From: Zitto Zuberi Kabwe
Thu, Jan 7, 2010
Ingawa utafiti huu ni mambo mengi tunayoyajua, inatupa mwanga na kuona watafiti wanavyoona upinzani Tanzania. Imetoka katika jarida la Journal of Democracy la October.
tanzania’s missing opposition
Barak Hoffman and Lindsay Robinson
Barak Hoffman is the executive director of the Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown University. Lindsay Robinson is a master’s student at Georgetown University in the Department of Government’s Democracy and Governance program.
Just before the announcement of the results of Tanzania’s 1995 elections—its first multiparty contest in more than thirty years—the soon-to-be president-elect, Benjamin Mkapa of the long-ruling Revolutionary Party of Tanzania (Chama Cha Mapinduzi—CCM), proudly boasted that the party “didn’t need to cheat because it was quite certain that CCM was going to win.”1 Such swagger is characteristic of the CCM’s electoral campaigns. In the nearly fifteen years since Tanzania inaugurated multiparty elections, the CCM has not faced any serious opposition to its rule.
What explains the chronic weakness of opposition parties in Tanzania? The easy explanation is a combination of uninspiring leadership and little popular demand for change, a line of reasoning that also defines the CCM as a relatively benign hegemon acceptable to the vast majority of Tanzanians. Although this argument is based on a significant amount of truth, it overlooks the CCM’s deliberate attempts to suppress those who contest its near-monopoly of power, including its willingness to resort to coercion when other methods fail. Such realities raise serious questions about the ruling party’s benevolent reputation.
Many of the hurdles that CCM opponents face are self-imposed, but that explanation alone does not suffice. Instead, the marginal status of rival parties results in large measure from the CCM’s intentional methods of silencing them. The CCM employs three strategies to impede its competitors: 1) regulating political competition, the media, and civil society; 2) blurring the boundary between the party and state; and 3) the targeted use of blatantly coercive illegal actions. Before considering these measures in greater detail, however, we must first take a look at the country’s history and the background to its transition toward democracy.2
The United Republic of Tanzania was formed in 1964 as a union between two newly independent ex-British colonies, Tanganyika (mainland Tanzania) and the People’s Republic of Zanzibar (comprising the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba). The unity agreement granted Zanzibar a fair degree of autonomy, allowing it to keep its own president and parliament in addition to its national representation. Julius Nyerere, the leader of Tanganyika’s liberation movement and its president since independence in 1962, became president of Tanzania in 1964.
The mainland and Zanzibar possess sharply different demographics. The mainland of Tanzania has a population of approximately forty million, primarily black African with no dominant majority ethnic group, and it is fairly evenly split between Christians and Muslims. Zanzibar, by contrast, has a population of about one million, divided mainly between Arabs and black Africans, and is almost entirely Muslim. While there are few ethnic tensions on the mainland, there are tensions between Africans and Arabs on Zanzibar, deriving from the long history of Arab economic and political dominance over Africans on the islands. Overall, however, the country has remained peaceful and united despite its diversity, in part because of Nyerere’s advancement of Swahili as the national language.
In 1967, guided by Nyerere, Tanzania became a socialist state. Ten years later, with a new constitution and the formation of the CCM—a merger of Nyerere’s Tanganyika African National Union and the islands’ Afro-Shirazi Party—it became a de jure one party-state as well. In the mid-1970s, however, the country’s economy began to atrophy, and by the middle of the next decade, it had become clear to the CCM leadership that socialism was not viable. Thus they began to move toward a more market-oriented system.
