Tag Archives: democracy

Yesterday was Access to Information Day 2017. Meanwhile, in Tanzania …

Mwananchi, 29/9/17

As we marked Access to Information Day, 2017 …

… the communications regulator – TCRA – held a consultation on proposed new online content regulations. Among other things, the regulations would require all bloggers and online forums to register with TCRA, to identify any readers or users who post comments or other content, and to pre-moderate all user-submitted content. The implications for blogs and other platforms for public debate and whistle-blowing, including the hugely popular Jamii Forums, would be devastating. Continue reading

How many registered voters does Tanzania need for the elections to have legitimacy?

voter registration East Africa since 1995Tanzania’s Biometric Voter Registration process is now proceeding at full pace. It had previously been delayed for several months while waiting for voter registration kits, which meant it was impossible to conduct the constitutional referendum as scheduled at the end of April (as predicted here). Now, there are concerns that the process is happening too fast, not giving people enough time for everyone to register:

“The machines are just too few,” complained one resident of Geita. “This situation will cause more chaos because there are very many people remaining yet there are only two days left.” And according to the Daily News, people in Arusha “have now resorted to spending nights at the registration centres in order to beat the jam”.

This led me to think: what proportion of the voting age population needs to be registered in order for an election to be considered legitimate? Continue reading

Chart of the week #22: Trying to explain the low turnout

Last week, I drew attention to the extremely low turnout figures recorded at the Tanzanian 2010 presidential election. This week, I thought I would look at whether these turnout figures vary between different sections of society.

For this, I have turned again to the 2012 Afrobarometer survey, which asked respondents whether or not they voted in 2010, and if not, why not.

Overall, 81% said they voted. This is much higher than the actual turnout as reported by the National Electoral Commission, which was 43%. And the Afrobarometer methodology explains that the survey included respondents from the age of 15 upwards. Given that only those aged 20 and above in 2012 would have been eligible to vote in 2010, that means a considerable portion of the Afrobarometer sample were not eligible in 2010. Continue reading

Chart of the week #11: Who supports CCM and Chadema, by age?

Source: Afrobarometer.org, data from 2012

Source: Afrobarometer.org, data from 2012

The trend is clear:

  • Chadema’s support is much stronger among younger Tanzanians (33%) than older Tanzanians (14%)
  • CCM’s support goes the other way: much stronger among over 50s (71%) than under 30s (47%)

Continue reading

CCM Hoyee! Zitto and Chadema in a mess. As usual, it’s all about 2015

Cartoon from wavuti.com

Cartoon from wavuti.com

We all saw it coming, and yet we were surprised when it came. Zitto Kabwe was sacked by his party late last week.

No longer will Zitto be Chadema’s deputy secretary, nor deputy leader of the opposition in parliament. There’s even a suggestion that he will be stripped of his party membership, with uncertain consequences for his status as an MP – Tanzania doesn’t allow independent MPs, and “crossing the floor” to join another party mid-term is unheard of.

I will come to the implications in a moment. But first, some background is essential.

Zitto has long been a difficult character, both for the government and his own party leaders. He is quite possibly the most popular political figure in the country (though no data exists to confirm this) and has been a huge asset to his party. At only 37 years old, he has an appeal to the youth vote that no other politician can match. But there have always been suspicions that his energy and drive owed more to his personal ambition (he had already indicated his intention to run for the presidency in 2015) than his party allegiance.  Continue reading

A step backwards on the road to democracy

"In order that a paper is not closed down. Obama: we envy Tanzania's economy. Mafia declines aid. Tanzania supports Japan."

“To avoid closure, papers should write like this. Obama: we envy Tanzania’s economy. Mafia declines aid, they have no problems. Tanzania supports Japan.” From Mwananchi, October 2010.

Tanzania trades on its reputation as an “island of peace,” (relatively) well governed, (relatively) democratic, and (relatively) peaceful. It is getting harder and harder to justify that reputation.

On Saturday, two of Tanzania’s leading newspapers – Mwananchi and Mtanzania – were suspended from publication by the government (unofficial English translation), Mwananchi for 14 days and Mtanzania for 90.

Freedom of the press is a fundamental pillar of democracy, a cornerstone of good governance and accountability. Any restrictions on that freedom – which can in some cases be justified – should be handled with extreme caution and used only in the most extreme circumstances. These are not those circumstances. Continue reading