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President Suluhu Hassan 6 May gave go-ahead to revive constitution-writing process, which had stalled in 2015, in line with recommendation made in Sept 2022 by govt-backed task force on democratic reform.
Relations between opposition and ruling party continued to improve.
Former lawmaker from main opposition party Chadema, Godbless Lema, 1 March returned from two-year exile in Canada. President Suluhu Hassan 8 March pledged to restore competitive politics and review constitution in address at Chadema gathering celebrating International Women’s Day. U.S. VP Kamala Harris 29-31 March visited Tanzania, praised Hassan’s steps to strengthen democracy.
In important step toward reconciliation with opposition, govt lifted six-year ban on political rallies; U.S. embassy issued security alert over possible terror threat.
Opposition held first rally since 2016 after authorities lifted longstanding ban. President Suluhu Hassan 3 Jan lifted 2016 ban on political rallies. Main opposition party Chadema 21 Jan held first rally in six years in Mwanza city, with thousands attending. Chadema prominent leader Tundu Lissu 25 Jan returned from exile, vowed to “get back to work”. Meanwhile, independent body Media Council of Tanzania early Jan reported improvement in press freedom, with 17 “press violations” recorded in 2022 compared with 25 in 2021 and 41 in 2020.
U.S. embassy and Dutch airline warned of security risk. U.S. embassy in Tanzania 25 Jan issued security alert for Tanzania, citing terrorist threat in “locations frequented by U.S. citizens and other Westerners” in Dar es Salaam city and elsewhere. Police next day called for citizens to remain calm, insisted country was safe. Dutch Airline KLM around 27 Jan briefly halted flights to Tanzania, citing “civil unrest”. Govt next day rejected claim as “baseless, alarmist, unfounded, inconsiderate and insensitive”, urged public to “ignore KLM’s statement”. KLM 29 Jan issued apology, saying it had incorrectly described reason for barring crew stop-over in Dar es Salaam.
President Suluhu Hassan secured new term as ruling party chairperson and announced govt shake-up.
Ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi party 7-8 Dec held national congress in capital Dodoma, re-elected President Suluhu Hassan for five-year term as chairperson. Hassan 8 Dec announced she would “shake up” govt to remove “detractors” and “languid” individuals ahead of 2025 general elections.
Military launched exercises along border with Mozambique amid mounting fears that jihadist activity could spill over.
Military late Oct conducted two military exercises in southern Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma regions near border with Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado region; exact nature of exercises – whether training or actual field manoeuvres – remained unknown, but authorities in Ruvuma said objective was to prepare troops “particularly for the threat presented by terrorism” and stressed importance of securing borders. Meanwhile, suspected jihadists in Oct reportedly killed two people on Tanzanian side of Unity bridge across Ruvuma River, which forms border with Mozambique.
Authorities launched campaign to retrieve illegal weapons in bid to curb criminality and signed counter-terrorism agreement with Mozambique.
Authorities 5 Sept launched nationwide campaign to recover illegal firearms, giving citizens two months to surrender weapons or face prosecution. President Suluhu Hassan and Defence Minister Stergomena Tax 21 Sept travelled to Mozambique and signed defence and security agreements with Mozambican President Nyusi aimed at fighting terrorism and crime along shared border amid persistent jihadist violence in northern Mozambique.
Forced eviction of ethnic Maasai herders turned violent; in major policy reversal, ruling party endorsed long-held opposition calls for constitutional reform. Police 10 June reportedly used tear gas and live ammunitions against Maasai pastoralists resisting forced eviction in Loliondo division, Ngorongoro district, near major Tanzanian game parks, leaving at least 31 injured and arresting ten; police officer also killed in clashes with protesters. UN Human Rights Council experts 15 June expressed concern over incident, warned govt’s plan to forcibly evict 150,000 Maasai from ancestral lands could lead to escalating violence. Authorities 22 June announced ten-day “special operation” in Ngorongoro against Kenyan Maasai accused of crossing border to support local Maasai community. Authorities 30 June charged 25 Maasai pastoralists with murder of police officer during 10 June protest. Meanwhile, opposition party Chadema’s Sec Gen John Mnyika 9 June urged Chadema members in exile to return, assuring them that President Suluhu Hassan would guarantee their safety. In major policy shift, ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi 22 June said it “insists” on constitutional reform, after years of resisting opposition’s calls for new constitution. Suluhu Hassan 29 June appointed Major Gen Jacob John Mkunda as new chief of defence forces; Mkunda sworn in next day.
