Freedom in the World
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Debate over constitutional reform was ongoing in 2012, led by calls for new limits on presidential power from the opposition, which continued to stage protests throughout the year. In September, a television journalist was killed by police at an opposition rally in the southern city of Iringa. Meanwhile, in Zanzibar, a separatist Islamist group clashed with police on several occasions.
Three years after mainland Tanganyika gained independence from Britain in 1961, the Zanzibar archipelago merged with Tanganyika to become the United Republic of Tanzania. The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, under longtime president Julius Nyerere, dominated the country’s political life and promoted a collectivist economic philosophy. Nyerere’s successor, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, was president from 1985 to 1995 and oversaw a political liberalization process.
CCM victories in the 1995 and 2000 presidential and parliamentary elections on the mainland and on Zanzibar were tainted by fraud and irregularities. The CCM captured a majority in the 2005 elections, and Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete, a CCM stalwart, was elected president, although the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) once again alleged fraud. Negotiations to legitimate the 2005 elections remained deadlocked until a July 2010 referendum led to a constitutional change creating two vice-presidential positions to be divided between the CCM and CUF.
In October 2010, Kikwete was reelected to a second five-year term with 61 percent of the vote, defeating five challengers. While the CCM retained its majority in concurrent National Assembly elections, winning 186 seats, the opposition gained its largest representation in Tanzania’s history. The CUF took 24 seats and Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) won 23. While there were some protests alleging vote rigging and poor administration, the 2010 polls represented a considerable improvement over previous elections. In the separate Zanzibar polls, the CCM presidential candidate also won a narrow victory. Unlike past elections, the opposition CUF accepted the results in Zanzibar, due in large part to a July referendum that had provided for the creation of a national unity government after the polls with two vice president posts, one for the CCM and one for the CUF.
In November 2011, the National Assembly passed the Constitution Review Act, which called for the creation of a commission to begin reforming the constitution. Throughout 2012, political debate heightened around the constitutional review process, which officially began in May with the appointment of a commission tasked with collecting citizens’ views on the reforms. Potential contentious issues in the new constitution, slated for a completion in 2014, include CHADEMA-supported proposals that would limit presidential powers and restore the government of Tanganyika, and calls for increased autonomy for Zanzibar.
CHADEMA-led antigovernment protests that had begun in 2011 continued in 2012, despite an ongoing ban on CHADEMA demonstrations. After an April by-election in the Arumeru district, a local CHADEMA party chairperson was killed, and soldiers used tear gas to break up crowds of CHADEMA protesters calling for the quick release of results. In August, one person was killed and many others were injured during clashes between police and CHADEMA supporters the town of Msamvu in Morogoro region.
Tanzania is an electoral democracy. The October 2010 national elections were judged to be the most competitive and legitimate in Tanzania’s history. Executive power rests with the president, who is elected by direct popular vote for a maximum of two five-year terms. Legislative power is held by a unicameral National Assembly, the Bunge, which currently has 357 members serving five-year terms. Of these, 239 are directly elected in single-seat constituencies; 102 are women chosen by the political parties according to their representation in the Bunge; 10 are appointed by the president; 1 is awarded to the Attorney General; and 5 are members of the Zanzibar legislature, whose 50 deputies are elected to five-year terms. Along with the legislature, Zanzibar has its own president and cabinet with largely autonomous jurisdiction over the archipelago’s internal affairs.
Although opposition parties were legalized in 1992, the ruling CCM continues to dominate the country’s political life. The other main parties are the CUF and CHADEMA. The constitution prohibits political coalitions, which has impeded efforts by other parties to seriously contest the CCM’s dominance. Opposition politics have also tended to be highly fractious. To register in Tanzania, political parties must not be formed on religious, ethnic, or regional bases, and cannot oppose the union of Zanzibar and the mainland.
Corruption remains a serious problem, and is pervasive in all aspects of political and commercial life, but especially in the energy and natural resources sectors. In response to an April 2012 report by the auditor general that millions of dollars in public funds from several ministries could not be accounted for, President Jakaya Kikwete in May fired six cabinet ministers, including the energy and minerals minister. Tanzania was ranked 102 out of 176 countries surveyed in Transparency International’s 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index.