Although the CCM undertook Tanzania’s economic transition to capitalism from a position of weakness, it initiated political changes from a posture of strength. The party began to move the country toward democracy in the early 1990s, largely due to the influence of former president Nyerere, who had voluntarily left office in 1985. When Nyerere commenced discussions on a political transition, neither an organized opposition to the CCM nor a demand for a multiparty democracy existed. On the contrary, in a 1992 public-opinion survey 77 percent of respondents claimed that they preferred the country to remain a one-party state with the CCM in control.3
Nyerere advocated a democratic transition in Tanzania not because of internal opposition but because external donors, who provided more than 30 percent of the country’s GDP in aid from 1985 to 1993, were pressuring the government to open its political system. In addition, Nyerere and his supporters believed that the growing number of democratic transitions elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa would inevitably catalyze pressures for similar changes in Tanzania. CCM leaders who supported moving to a multiparty system understood that if they initiated changes before calls for them grew strong, they would be able to shape the new democratic rules in their favor. In this the party has largely succeeded, and Tanzania today is not a democracy, but a one-party hegemonic regime under CCM rule.
Tanzania’s transition toward democracy corresponds to what Gerardo Munck and Carol Leff term “transition from above” and what Samuel Huntington calls “transplacement.”4 These terms refer to a ruling power that initiates a transition in the context of a weak opposition so that the ruling power can establish rules favorable to its retention of political control. The CCM’s actions correlate closely with Munck and Leff’s argument that the mode of transition and the balance of power among agents of change strongly affect posttransition political institutions. The CCM took full advantage of being the sole agent of change, putting in place a set of policies that significantly impedes the development of an effective political opposition.
Lack of Demand for Democracy
One of the simplest explanations for the weakness of opposition parties in Tanzania is lack of demand for them, and a reading of selected survey data can support this contention. According to the 2008 Afrobarometer survey, 56 percent of respondents in Tanzania claimed to trust opposition parties either not at all or only a little bit, while 51 percent claimed to trust the CCM a lot. Along the same lines, of the 81 percent of respondents who said that they felt close to a political party, 90 percent responded that the party they felt close to was the CCM.5 Similarly, 79 percent responded that if an election were held tomorrow, they would vote for the CCM. In addition, Tanzanians are overwhelmingly pleased with the way in which democracy is functioning under CCM rule. Seventy-four percent of respondents considered Tanzania to be a full democracy or nearly so, far above the mean of 59 percent in the nineteen countries included in the 2008 Afrobarometer survey. Moreover, 71 percent claimed to be satisfied or fairly satisfied with democracy, the third-highest level of satisfaction (behind Botswana and Ghana) and 22 percentage points above the mean for all the countries surveyed. Given these results, one might surmise that Tanzanians either do not desire multiparty competition or do not understand the concept of democracy.
This reading of the data, however, presents a skewed picture of Tanzanians’ beliefs and knowledge about democracy. First, demand for multiparty democracy is strong. In the 2008 Afrobarometer survey, 72 percent of Tanzanian respondents preferred democracy to any other form of government, and 63 percent rejected one-party rule. In addition, 61 percent did not believe that party competition is likely to lead to conflict.
Moreover, Tanzanians largely understand the concept of democracy. The Afrobarometer survey described three hypothetical countries and asked respondents to what extent each was a democracy. Eighty percent of respondents claimed that a country with many political parties and free elections is a full democracy or a democracy with minor problems. By contrast, 76 percent claimed that a country which has one dominant political party and a feeble opposition, and where people are afraid to express their political opinions, is not a democracy or is at best a democracy with major problems. Finally, only 20 percent responded that a country that has one major political party and many small ones, and where people are free to express their opinions (the situation that most resembles Tanzania today), is a full democracy. Thus it is difficult to accept the argument that Tanzanians do not desire multiple political parties or understand the concept of democracy.
The aforementioned data are difficult to interpret. While the vast majority of Tanzanians prefer multiparty democracy to any alternative form of government, they express no strong desire to elect any party other than the CCM. Although reconciling these divergent preferences is challenging, they are understandable given the CCM’s conduct compared to that of opposition parties, especially during elections.