Ruling party and opposition held roundtable discussion as part of President Suluhu Hassan’s appeasement policy. Hassan 9 May held talks with main opposition party Chadema Chairman Freeman Mbowe in Dar es Salaam city for second time this year; Hassan allegedly requested meeting between Chadema and ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party to set foundations for political dialogue on Chadema’s demands, including drafting of new constitution and creation of independent electoral commission. Hassan 20 May chaired first roundtable discussion between CCM and Chadema leaders in capital Dodoma. Meanwhile, Hassan 3 May ordered review of media law to “protect journalists and open more space for the freedom of expression and the media”. Tanzania and Uganda 6 May signed defence and security agreement, committing to intelligence sharing to ease protection of East African Crude Oil Pipeline project and strengthen regional security.
In step toward reconciliation, authorities engaged in dialogue with newly released opposition leader Freeman Mbowe. Authorities 4 March released chairman of main opposition party Chadema, Freeman Mbowe, and three others from prison after prosecutors dropped terrorism-related charges levelled against them following arrest in July 2021; Mbowe hours later met with President Suluhu Hassan, both pledged to build trust. Chadema Deputy Chairman Tundu Lissu 12 March announced intention to return to Tanzania from self-imposed exile in Belgium, saying he was “positive” Suluhu Hassan would give him security assurances. Significant differences however persisted between govt and Chadema, notably over Chadema’s demand for constitutional reform: Mbowe 18 March announced Chadema would boycott cross-party national dialogue initiative scheduled for 30-31 March as agenda failed to include talks on new constitution; president’s office around 22 March said issue of new constitution would be addressed after 2025 general elections. PM Kassim Majaliwa 24 March reaffirmed commitment to anti-terrorism efforts in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province during East Africa regional security conference in Jordan.
Govt lifted former President Magufuli-era bans on four newspapers and President Suluhu Hassan met opposition leader abroad. Following resignation of parliament speaker amid feud with Suluhu Hassan in Jan, parliament 1 Feb elected Tulia Ackson as new speaker. Govt 10 Feb announced removing ban on four newspapers imposed under Magufuli’s rule. Suluhu Hassan 16 Feb met Deputy Chairman of opposition Chadema party Tundu Lissu in Belgian capital Brussels, where Lissu is in self-imposed exile, to discuss opposition’s call for new constitution and independent electoral body; Lissu also reportedly requested terrorism charges facing Chadema Chairman Freeman Mbowe be dropped. Court 18 Feb however confirmed Mbowe will stand trial. Mtwara regional police commander 16 Feb reported discovery 6, 12 and 15 Feb of bodies of three missing motorcycle taxi drivers in southern Mtwara region near Mozambican border.
Tensions ran high within ruling party as President Suluhu Hassan continued to consolidate power. After National Assembly Speaker (and late President Magufuli loyalist) Job Ndugai late-Dec criticised “excessive” foreign borrowing, several ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party leaders in following days said country’s debt is sustainable. Suluhu Hassan 4 Jan condemned politicians decrying economic policies for political interest, without naming Ngudai, who resigned 6 Jan; ruling party 20 Jan nominated National Assembly Deputy Speaker Tulia Ackson as its candidate for speaker position. Suluhu Hassan 8 Jan announced cabinet reshuffle replacing several ministers with loyalists. Newly appointed Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology Nape Nnauye mid-Jan said Suluhu Hassan had given green light to amend controversial media law that gives ministry sweeping powers to ban and punish media outlets; also said govt aims “to provide a conducive working environment for journalists” and ensure their “freedom and rights will be promoted and protected”. Suluhu Hassan 28 Jan met Mozambican president in Pemba town in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province to discuss Islamist insurgency in province neighbouring Tanzania.
