Tag Archives: democracy

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

Presentation: The Media and Democracy in Tanzania

This is a copy of the presentation I made yesterday at a public seminar organised by the Britain-Tanzania Society (BTS) and the Centre for African Studies at SOAS.

The Media and Democracy in Tanzania on Prezi

H/T to Pernille for introducing me to the wonder that is prezi.com. And thanks to Andrew Coulson of BTS for arranging the event and inviting me to present, and to Freddy Macha for his insightful comments, bringing a very valuable historical and cultural perspective to the discussion.

The power of “we”

BAD 2012Today is Blog Action Day, and this year’s theme is the power of “we”. So I thought I would throw a few observations out there.

About how Jimmy Savile got away with his abuses for so long, at least in part by denying his victims the power of “we”. They were isolated individuals, lacking the confidence that they would be taken seriously if they spoke up. Now, when the first accusations came out, the trickle quickly became a flood, with each person speaking out giving more and more confidence to other victims, making it easier for them to do the same. This is what can happen when people are denied the power of “we”. Continue reading