CCM campaigns are highly sophisticated, and the party spends lavishly on them. In the 2005 election, now-president Jakaya Kikwete attended approximately nine-hundred rallies and spoke to an estimated 70,000 people each day. Most rallies were highly orchestrated affairs, combining political speeches with entertainment and widespread distribution of CCM paraphernalia, such as t-shirts, hats, and posters. Moreover, in a recent by-election for the parliamentary seat from Busanda in Mwanza Region, the CCM dispatched twenty top leaders to election rallies, including regional MPs and three ministers, and raised approximately US$1.5 million (about $12 per voter) for the campaign. Because such organizational capacity and resources greatly exceed those of any other party, it is not surprising that voters continue to choose the CCM over the alternatives. In addition, while the CCM’s campaigns highlight the party’s achievements, those mounted by opposition parties often advertise their weaknesses.
Opposition parties in Tanzania need little assistance in marginalizing themselves: They fight each other constantly and consistently fail to work together, and their leaders behave in ways that do not inspire confidence, thereby discouraging all but their most loyal adherents. The Civic United Front (CUF) is the only opposition party that consistently wins a respectable level of votes in parliamentary elections, largely due to its strength in Zanzibar, its home base.6 CUF supporters, however, have attacked CCM members and destroyed their property, primarily in Zanzibar, thus gaining a reputation for violence that has harmed CUF efforts at widening its narrow regional appeal. During campaigns, CUF partisans frequently tussle with CCM supporters, and they are the most likely perpetrators of a number of assaults against the CCM and state property—stoning CCM cars, attacking campaign meetings, vandalizing CCM branch offices, and bombing government buildings. The CUF also acquired a reputation for ineptitude after failing to negotiate a power sharing agreement with the CCM in Zanzibar following the 2000 election (which many, including international observers, suspect that the ruling party had rigged).
The most promising opposition figure outside the CUF has been Augustine Mrema, formerly of the National Convention for Constitution and Reform–Mageuzi (NCCR-Mageuzi) and now the leader of the Tanzania Labor Party (TLP). Mrema’s actions, however, make it difficult for voters to support him, as he has managed to wreck both opposition parties to which he has belonged. Prior to joining opposition forces, Mrema had held three ministerial posts, including deputy prime minister, under various CCM governments and acquired a reputation for integrity and fighting corruption. After being dismissed as minister of labor and youth development in early 1995, however, Mrema left
the ruling party to become the NCCR-Mageuzi’s presidential candidate.
At the time, Mrema was the great hope of anti-CCM forces, and the ruling party considered him a real threat. Despite CCM harassment during the campaign, Mrema still managed to win 28 percent of the vote. Yet after the election, he accused a number of NCCR-Mageuzi leaders of being CCM infiltrators, causing a major rift in the party. In 1999, Mrema quit NCCR-Mageuzi, stealing its property on his way out, and then joined the TLP, where his embarrassing and reckless behavior escalated. Besides fragmenting the TLP’s leadership, he used members’ dues to purchase a home and, while campaigning for the 2005 election, helped himself to $98,000 from the party’s coffers for ethically dubious expenditures—$83,000 to buy alcohol for voters and $15,000 to hire a monkey to attract people to his rallies. Not surprisingly, Mrema’s popularity imploded. In the 2005 election, he received less than one percent of the vote.
Finally, the opposition has consistently failed to work together. The planned unity ticket between NCCR and CUF in 1995 collapsed because they were unable to agree on a running mate for Mrema. In 2000, both the CUF and the Party for Democracy and Progress (Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo—known as Chadema) backed the CUF’s Ibrahim Lipumba as their presidential candidate, but other opposition parties did not. And a coalition was never seriously considered in 2005,
because CUF leaders suspected that their counterparts in the smaller opposition parties were CCM plants and refused to collaborate with them.
Suppressing the Opposition
Although the CCM’s opponents are weak and the demand for their point of view is low, these factors alone do not account for the party’s continued dominance in the multiparty era. In fact, opposition parties have been more effective than many realize, especially considering the methods—both legal and illegal—that the CCM employs to ensure that those who oppose it do not achieve meaningful representation. Thus the opposition parties’ electoral performance tells only part of the story.