President Suluhu Hassan accused late President Magufuli-era officials of undermining her leadership, and dialogue initiative failed to appease tensions with opposition. Amid claims of corruption resurgence under her leadership, Hassan 4 Dec accused “clique” in govt of seeking to taint her administration, said current ills inherited from Magufuli’s era. On country’s 60th independence anniversary, main opposition party Chadema 9 Dec made seven demands, including constitutional revision, amendment of electoral laws and release of Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe. After two-month delay, conference on state of multiparty democracy held 15-17 Dec in capital Dodoma, with President Hassan, political party leaders including opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency’s Zitto Kabwe, and police representatives in attendance; opposition parties Chadema and NCCR-Mageuzi however boycotted event, notably asking for Mbowe’s release first; participants made 80 recommendations, including amending most controversial constitutional articles, reviewing Political Parties Act and Police Force Act. Hassan 16 Dec said she was ready to lift five-year ban on political rallies. Conflict in northern Mozambique continued to spill over border. Notably, Islamist militants 10 Dec reportedly attacked Kiwengulo village, Mtwara region, killing at least four civilians; subsequent clash with military left five militants killed (see Mozambique).
Authorities launched month-long firearms recovery operation and President Suluhu Hassan discussed water security with Egyptian counterpart President Sisi. Authorities 1-30 Nov carried out countrywide operation to recover illegal firearms; previously, Home Affairs Minister George Simbachawene 30 Oct had announced those surrendering weapons voluntarily would be granted amnesty while those who failed to do so would “be hunted down and face the full force of the law”. Suluhu Hassan 10 Nov met with Sisi as part of three-day visit to Egypt; leaders discussed cooperation over water resources, notably Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (see Nile Waters).
Govt cracked down on freedom of speech in moves reminiscent of late President Magufuli’s era; meanwhile, Islamist militants launched attacks in south. NGO Reporters without Borders 7 Oct said police late Sept detained cartoonist Optatus John Fwema in Dar es Salaam city after he shared cartoon critical of President Suluhu Hassan on social media. Police 2 Oct reportedly arrested YouTube news channel Mgawe TV journalists Harold Shemsanga and Ernest Mgawe in Dar es Salaam; police 4 Oct released them. Court case against Freeman Mbowe, leader of main opposition party Chadema, further delayed as Judge Mustapha Siyani, in charge of case, 20 Oct stepped down after Suluhu Hassan 8 Oct appointed him as Principal Judge of High Court. Islamist militants active in northern Mozambique launched cross-border attacks into southern Tanzania, reportedly killing woman in Kiwengulo village 1 Oct and abducting several villagers in Tandahimba district overnight 20-21 Oct.
Authorities continued to harass opposition and suspended second newspaper in less than a month. Main opposition party Chadema 4 Sept claimed police same day detained nine party members and raided party offices in northern Musoma city to block planned symposium on constitutional change. In ongoing trial of Chadema leader Freeman Mbowe on terrorism charges, Judge Elinaza Luvanda 6 Sept recused himself amid accusations of lacking impartiality. Govt 5 Sept suspended privately owned newspaper Raia Mwema for allegedly “publishing false information and deliberate incitement” against govt. President Suluhu Hassan 12 Sept replaced four ministers and appointed new attorney general in second cabinet reshuffle since taking office in March. Hassan 15 Sept defended state of democracy under her rule amid opposition’s accusations that she is returning country to oppressive rule despite initial pledges; also suggested she would run for president in 2025. Police 2 Sept said gunman who killed several people in capital Dar es Salaam in Aug was “terrorist” who had accessed extremist content linked to Islamic State and Al-Shabaab on social media; development could illustrate mounting jihadist threat in country.
Deadly gunfire erupted in economic capital Dar es Salaam, court case against opposition leader sparked tensions, and govt suspended newspaper. Unidentified gunman 25 Aug killed three police officers and one private security guard near French embassy in Dar es Salaam before being shot dead; six other people injured in incident. Police same day said attack could be linked to jihadist violence in neighbouring Mozambique. Earlier in month, police 5-6 Aug reportedly arrested several members of main opposition party Chadema during gathering at Dar es Salaam court in support of party chairperson Freeman Mbowe, currently facing terrorism charges. Meanwhile, govt 11 Aug temporarily suspended local newspaper Uhuru, owned by ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi party; Uhuru same day had alleged that President Suluhu Hassan would not run for president in 2025, which govt denied.
