[Image: CHADEMA-UKAWA rally in Dodoma]
Ananilea Nkya is a PhD researcher on media engagement with development, University of Bradford, UK. Before joining the university, she was Executive Director of Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) for 11 years. The organization advocates and promotes women’s human rights through the media.
Tanzania’s general elections will take place on October 25th.
After 25 years of single party rule, Tanzania saw the re-introduction of multi-party democracy in 1992. General elections were conducted in five year intervals with the aim of putting into power political leadership that could end poverty among the majority of people. Poverty, along with ignorance and disease have been identified as key enemies of Tanzania since independence (Nyerere, 1979).
In 1995, Tanzania was among 117 countries that attended the World Summit on Social Development and adopted a global plan of action for eradicating poverty by 2015. The UN then defined absolute poverty as a condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to services (Gordon, 2005).
Unfortunately, after two decades of multi-party democracy and implementation of the global action plan poverty is still a prominent problem for the country’s growing population. The population has grown from 12.3 million people in 1967 to 44.9 million in 2012 (Statistics and Office of Chief Government Statistian 2013).
Evidence of poverty in Tanzania includes poor child health due to lack of food. UN Tanzania 2014 Human Development Report, estimates that 35 per cent of children below the age five in the country were facing chronic malnutrition making the country one of the 28 poorest countries in the world (Guardian, 2015). A nutritionist from Tanzania central region of Dodoma region, Stella Kimambo observes that malnutrition is a disease because if child miss proper food nutrients during 270 days in the womb and 730 days after delivery it cuts intelligence quotient to between 10 to 15 and that the sickness could never be cured (Magubira, 2015).
Millions poor in midst of richness
Although millions of Tanzanians are currently languishing in poverty, it is one of Africa’s natural resource rich countries. In 2009 alone gold earned Tanzania four billion dollars compared to negligible foreign currency earned from the mining in 2000 (Mjimba, 2011). By 2010, Tanzania had joined South Africa and Ghana in becoming the three leading African countries exporters of gold (Coulson, 2013).
Tanzania also attracts foreign financial assistance for its annual budgets mainly from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the African Development Bank, the European Commission and the World Bank. Thus, the question is: If in Tanzania huge sums of foreign monies arrive annually and multi-party politics supports governance checks and balances, why are the majority of citizens still poor?
Operating multi-party politics in single party framework
Tanzania adopted multi-party democracy, not by choice, but as an IMF loan condition. A situation shared by many states exposed to hegemonic Bretton Woods’ financial institutions following the developing countries debt crisis in the 1980s (Moyo, 2009). Samuel Makinda observed that multi-party democracy was expected to end authoritarian rule in Africa associated with ‘weaknesses in the structures and performance of public institutions’ (Makinda, 1996:555).
But has multi-party politics strengthened public institutions in Tanzania?
Realities on the ground suggest that a lot needs to be done. Jacques Morisset, a World Bank lead economist for Tanzania in July this year, observed that though some people in the country working in the informal sector earned huge amounts of money, the current level of tax revenues in the country was one of lowest in the world, Therefore ‘‘the problem reflected systemic issues in policy and administration’’ (Aman, 2015).
Not only does the government not collect taxes effectively but its agents also engage in thievery of public funds to accomplish party strategic goals in order to cling onto state power. In 2014, 306 billion shillings (about $204 million US dollars) were dubiously withdrawn from Tegeta escrow account in the Central Bank and no legal measures were taken against the high level public figures involved (Citizen, 2015). Indeed, grand corruption and thievery of public funds occurring in the last ten years saw Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and its government losing public credibility by being branded “grand thief” (fisadi) (Mtulya, 2015).
Arguably, thievery of public resources is taking a toll because the government re-introduced multi-party democracy before implementing recommendations by a commission chaired by Judge Francis Nyalali mandating the establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission and repealing of 40 laws undermining news media and political freedoms (Nyirabu, 2002).
As a result, four general elections were conducted, in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010. CCM won with landslide victories in both presidential and parliamentary seats. For example, the 2010 elections saw the CCM winning the majority of seats in the parliament as the opposition won only 22 percent or 80 seats out of 357 seats (Coulson, 2013).
The main opposition party CHADEMA accused CCM of manipulating presidential votes (uchakachuaji), and demanded writing of a new constitution which among others, would establish an independent electoral commission before the 2015 elections. Unsurprisingly, it did not happen because although in 2011 President Jakaya Kikwete formed a Constitution Commission chaired by Judge Joseph Warioba which collected views from the citizens countrywide and prepared the Draft Constitution. However, CCM members who constituted more than 80 percent of Constitutional Assembly, refused to endorse the citizens’ Draft Constitution (Nkya, 2014),
Interestingly, CCM’s refusal to adopt the citizens’ Proposed New Constitution saw four opposition parties- CHADEMA, CUF, NCCR-Mageuzi forming a Union of Citizens Constitution- Umoja wa Katiba ya Wananchi (UKAWA) as a strategy to disrupt the power base of the CCM in elections.
Future possibility of ending poverty
This year’s elections have attracted national and international attention for a number of reasons. Firstly, UKAWA have filled single candidates for Presidential, Parliamentary and Councillorship posts. Secondly, two former Prime Ministers, Fredrick Sumaye and Edward Lowassa, a key CCM founder Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru, former Home Affairs minister Laurence Macha and ambassador Juma Mwapachu are among CCM members who so far have abandoned CCM and are for UKAWA campaign theme— change (mabadiliko). Thirdly, arguably, citizens are tired of CCM empty promises.
Therefore, there is cut throat competition between CCM and CHADEMA-UKAWA presidential candidates as well as candidates in junior posts.
A new constitution among other developments, will establish an independent electoral commission for conducting free and fair elections. In this way any political party elected in future will work harder to accomplish its promises as well as avoiding corruption and thievery of public funds and resources (ufisadi); practices which undermine efforts to end poverty in Tanzania.
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