The ruling party has developed sophisticated legal mechanisms to ensure its continued control through the regulation of political competition, civil society, and the media. Groups seeking to oppose the CCM routinely confront policies that regulate political competition in ways that make them appear even weaker than they are. These include biases in the electoral formula that allot the CCM more than its proportional share of seats in parliament, an electoral commission that lacks independence, campaign-finance rules that overwhelmingly favor the CCM, and onerous party-registration procedures.
The most critical institutional design favoring the CCM is that of the electoral system, which has guaranteed an overwhelming CCM majority in parliament even though the party’s share of the vote has not always been equally large. Tanzania uses a single-member, first-past-the-post (plurality) electoral system for presidential, parliamentary, and local elections—the same electoral system utilized prior to Tanzania’s return to multiparty competition. The plurality system means that parties failing to receive a majority of votes can still win office.
Plurality voting has permitted the CCM to win a share of parliamentary seats exceeding its share of the popular vote by 20 percent in each of the three parliamentary elections since the country’s transition toward democracy: In 1995, the CCM received 59 percent of the vote and 80 percent of the seats; in 2000, it received 65 percent and 87 percent, respectively; and in 2005, 70 percent and 90 percent.7 As a result, the CCM has kept the two-thirds majority needed to pass constitutional amendments in the National Assembly, even though its vote share reached that level only once, in 2005.8 The margins have been similar in local elections.
The CCM has also used the design of the ballots to discourage voters from supporting opposition parties. In the 1995 and 2005 national elections, ballots provided a space for voters’ registration numbers or had serial numbers printed on them that connected the ballot to the voter’s identity. Despite opposition protest, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) refused to change the ballot designs, and the NEC director defended the system by saying that it was necessary to “assist when queries arise through petitions after the polls and results are announced.”9
The NEC also allowed the CCM to use the Tanzanian national emblem as its ballot picture in 2005, a clear suggestion that a vote for the party was a vote for the country, while a vote for the opposition was not. It is not surprising that the NEC allows ballots compromising secrecy and portraying the opposition as anti-Tanzanian. While officially the commission is independent, de facto it is not. The president has the sole authority to appoint and remove all commissioners, and the commission’s funding is dependent on the CCM-dominated parliament.
Campaign finance is another major built-in hurdle for the opposition. Campaigning in Tanzania is expensive and difficult. Much of the country’s population lives in rural areas. Villages typically lie miles apart on unpaved roads, making it difficult and expensive to visit voters. In the 1995 election, the government granted subsidies to all candidates for presidential or parliamentary office (approximately $10,000 and $1,000, respectively, per candidate), because it did not fear any real threat, wished to appear supportive of democratic competition, and wanted to divide its opponents’ vote share by attracting more candidates. But when the opposition captured more of the popular vote that year than the CCM expected—roughly 40 percent in the parliamentary and presidential races—parliament passed a new subsidy law strongly favoring the CCM.
The new statute disburses half the subsidy in proportion to a party’s popular vote share in the previous election and the other half according to how many seats a party holds in parliament and local governments.10 Since the distribution of seats in parliament and in local councils is skewed heavily toward the CCM, the formula benefits the party disproportionately even after accounting for the CCM’s massive margins of victory. Take, for example, the 2005 election subsidies: The CCM received more than seven times the amount of the next largest party, the CUF, even though the CCM received only five times as many votes. Moreover, this money often finds its way directly into the hands of the electorate, as the law permits candidates to distribute gifts, including money, to voters.11
Opposition parties must also overcome burdensome party-registration procedures. In addition to fulfilling certain ideological conditions, such as secularity and acknowledgment of the union, parties must produce proof of a membership that includes at least two-hundred people from ten or more of the country’s 26 regions; two of these regions must be in Zanzibar. Thus parties that have a limited support base geographically, but in their own localities are stronger than the CCM, are not allowed to compete. This policy also makes it costly to form a new party because registration requires proof of a nationwide presence. In addition, the statute prohibits existing parties from forming official coalitions without registering as a new party.