Authorities arrested main opposition party leader, prompting calls for protests. Main opposition party Chadema 21 July said police and army officers overnight arrested its chairperson Freeman Mbowe alongside ten other party officials who had gathered in Mwanza city to discuss need for constitutional reforms; move follows 18 July arrest of dozens of Chadema members for holding public meeting without permission. Chadema immediately accused President Suluhu Hassan of prolonging late predecessor Magufuli’s “dictatorship”, with Chadema’s former presidential candidate Tundu Lissu, who lives in exile in Europe, calling for “nationwide protests” and “international isolation” of Hassan’s govt. Authorities 26 July charged Mbowe with terrorism-related crimes. Chadema 31 July called for protests on 5 Aug, announced it had filed legal challenge against prosecution of Mbowe, saying his legal rights were violated. Meanwhile, Hassan 16-17 July completed state visit to neighbouring Burundi at invitation of Burundian counterpart Ndayishimiye; both presidents agreed to implement infrastructure projects to facilitate movement of goods, services and people, strengthen bilateral ties and business relations.
Govt continued to take steps to curb COVID-19 pandemic and faced accusations of complacency toward Islamist insurgency in neighbouring Mozambique. Authorities early June applied for $571mn International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan to mitigate economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic; govt reportedly committed to abiding by IMF’s request to publish data on infections as pre-condition for loan. Presidency 17 June said Tanzania had requested COVID-19 vaccines from World Health Organization’s vaccine-sharing program COVAX. Ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi 15 June dismissed opposition and civil society’s renewed calls for constitutional reform to allow formation of independent electoral commission, citing competing priorities. Opposition party Chadema Vice Chairman Tundu Lissu, who has been living in exile in Belgium since 2020, 26 June said he had requested meeting with President Suluhu Hassan and was willing to return to Tanzania. Amid continued violence in neighbouring Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province at border with Tanzania, UN refugee agency 11 June said Tanzania had forcibly returned 9,600 displaced persons to Cabo Delgado since Jan, including 900 between 7 and 9 June (see also Mozambique).
President Suluhu Hassan continued to distance herself from predecessor Magufuli’s policies and took steps to improve relations with neighbours. In departure from COVID-19 scepticism during late President Mafuguli’s era, Hassan 7 Mayurged Tanzanians to wear masks to prevent spread of virus. Committee of experts established in April to advise govt on measures to curb pandemic 17 May presented 19 recommendations, notably calling on govt to release data on COVID-19 cases and join World Health Organization’s COVAX vaccine-sharing program. Hassan throughout month reshuffled key positions in effort to revamp public service, notably appointing new directors of public prosecutions and police. Hassan took steps to improve relationship with neighbours. Notably, Hassan 4-5 May visited Kenya, signed $1bn gas pipeline deal with counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta and promised tax and business reformsto make it easier for Kenyan investors to operate in Tanzania.
Newly-inaugurated President Suluhu Hassan distanced herself from predecessor Magufuli’s policies, signalling possible willingness to open up political space going forward. In stark departure from late President Magufuli, Hassan 6 April said it was “not proper to ignore” COVID-19 and vowed to establish task force to advise govt on measures to curb pandemic. After Hassan 6 April said media banned under Magufuli should be allowed to operate, govt next day said only online television channels would benefit from measure. Hassan took steps to improve relationship and trade with regional partners, notably hosting Kenyan delegation in largest city Dar es Salaam 10 April and committing to strengthening relationship with neighbouring country. In first visit abroad since taking office, Hassan next day travelled to Uganda, signed agreements with President Museveni paving way for construction of pipeline between two countries. Meanwhile, chairperson of main opposition Chadema party Freeman Mbowe 11 April called on Hassan and govt to revise constitution to limit presidential terms and powers, saying current constitution gives “someone the chance to be dictator or king”. Chadema’s vice chairperson and 2020 presidential candidate Tundu Lissu – who fled country after 2020 general elections – 24 April listed six conditions for his return, including assurances from govt on his safety and pardoning of political prisoners.
Following President Magufuli’s death, VP Samia Suluhu Hassan sworn in as new president until 2025. Authorities 17 March said Magufuli had died of heart attack. Announcement followed weeks of speculation over Magufuli’s health since his last public appearance in late Feb. Notably, opposition leader Tundu Lissu 11 March claimed Magufuli was receiving COVID-19 treatment abroad; govt next day denied claim, insisting Magufuli was “around, healthy, working hard”, and authorities 12-15 March arrested at least four people for allegedly spreading false information about Magufuli’s health. VP Samia Suluhu Hassan 19 March sworn in as president – to serve remainder of Magufuli’s term until 2025. MPs 30 March approved Finance and Planning Minister Philip Mpango as new VP; Mpango sworn in next day. Stampede 21 March left at least 45 killed as tens of thousands attempted to enter capital Dar es Salaam’s Uhuru stadium to view Magufuli’s body. Hassan 28 March suspended Tanzania Ports Authority Director General Deusdedit Kakoko over corruption allegations; authorities next day arrested Kakoko in Morogoro city in east. Meanwhile, U.S. State Department 11 March sanctioned Tanzanian national Abu Yasir Hassan for allegedly leading Islamist insurgency in neighbouring Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province (see Mozambique).
