THREE weeks ago, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli promised heaven on earth by telling the international community that he was committed to ensuring a free and fair election in October 2020. But two questions remained unanswered.
Firstly, is the trustworthiness of his word when everyone knows how badly he has been treating his critics and political opponents. Secondly, existing legal frameworks do not support any free and fair elections.
As Tanzania’s Magufuli attempts to fool the world, his secretary-general spills the beans: Click To Tweet
President Magufuli: A Reformist or Dictator?
That is why many champions of democracy and election stakeholders have been calling for the establishment of an independent electoral commission. Without it, and going by what happened during a series of by-elections and the November 2019 civic elections, speaking of a free and fair election sounds a bit lunatic.
Seeking to fool the world and to lure international support, Magufuli sent his Foreign Affairs Minister Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi to the USA with the same “sweet-word mission.” But even before his minister returned to Tanzania, his party’s Secretary-General Dr Bashiru Ali spilt the beans with a reckless statement to the media, saying that his party, CCM, would retain state power by using state apparatus.
To hammer his point home, he cited Kenya’s KANU and Zambia’s UNIP as an example of African ruling parties that foolishly lost power because of their failure to employ state machinery in their favour.
With Magufuli as CCM flagbearer seeking reelection to the office, and based on his brutal leadership style, why would sane Tanzanians and the international community trust him on this matter? Of course, his secretary-general subconsciously spoke his mind and revealed their sinister plans.
Use of State Power and Apparatus in Kenya’s KANU and Zambia’s UNIP
What the state has been doing for almost five years consecutively, to disparage, freeze, sabotage, and suffocate the opposition – to the point of shedding blood for political victory – is enough testimony to the truth accidentally spoken by the ruling party’s secretary-general.
It is understood that Magufuli’s original motive was unveiled on February 5, 2016, when he expressed his wish to have obliterated the opposition before 2020. So, whatever Magufuli says now about the October 2020 election should be taken with great caution because he is not expected to intentionally work towards his own defeat.
His recent statement is an obvious attempt to fool the world and calm the international community that has been criticising his country’s worst human rights record.
Magufuli ‘s Leadership style puts Tanzania in Africa’s worst Human Rights Violation Book:
This may partly explain the US Embassy’s caution as it welcomed Magufuli’s January 21 statement regarding the “free and fair” election. The embassy, in its statement, called for “an election where all citizens and candidates from all parties are able to gather peacefully, express their opinions, and campaign on an equal basis.”
Sceptics, banking on the experience of Magufuli’s leadership style in the past four years, do point out that such a wish can never happen in Tanzania as long as Magufuli is the president-cum-candidate. He is simply playing tricks to spin international political opinion in his favour.
And this sheds some light on his sudden invitation of selected opposition leaders to the statehouse for secret one-on-one talks last week – Prof. Ibrahim Lipumba (CUF chairman), James Mbatia (NCCR-Chairman) and Seif Sharrif Hamad (a member of ACT-Wazalendo).'We as Tanzanians are not accustomed to this… Since independence, we have not seen the army on the streets like this,' said lawyer Fatma Karume. @fatma_karume Click To Tweet
While unsuspecting observers might be led to think the president’s move is his response to the call for national cohesion, political insiders do understand that the motive is meant to divide and weaken the opposition in order to avoid a strong coalition.
Magufuli – Hostility against Opposition in Tanzania
Since 2015, Lipumba has been working as a clear ally to Magufuli. Mbatia’s party is almost insignificant in Tanzania’s politics. He is the only member of parliament from his party, thanks to a previous opposition coalition (UKAWA) to which his party belonged.
Magufuli shows outright hostility against the main opposition party, whose top leaders face trumped-up charges. The court is expected to make a ruling on one of their serious charges tomorrow – March 10, 2020, in what some analysts expect heavy fines and possible incarceration of some of them.
At the same time, he is working to foster an informal alliance with weak opposition parties in order to justify a multiparty election for which he needs international support. Insiders say his motive is to use some of smaller parties against bigger ones and to instil internal hostilities within some of their parties. Word is out that the state is already corrupting some of them to that effect.
Tribal Politics Surfaces in Magufuli’s Government after 5 Decades:Tanzanian President John Magufuli has brought radical changes to the country since he came to power three years ago. But a clampdown on other areas, from politics to media and even sexual morality, is leading to his criticism. Click To Tweet
Tanzanian President John Magufuli has brought radical changes to the country since he came to power three years ago.
He has introduced ways to save money, waged a war on corruption, and got rid of so-called government ‘ghost workers’.
But a clampdown on other areas, from politics to media and even sexual morality, is leading to his criticism.Al Jazeera Catherine Soi reports from Dar es Salaam.
Worse still, Magufuli’s party has embarked on silently using a tribal base for political gain – a vice that has never happened in five decades of Tanzania’s politics.