Regulating Civil Society and the Media
The CCM actively thwarts not only aspiring opposition parties and politicians, but also civil society and the media. The Non-Governmental Organizations Act of 2002 is major roadblock that keeps civil society from playing an active role in politics. This statute requires that NGOs must serve “the public interest,” defined as “all forms of activities aimed at providing for and improving the standard of living or eradication of poverty of a given group of people or the public at large.”12 Since the law defines the public interest in terms of economic development, the government can and has prohibited NGOs from undertaking political activities, thereby keeping groups unable to register as political parties from forming NGOs as an alternative way to address political concerns. The law also prevents NGOs whose interests might be aligned with opposition parties from campaigning on their behalf.
The NGO legislation permits the government to regulate all aspects of civil society, not just restrictions on political activities. Once an NGO has registered, the government monitors it via a required annual report. If at any time the organization oversteps its mission as outlined in its state approved constitution, the government has the authority to suspend the group.13 Choosing not to register as an NGO, however, is risky. Any member of a group that attempts to evade government regulation by not registering faces criminal charges and hefty fines (sometimes up to $400), a year in prison, or both, plus a ban on joining another NGO for five years.14
The CCM has wielded the NGO law against organizations that it perceives to be a threat. For example, when HakiElimu (Education for All) broadcast a series of advertisements in 2005 criticizing the government for failing to improve primary education as it had promised, the government prohibited the NGO from undertaking studies or publishing information on the education sector, and enforced the ban for eighteen months.
The ruling party has also imposed a legal framework inimical to freedom of the press. In 1993—two years before the country’s return to multiparty elections—the CCM passed a broadcasting law that established state-owned radio and television, prohibited stations without a state issued license from operating, and allowed the government to regulate media content.15 Since most Tanzanians get their news by radio, the law allowed the CCM effectively to monopolize the dissemination of information to the vast majority of the electorate. As a result, the CCM receives far more media exposure than opposition parties. During the 2005 election cycle, it received almost thirty hours of radio coverage—as much as the next thirteen largest parties combined and more than three times the coverage of the CUF, the largest opposition party.
Legislation also deters journalists from criticizing the ruling party or the government, and enables the government to keep the media from exposing information that it would rather keep under wraps. The president has “absolute discretion” to prohibit the broadcasting or publishing of information that is not in “the public interest or in the interest of peace and good order.”16 In addition, sedition and libel clauses are often vague and give the judiciary wide discretion over their interpretation. For example, defamation need not be “directly or completely expressed.” Rather, speech must stay within the bounds of what is “reasonably sufficient” to make a point, and judges have the authority to determine what constitutes gratuitous criticism.17 Consequently, in 2004 there were more than eighty libel suits pending in high courts,18 and in 2008 the weekly Mwanahalisi was suspended for three months for publishing a story alleging a rift in the CCM leadership.
The press’s fight against these regulations has succeeded in persuading the ruling party to relax their enforcement, but not to change them. This limited achievement is due in part to the rapid expansion of the media: Between 1992 and 2006, the number of newspapers with more-than-local readerships increased from 7 to 42; radio stations from 1 to 47; and television stations from 0 to 15. These media outlets have joined together to form a lobby powerful enough to impose a four-month-long blackout on coverage of the minister of information, culture, and sport after he suspended Mwanahalisi without what the media considered to be just cause. The media also played an active role in exposing corruption scandals that led to the resignation of former prime minister Edward Lowassa and the firing of former Bank of Tanzania governor Daudi Ballali.
During Tanzania’s transition to a de jure multiparty system, the CCM made no moves to separate the party from the state. Rather, its leadership deliberately created a set of political institutions that blurred the distinction between the two in order to keep its position and power secure. This strategy is twofold: First, the CCM’s rigid organizational structure ensures members’ compliance with the prerogatives of the party leadership. Second, the CCM’s control over civil servants allows the party to use government institutions to inhibit the opposition.