President Magufuli admitted prevalence of COVID-19 in country amid rise in high-profile cases. Chief State Secretary John Kijazi and semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago’s first VP Seif Sharif Hamad mid-Feb died of COVID-19; Hamad early Feb had become first person in Tanzania to publicly reveal COVID-19 infection since Magufuli declared country coronavirus-free in April 2020. At Kijazi’s funeral, Magufuli 19 Feb acknowledged spread of “respiratory disease”. Head of World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus 20 Feb urged govt to take “robust action” to curb spread of COVID-19; Magufuli next day called on citizens to take precautions and wear face masks. Meanwhile, police 15 Feb arrested Moravian Church Bishop Emmaus Mwamakula, a vocal govt critic, at his home in economic capital Dar es Salaam and next day released him on bail; move comes after Mwamakula in Jan called for demonstrations on 16 Feb as part of campaign for constitutional reform and formation of independent electoral commission. Mwamakula released 16 Feb but demonstrations did not take place. Ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s Publicity Secretary Humphrey Polepole 10 Feb told parliament that Magufuli did not intend to run for third term in 2025; opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency recently accused ruling party MPs of toying with idea of extending presidential tenure beyond constitutional two-term limit.
Opposition continued to question legitimacy of 28 Oct 2020 general elections. Opposition party Chadema’s vice-chair and 2020 presidential candidate Tundu Lissu 9 Jan said Chadema had submitted evidence to International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor of election-related incidents committed against opposition members, said incidents could qualify as crimes against humanity. Lissu 13 Jan accused African Union of failing to condemn violence and crackdown on opposition during election period, also regretted that East African Community and Southern Africa regional bloc called elections free and fair despite widespread irregularities. Outgoing U.S. Sec State Pompeo 19 Jan announced visa restrictions on Tanzanian officials for “undermining the democratic process and human rights” in election period; Lissu same day welcomed decision. Meanwhile, Attorney General Adelardus Kilangi early Jan said country would not fully rejoin African Court of Human and People’s Rights (AFCHPR) until African court respected country’s constitution; remark comes after Tanzania’s Nov 2020 withdrawal from Article 34(6) of AFCHPR’s protocol, which allows individuals and NGOs to file cases against govt at African court. Amid ongoing cross-border attacks by Mozambique-based Islamist insurgents in Tanzania, President Magufuli and Mozambican counterpart Nyusi 11 Jan met in Chato town in Geita region, agreed to resume joint commission on defence and security (see Mozambique). Magufuli 25 Jan met with Ethiopian counterpart Sahle-Work in Chato, same day ordered release of over 1,700 Ethiopian migrants imprisoned for entering Tanzania illegally.
Opposition party Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT) formed unity govt with ruling party on semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago. President Magufuli, who was re-elected in late Oct, 5 Dec unveiled cabinet consisting of 23 ministers and 23 deputy ministers. On semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago, ACT 6 Dec agreed to form unity govt with ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party; Zanzibar’s President Hussein Mwinyi same day appointed ACT’s national chairman Seif Sharif Hamad as Zanzibar’s first VP; Hamad sworn in 8 Dec. ACT and other opposition party Civic United Front 20 Dec accused police of killing ACT official and wounding several other people previous day during security operation in Kibutuka village, Lindi region in south; regional police commander 21 Dec denied allegations. VP Samia Suluhu 14 Dec attended Southern Africa regional bloc SADC Defence and Security Troika in Mozambique’s capital Maputo to discuss Islamist insurgency in neighbouring country; extraordinary summit of SADC heads of state and govt scheduled for Jan (see Mozambique).
