shut down political space, when we shut down civil space, we risk delegitimising those who govern us," argued Donald Deya, the CEO of the Pan-African Lawyers Union, warning the restrictions could fuel violence.
All is set now for the kickoff of the Tanga-Hoima Pipeline, with Tanzania looking to March 2021 for the start of the construction of the $3.5 billion project.
This followed Friday's confirmed agreement between French oil company Total and the Ugandan government over differences which forced the project to stall since 2018.
An initial plan for Tanzania and Uganda to have first oil flow in 2020 through the Uganda-Tanzania Crude Oil Pipe Line (UTCOP) was delayed after investors dragged their feet in making final investment decisions.
Total is now seeking to conclude a similar host government agreement with Tanzania, whose territory the pipe will traverse, to complete the tendering process for all engineering, procurement and construction contracts, according to the statement.
The country coordinator for the East African Crude Oil Pipe Line (Eacop) in Tanzania, Mr Salum Mnuna, told The Citizen that Tanzania is going on with similar negotiations that have been concluded between Total and Uganda.
Credit: The Citizen
Before the heroic return of opposition figure, Tundu Lissu, in late July 2020, Tanzania’s political landscape lacked the exuberance and ebullience that comes with an election season.
Lissu’s return reignited the hopes of a despondent opposition that had been subdued by the oppressive and restrictive political environment during President John Magufuli’s five-year term.
Lissu has been active in politics for the last two decades. He was elected to parliament on a Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Party for Democracy and Progress) ticket in 2010.
A firebrand lawyer and politician, he is known to hold the government accountable. He has questioned retrogressive laws, mining legislation, government procurement, government corruption, and the demand for a new constitution among others.
Lissu has been a constant critic of Magufuli. In 2017, he survived an attempted assassination while on official parliamentary duty. He has attributed the attempt on his life to the Magufuli administration. While he was abroad for treatment he was stripped of his Parliamentary seat.
Tanzania goes to the polls in late October with the dominant ruling party, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Party of the Revolution) and Magufuli, as favourites.
Background to the Elections
The general election will be Tanzania’s fifth since the reintroduction of multiparty politics in the early 1990s.
Since then, the country has been ruled by the dominant Chama Cha Mapinduzi party. There have been significant gains by the opposition parties over the years. Nevertheless, Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s mass mobilisation and internal organisation has seen it strengthen its grip on power. The party has also relied on its incumbency, resource advantages and patronage politics to strengthen itself and weaken the opposition.
In the last general election in 2015, a united opposition coalition made significant gains. It garnered close to 40% of the presidential vote share. Chama Cha Mapinduzi nominated little known candidate John Magufuli ahead of other popular candidates.
Ever since his election the world has tried to understand Magufuli. He has been the subject of immense academic discussion ranging from his personal idiosyncrasies, to style of governance, and approach to national development.
I argue that he needs to be understood at both the domestic and international levels.
At the domestic level he has been praised for his war on corruption, rapid infrastructure developments, fiscal discipline, and concern for the downtrodden.
The president makes frequent visits to various parts of the country. He interacts and engages with the public on their issues. Very often he delivers instant remedies. This is something that has earned him the populist tag.
Internationally, Magufuli is read as an isolationist. He has shunned the global community in an approach driven by his nationalistic and anti-Western rhetoric.
Western governments have criticised Magufuli for Tanzania’s deteriorating human rights and shrinking democratic space.
Chances for the opposition
Opposition parties very often form alliances when competing against a powerful ruling party.
In the 2015 elections, a few opposition parties came together under the agenda for a new constitution. They fronted one candidate to challenge the ruling party at the presidential and parliamentary level.
Under the umbrella, Umoja wa Katiba ya Wananchi (Coalition of Defenders of the People’s Constitution), four opposition parties made significant electoral inroads but still couldn’t challenge Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s dominance. They were Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo, the Civic United Front, National Convention for Construction and Reform – Mageuzi, and the National League for Democracy.
This year, the opposition is less organised and relatively weakened by the Magufuli administration. But Lissu’s nomination as the main opposition presidential candidate has given Tanzania’s democracy renewed impetus. This comes after a torrid five years during which political party rallies were banned. Lissu’s survived assassination embodies the opposition resilience.
During his medical recuperation in Europe, he embarked on an international tour speaking about what had happened to him and castigating the Magufuli administration. These media appearances gave him massive global exposure.
Having nominated and declared their presidential candidates, the two leading opposition parties, Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo and Alliance for Change and Transparency will most likely enter a gentleman’s agreement going into the election. The Alliance’s nominee is former foreign minister Bernard Membe.
During their respective party conventions in August 2020, both reiterated the need for a united opposition to challenge Chama Cha Mapinduzi and Magufuli.
Issues for the Elections
Magufuli goes into the election with a good development track record. In July, the World Bank announced that Tanzania’s economy had been upgraded from low to lower—middle income status. This development came five years ahead of earlier projections.
For the Magufuli government, middle-income status means that it can access international credit markets. The president will also bank on his successes in the war on corruption and his efforts to streamline the civil service.
While the economic numbers look good, the opposition has criticised the government’s lack of investment in human resources.
The government’s repressive legislation, and the curtailing of media and individual freedoms has cast the Magufuli administration in the worst possible light. The administration has been accused of human rights abuses including the arbitrary disappearance and jailing of dissidents as well as curtailing civil society space.
The opposition is bound to capitalise on these issues during the campaigns. It has also called for the electoral commission to be reformed, stating that it is not independent but structured in a way that favours the ruling party.
Elections and COVID-19
Tanzania will go into the elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The president, in June declared that the country was COVID-19 free.
The major concern will be reduced external election observation.
Political temperatures will rise as the elections draw closer. And the government will likely crackdown on the opposition. The elections will be a watershed moment for Tanzania as its democracy has been in retreat for the past five years.
A strong opposition performance in the elections, especially at the parliamentary level, will be crucial in building a strong and viable democracy in Tanzania.
Tanzania banned Kenya's national airline from entering the country effective Saturday, in the latest move in a deepening row triggered by Tanzania's controversial handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tanzania said Kenya Airways flights were being banned "on a reciprocal basis" after Kenya decided against including Tanzania in a list of countries whose passengers would be permitted to enter Kenya when commercial flights resumed on 1 August.
"Tanzania has noted... its exclusion in the list of countries whose people will be allowed to travel into Kenya," Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority director general Hamza Johari said in a letter sent to Kenya Airways on Friday.
"The Tanzanian government has decided to nullify its approval for Kenya Airways (KQ) flights between Nairobi and Dar/Kilimanjaro/Zanzibar effective August 1, 2020 until further notice," Johari wrote.
"This letter also rescinds all previous arrangements that permit KQ flights into the United Republic of Tanzania."
Kenya Airways chief executive Allan Kilavuka said Saturday he was "saddened" by the letter and hoped the situation would soon be resolved.
Tanzania has taken a controversially relaxed approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic and began reopening the country two months ago.
President John Magufuli's refusal to impose lockdowns or social distancing measures, and to halt the release of figures on infections since late April, has made him a regional outlier and caused concern among Tanzania's neighbours and the World Health Organization.
Magufuli declared Tanzania free of coronavirus in June, thanking God and the prayers of citizens for the disease's defeat disease.
The diplomatic spat between Kenya and Tanzania erupted soon after the outbreak of the pandemic in East Africa, when Kenya blocked Tanzanian truck drivers from entering the country, fearing they would spread the disease.