In most Tanzanian cities and towns, CCM offices are typically open, party officials are working hard, and their knowledge of the party’s policies is strong. The CCM leadership set in motion this machine-like efficiency by aligning its own goals (winning elections) with incentives (advancement through the party) for the party’s branch-level workers. CCM branch-office staffers are responsible for bringing citizens to party rallies and for securing their votes. Senior CCM officials can easily verify how effectively the branch worker has carried out these tasks—the former by turnout, the latter by election results. Those who perform well advance in the party hierarchy. In other words, ambitious junior party officials have every incentive to give the CCM leadership what it wants. In addition, since any elected official who votes against the party can be expelled, the party structure allows CCM leaders the freedom to adopt whatever policies they desire.
As a result of this impressive structure, the CCM has the capacity to implement far-reaching social changes without losing political control. Socialism (ujamaa) may have led to disastrous economic consequences, but creating a one-party state, nationalizing the economy, and implementing collective farming nonetheless required a highly organized political structure. This institutional setup has proven extremely useful and resilient, and has allowed the party to change policies radically when necessary without losing political control. For example, when in the late 1980s it became clear that socialism was causing an economic catastrophe, the party was able to restructure the economy along capitalist lines without suffering any loss of political authority.
The CCM’s structure is as useful for suppressing opposition as it is for implementing policy. This is most evident at the regional and district (local) levels. The highest regional and district authorities—the regional commissioner (RC) and the district commissioner (DC)—are appointed directly by the president rather than elected.19 At the same time, the CCM constitution explicitly states that the RCs and DCs are the party’s representatives in the region and the district, thus obscuring where the party ends and the state begins.20
RCs and DCs use their power—especially control over the police—to promote CCM activities and interfere with those of the opposition. For example, holding any large gathering, demonstration, or rally requires police permission—due to public safety concerns, according to the government. Moreover, permit applications require that the applicant list every topic on the agenda, and if an allowed rally strays from that program, the police can break up the meeting. The police frequently reject permit applications for rallies where popular opposition leaders will be speaking—as happened in the run-up to the 2000 elections. In late 1999, Mrema, running for the TLP,
was repeatedly refused permission to hold rallies in his home region of Kilimanjaro. The following year, CUF’s Ibrahim Lipumba was barred from speaking in the Kagera and Kigoma regions. By hiding behind the defense of public safety, the state can claim that its decisions are for the common good rather than for narrow partisan purposes. But the pattern of bans belies these claims: Although opposition candidates consistently run afoul of complex campaign procedures and laws, CCM candidates seem to avoid these problems entirely.
RCs and DCs have final approval over not just the police, but all government employees in their jurisdiction. Civil servants are accountable to the district executive director (DED), who reports to the DC. DEDs have employed numerous tactics to ensure that civil servants help the CCM to maintain political control, including:
• Allowing the CCM to use public facilities (stadiums, schools) for campaigning, but denying such use to opposition parties;
• Having tax collectors target opposition supporters as well as business owners who fail to support or vote for the CCM;
• Threatening to revoke the licenses of business owners who do not support the CCM;
• Ordering police to shut down businesses during the CCM rallies to boost attendance;
• Telling public-school teachers to encourage their students to attend the CCM rallies and to discourage them from going to opposition gatherings;
• Telling citizens that basic services are contingent on a ruling-party victory in their area;
• Threatening civil servants with firing if they fail to mobilize the electorate for the CCM;
• Placing civil servants on fundraising committees for CCM candidates.
Typically, these legal means of controlling political competition, containing civil society and the media, and blurring the lines between party and state are effective at suppressing opposition movements quietly, and hence the party has a reputation for benign hegemony. When these tools fail to eliminate a particular threat, however, the CCM has employed clearly coercive and illegal measures to win elections.
Skirting the Law
As the ruling party, the CCM can for the most part act with impunity. Because it controls the police and security services, it can even operate outside the bounds of the law, jailing or beating opposition supporters at will. And when campaign funding runs dry, the governing party can dip into state coffers, stealing public monies so that it can keep campaigning.