Although the constitution provides for freedom of speech, it does not specifically guarantee freedom of the press. Current laws allow authorities broad discretion to restrict media on the basis of national security or public interest, which is frequently interpreted in ways beneficial to the CCM. Print and electronic media are active, though hindered by a difficult registration process and largely limited to major urban areas. The growth of broadcast media has been slowed by a lack of capital investment; however, the number of independent television and private FM radio stations has risen in recent years. Government-owned media outlets are largely biased toward the ruling party. In July, the government imposed an indefinite ban on the weekly investigative newspaper MwanaHalisi, accusing it of sedition. In September, Channel Ten television journalist Daudi Mwangosi was killed during a confrontation with police at a CHADEMA rally in the southern city of Iringa. A government probe absolved the police of wrongdoing; however, separate investigations by the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance and the Media Council of Tanzania linked the killing to police officers, and one officer was later charged with murder.
Press freedom in Zanzibar is even more constrained. The Zanzibari government owns the only daily newspaper, though many islanders receive mainland broadcasts and read the mainland press. The government largely controls radio and television content; mainland television broadcasts are delayed in Zanzibar to allow authorities to censor content. The Zanzibari government often reacts to media criticism by accusing the press of being a “threat to national unity.”
Internet access, while limited to urban areas, is growing. The authorities monitor websites that are critical of the government.
Freedom of religion is generally respected, and relations between the various faiths are largely peaceful. In recent years, however, tensions between Muslims and Christians have increased, especially in Zanzibar. In 2012, there were at least three outbreaks of violence between the police and the separatist Islamist nongovernmental organization (NGO) Uamsho, which recently had grown in prominence. The worst violence came in October, when two people were killed and churches were set alight during several days of rioting after the group’s leader temporarily disappeared. The Zanzibari government appoints a mufti, a professional jurist who interprets Islamic law, to oversee Muslim organizations. Some Muslims have criticized this practice, arguing that it represents excessive government interference.
There are no government restrictions on academic freedom.
The constitution guarantees freedoms of assembly and association. However, these rights are not always respected. Organizers of political events are required to obtain permission from the police, and critical political demonstrations are actively discouraged, as seen with the recent crackdowns on CHADEMA rallies. Many NGOs are active, and some have influenced the public policy process. However, the 2002 NGO Act has been criticized for increasing government control over NGOs and restricting their operation. Essential public service workers are barred from striking, and other workers are restricted by complex notification and mediation requirements. Strikes are infrequent on both the mainland and in Zanzibar. In July, the teachers’ union attempted to strike for better pay, but the action was declared illegal by the High Court because the union had not given the required 48-hour notice.
Tanzania’s judiciary remains under political influence, and suffers from underfunding and corruption. Arrest and pretrial detention rules are often ignored. Prisons suffer from harsh conditions, including overcrowding and safety and health concerns. Narcotics trafficking is a growing problem, especially given the challenge of controlling Tanzania’s borders. Security forces reportedly routinely abused, threatened, and mistreated civilians with limited accountability throughout 2012.
The 2002 Prevention of Terrorism Act has been criticized by NGOs for its inconsistencies and anomalies. Acts of terrorism include attacks on a person’s life, kidnapping, and serious damage to property. The law gives the police and immigration officials sweeping powers to arrest suspected illegal immigrants or anyone thought to have links with terrorists.
Tanzania has enjoyed relatively tranquil relations among its many ethnic groups. A large number of refugees from conflicts in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia live in Tanzania. Tanzania won praise in 2010 for granting citizenship to 162,000 Burundian refugees, the largest-ever single naturalization of refugees, but those who were not granted citizenship faced mounting pressure in 2012 to return home.
Albinos continue to be subject to discrimination and violence, including killings and mutilations to obtain their body parts by practitioners of witchcraft. In both mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar, consensual same-sex sexual relations are illegal and punishable by lengthy prison terms, and members of the LBGT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community face societal discrimination. In July, LGBT activist Morris Mjomba was murdered in Dar-es-Salaam; no one had been arrested for the crime by year’s end.
Women’s rights are constitutionally guaranteed but not uniformly protected. Traditional and Islamic customs frequently discriminate against women in family law, especially in rural areas and in Zanzibar. Rape continues to be a serious problem, and domestic violence is reportedly common and rarely prosecuted. Nevertheless, women are relatively well represented in parliament, with about 36 percent of seats.