Last week, the pubic was baffled with a series of audio clips circulating on social media containing a political message in Magufuli’s vernacular – Kisukuma – pleading to his tribesmen for a solid unity to ensure his re-election.Who’s to blame if repression remains? We are. Who can break its thrall? We can. Whoever has been beaten down must rise to his feet! Whoever is lost must fight. – @fatma_karume Click To Tweet
The public is silently mad at this tribalistic move which is apt to poison the country’s politics forever. For fear of retaliation from state organs, people do not speak up in public. But the leader of the opposition, Freeman Mbowe, says the politics of tribalism and hatred is unacceptable and must be avoided to avert civil strife of ineffable proportions.
Any hope for opposition coalition? There is still a glimmer of hope for a coalition of some opposition parties. CHADEMA and ACT-WAzalendo are the most likely entities that would work together to pose a formidable force against CCM.
Magufuli promised heaven on earth by telling the international community that he was committed to ensuring a free and fair election in October 2020. But two questions remained unanswered. Click To Tweet
“Respect for human rights and the rule of law has been repeatedly undermined,” the EU mission in the country announced last week after saying government pressure had led to the “forced departure” of its ambassador.
“There’s a climate of fear. To suggest that Magufuli’s policies are populist or popular is not understanding the mood among the average person. These policies are not popular, they’re authoritarian.– African Exponent
Who is opposing Magufuli and Is Tanzania a dictatorship?EDITORIAL CARTOON: #Magufuli are benevolent dictators a necessary evil in #Africa via @ndula_victor @TheStarKenya Click To Tweet
Analysts say Magufuli’s inclusion of Maalim Seif Shariff Hamad among invited opposition leaders at the statehouse last week was meant to confuse ACT-Wazalendo members and the opposition in general in two ways. Firstly, Hamad is not the party leader.
So, if the president’s intention was to speak to the leaders, he should have invited the ACT-Wazalendo party leader. Hamad has a huge influence, given his political profile in Zanzibar politics, but his invitation raised eyebrows of some ACT-Wazalendo members.
Secondly, his invitation was meant to cause suspicion of other parties against his party, which would quicken the state’s endeavour to foil any meaningful coalition of opposition parties.
SAUTI KUBWA understands from well-placed sources that Hamad, given his long experience in this type of politics, had all this in mind before and after the meeting with the president.
“Hamad is a bold and experienced politician. He cannot easily fall prey to Magufuli’s tricks. That is why when Mbatia and Lipumba were behaving strangely after their statehouse meeting with the president – separately making derogatory statements against other opposition parties – Hamad spoke to the media to clarify these issues and to assert his position,” ACT-Wazalendo leader Zitto Kabwe has told SAUTI KUBWA.
Democracy under assault by Magufuli: Tanzania’s rogue president
Magafuli once used a live broadcast from a small town in the north of the country summarily to dismiss two officials after they failed to remember instantly details in their budgets. Click To Tweet
A BIT like President Donald Trump, Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli, likes to fire employees on television. In November Mr Magafuli used a live broadcast from a small town in the north of the country summarily to dismiss two officials after they failed to remember instantly details in their budgets.
When one protested that she couldn’t reasonably be expected to be able to recall every figure, Mr Magufuli told her, “You can’t talk to me like that.”The Economist
As it stands, the face of the opposition and its potential coalition as of now banks on the fate of CHADEMA and ACT-Wazalendo. Both parties have expressed their interest in a grand coalition of parties that share the vision and have the same spirit.
While Magufuli promises free and fair elections without efforts to establish the legal mechanism towards it, and his secretary-general insists they will employ state organs to snatch victory, and the opposition still relies on the people’s power as the way to go, the international community needs to find its true place in this political game.
Article originally from: Sautikubwa.org
About the Author: Ansbert Ngurumo
Ansbert Ngurumo is a philosopher and award-winning journalist; a human rights defender, a political analyst and newspaper editor. His journalism experience spans over 20 years.
He is a former managing editor of two mainstream newspapers in Tanzania – Tanzania Daima and MwanaHALISI. Ngurumo has an academic background in literature, systematic philosophy, journalism and business management; and has mainly written for various media outlets in Tanzania, Kenya, and South Africa on politics, business, human rights, health, and education.
A former chief media advisor to a presidential candidate in Tanzania (2010), Ngurumo is a founder, editor and publisher of www.sautikubwa.org – a pro-democracy website established in April 2018 to counter the wave of authoritarian rule, and to publish “forbidden news” as the Magufuli regime has been struggling to suppress freedom of thought.
Besides journalism, Ngurumo has also been a choir trainer and choral Music composer since 1985. He is a political columnist and commentator, a leader, a blogger, a translator, and a fundraiser. He has previously translated two religious books on God’s Mercy.
In short: Journalist. Writer. Editor. Philosopher. Linguist and Translator. Chorister and Composer. Political Analyst. Media Manager. Human Rights Defender. Fundraiser. Blogger. People Leader. Public Speaker. Risk Management Analyst.