The police have jailed opposition-party leaders and members, members of NGOs, and journalists under numerous pretexts in order to prevent an unwanted activity, in retaliation for something, or to intimidate other activists. The CCM will go to great lengths when it perceives a political threat. For example, during the 1995 presidential campaign, the minister of home affairs wrote to the inspector-general of police, requesting him to find some reason to arrest Mrema, the leading opposition figure at the time, and to ban his party’s rallies. When the private weekly Shaba printed the letter making this demand, its editor and director were arrested. The state did not deny the letter’s veracity; instead, it claimed that the pair had been detained for revealing official secrets.
The CCM plot to end Mrema’s campaign was not an isolated occurrence. Before each election, opposition parties find that they are banned from holding campaign events, and their presidential candidates spend an inordinate amount of time in jail. Mrema was arrested on sedition charges twice before the 2000 election and once before the 2005 election. CUF’s Lipumba was detained without charge twice in the run-up to the 2005 election. Christopher Mtikila, the outspoken leader of the unregistered Democratic Party, has been arrested at least eight times over the years. Yet only one conviction resulted from all these arrests—Mtikila’s for sedition in 1999—and most cases never went to trial. The police have never arrested a CCM presidential candidate.
The CCM has also frequently resorted to violence against its opponents and critics. During the 2005 campaign, Lipumba received death threats via cell-phone text messages and was beaten and robbed in Bukoba. In 2004, a popular opposition MP representing the Moshi Rural constituency, who had already been arrested five times while campaigning for a by-election, was run off the road, beaten, and robbed the night before the poll. In January 2008, shortly after Mwanahalisi published a list of corrupt officials, two of the paper’s editors were disfigured when an assailant threw acid in their faces. In October of that same year, police employed heavy-handed tactics against Chadema in a by-election for the Tarime District’s parliamentary seat. The deceased Chadema MP had been popular in the area, thus the CCM leadership saw his death as an opportunity at last to capture the seat. Prior to the election, police broke up a Chadema rally using tear gas and rubber bullets and arrested 29 people, including Chadema’s parliamentary candidate. In response to the attack, the head of police special operations said, “In a war anything can happen,” and accused the Chadema supporters of attacking police.21
The highest levels of violence that the CCM has countenanced have occurred in Zanzibar. The October 2000 election, in particular, exposed the willingness of the island’s CCM faction to use force to retain control. While harassment, violence, and intimidation occurred before the election, the greatest brutality came afterward—once voters realized that the CCM had rigged the poll. The blatant theft of the election led CUF members to demonstrate. In retaliation, police fired on a group of three hundred or so CUF protestors, and there ensued a massive wave of repression featuring the arbitrary arrest, torture, and murder of suspected CUF supporters. The violence continued to escalate until January 2001, when police killed at least 35 CUF supporters and wounded hundreds at a party demonstration. It is important to recall, however, that because of the semiautonomy of the CCM branch in Zanzibar, we cannot directly attribute its actions there to those of the overall party.
Subjecting the opposition to physical violence and incarceration is not the only unequivocally illegal measure that the CCM uses to stay in power. Party members have also conspired to steal state resources to finance electoral campaigns. Most egregious was the 2005 theft of $111 million from the Bank of Tanzania. Those under investigation for the crime claim that high-ranking CCM officials ordered them to do it, and a Ugandan newspaper traced at least $20 million of this money to CCM campaign expenditures in the competitive 2005 parliamentary races in Songea Urban and Kigoma Urban constituencies.
A decade and a half after Tanzania’s transition to a multiparty system, a viable opposition still does not exist, nor is there evidence to suggest that one will materialize in the near future. On the contrary, the opposition’s vote share has declined with each election, as has their representation in parliament. Not surprisingly, public opinion about Tanzanian politics mirrors this pattern. While we can attribute the opposition parties’ failure to win over the public in part to their own insalubrious behavior, that alone does not explain why opposition parties remain feeble in Tanzania. The ruling party’s sophisticated and ruthless techniques have largely kept the opposition ineffective and unpopular. The CCM has overwhelmingly succeeded in utilizing its vast spheres of control to ensure its continued dominance. To repress opposition quietly, the CCM manipulates the rules that govern political competition, civil society, and the media, and consciously obscures the division between itself and the state. If those methods fail, the party takes other actions, often coercive and illegal, to guarantee that it will prevail at the polls.
Although it would be inaccurate to say that the CCM silences all opponents—opposition parties do win seats in parliament, and the CUF is a powerful political force in Zanzibar—there are nonetheless troubling signs of political suppression. The international community has long known that elections in Zanzibar have never been free and fair, but the situation on the mainland also is far from perfect. The mainland CCM has mobilized, sometimes violently, to squelch political threats. Beneath the CCM’s image as a benign hegemon lies a merciless force. Relentless in its quest to extend its reign, the CCM employs a deliberate strategy to repress pposition. Thus, while the ruling party currently allows for generally free and fair balloting, it is an open question how the party will react if a
nationally competitive opposition party should manage to emerge.
1. “Future Tanzanian President Rejects Election Fraud Claims,” Agence France Presse, 20 November 1995.
2. Although the term “transition toward democracy” is awkward, it better characterizes recent political changes in Tanzania than “transition to democracy,” as the country still is not one.
3. Amon Chaligha et al., “Uncritical Citizens or Patient Trustees? Tanzanians’ Views 136 Journal of Democracyof Political and Economic Reform,” Afrobarometer Working Paper 18, March 2002; available at www.afrobarometer.org/papers/AfropaperNo18.pdf.
4. Gerardo Munck and Carol Skalnik Leff, “Modes of Transition and Democratization:
South America and Eastern Europe in Comparative Perspective,” Comparative Politics 29 (April 1997): 343–62; Samuel P. Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991).
5. Excluding those whose responses were coded as “not applicable.”
6. The CUF consistently receives approximately 40 percent of the popular vote in Zanzibar and controls about 40 percent of the seats in the Zanzibar House of Representatives. The party’s base of support is the islands’ non-African population.
7. Electoral Institute of Southern Africa, “Tanzania: Election Archive”; available at www.eisa.org.za/WEP/tanelectarchive.htm.
8. One can argue that since single-member districts are the systems most likely to create two parties, the electoral system will not benefit the CCM in the long run, as it will hasten the creation of a national opposition. While this is certainly a possibility, so far it has magnified CCM’s victories, not caused the opposition to coalesce.
9. “Opposition Party Threatens to Pull Out of Election Over Defective Ballot Papers,” Radio Tanzania, via BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 16 October 1995; “Tanzanian Poll Body Defends Ballot Paper Design,” Guardian (Dar es Salaam), 15 October 2005.
10. If a candidate runs unopposed, he or she is deemed to have won 51 percent of the vote for purposes of subsidy allocation; see Government of Tanzania, Act No. 11 (1996) to Amend Political Parties Act No. 5 (1992), secs. 16, 17, and 18.
11. Benson Bana, “A Framework Paper for Studying Political Parties on Issues Related to Party Conduct and Management,” Research and Education for Democracy in Tanzania Working Paper, 2007. Recently, the High Court judged the practice to be illegal, although it is not yet clear whether it will be allowed in the 2010 election.
12. Government of Tanzania, Non-Governmental Organizations Act, 2002, part I, sec. 2.
13. Global Integrity, “2006 Country Report: Tanzania”; available at www.globalintegrity.org/reports/2006/pdfs/tanzania.pdf.
14. Non-Governmental Organizations Act, 2002, part IV, section 35.
15. Government of Tanzania, Broadcasting Services Act, 1993.
16. Government of Tanzania, Newspapers Act, 1976, sec. 27 (2).
17. Newspapers Act, 1976, sec. 40 (2) and 43.
18. U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “Tanzania: 2004 Country Report on Human Rights Practices,” 28 February 2005; available at www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41630.htm; we were unable to find more recent data.
19. Government of Tanzania, Regional Administration Act, 1997, part II, sec. 5 (2).
20. CCM Constitution, secs. 5 and 6.
21. “Opposition Party and Police Spar in By-Election Campaign,” Citizen (Dar es Salaam), 8 October 2008.