Several opposition figures sought refuge abroad amid post-election crackdown. Hours before planned opposition protests against President Magufuli’s late-Oct re-election, authorities 2 Nov arrested eight opposition leaders, including Chadema party presidential candidate Tundu Lissu, Chadema chair Freeman Mbowe, and former MP Godbless Lema in capital Dar es Salaam; all eight released without charges later same day. Magufuli 5 Nov was sworn in for second term. Lissu 7 Nov said he had found refuge in German embassy in Dar es Salaam 2 Nov after being briefly detained by police and receiving death threats, and 10 Nov left Tanzania for Belgium. Lema 8 Nov fled to neighbouring Kenya, where he was granted asylum next day after being briefly detained. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet 10 Nov urged govt to respect rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and called for investigation into late-Oct killing by suspected police officers of at least ten people on semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago. International Criminal Court 14 Nov confirmed receipt of two formal letters from opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency party and independent human rights activist Maria Sarungi Tsehai, requesting inquiry into alleged human rights violations by govt in recent weeks. Lissu 26 Nov urged international community to impose sanctions on Magufuli’s administration. Tanzania and Mozambique police chiefs 20 Nov agreed to launch joint operations against Islamist insurgents in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province (see Mozambique), after violence spilled over into Tanzania in Oct.
Election-related violence flared amid clampdown on opposition and allegations of widespread election fraud. Ahead of 28 Oct general elections, opposition party Chadema few days before vote said local ruling party officials opened fire at campaign rally in Nyamongo town in north east, killing two. On semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago, opposition party Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT) 27 Oct said police previous night shot at least nine people dead as they tried to stop soldiers suspected of distributing pre-marked ballots to polling stations; police same day reportedly used tear gas on citizens who defied order to remain at home and briefly detained ACT presidential candidate in Zanzibar Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad. Widespread disruption of internet and text-messaging services reported across country starting 27 Oct. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet same day expressed concern at “worrying reports of intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrests and physical attacks against political opponents, journalists, women human rights defenders and other activists”. On day of vote, Chadema presidential candidate Tundu Lissu denounced “shameless election fraud” and urged for “mass democratic action.” Seif Sharif Hamad arrested again 29 Oct in Zanzibar’s Mjini Magharibi Region after he called for protests. Electoral commission 30 Oct announced preliminary results, giving President Magufuli as winner of presidential election with 84% of votes, and ruling party winner of 253 parliamentary seats out of 261 announced so far. Group of regional experts Tanzania Elections Watch same day said “vote marked significant backsliding in Tanzania’s democratic credentials.” Earlier in month, electoral commission 2 Oct suspended Lissu’s campaign for seven days for allegedly inciting violence in run-up to vote by “using offensive words which are against election ethics”. Police 6 Oct reportedly arrested unspecified number of Chadema supporters in Coast region near capital Dar es Salaam on allegations of unauthorised campaigning. Meanwhile, Islamic State (ISIS)-affiliated combatants from neighbouring Mozambique 14 Oct reportedly killed at least 22, including three security force members, in Kitaya village, Mtwara region; attack is first claimed by ISIS in Tanzania (see also Mozambique). ISIS 30 Oct claimed attacks on three villages in Michenjele county in past few days.
Crackdown on dissent continued ahead of general elections scheduled for 28 Oct. NGO Human Rights Watch 2 Sept voiced concern over rising “repression of opposition parties, nongovernmental organizations, and the media” in lead-up to polls, said security forces arrested at least 17 opposition party members and govt critics since mid-June. Ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi 14 Sept said President Magufuli would not amend constitution to seek third term in 2025 if re-elected in Oct. Police 15 Sept detained presidential hopeful Bernard Membe’s assistant at economic capital Dar es Salaam airport over money laundering allegations, released him on bail 21 Sept. Opposition parties Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT) and Chadema 20 Sept accused electoral commission of “widespread irregularities” after latter in Aug disqualified several of their candidates for parliamentary and local council elections. ACT leader Zitto Kabwe 22 Sept said ACT had reached loose cooperation agreement with Chadema ahead of vote; authorities immediately warned any form of collaboration would be illegal at this stage of election campaign. Police 25 Sept detained ACT official Dotto Rangimoto over allegations he breached Cybercrime Act; same day arrested two other ACT officials for allegedly impeding Rangimoto’s arrest. Electoral commission 27 Sept said Chadema presidential candidate Tundu Lissu would be required to appear before commission’s ethics committee after he accused electoral body of having met with Magufuli to rig elections. Police 28 Sept reportedly fired tear gas at Lissu’s convoy in Nyamongo area in north. Authorities 16 Sept lifted ban on Kenyan airlines after Kenya revoked COVID-19 mandatory quarantine for individuals entering country from Tanzania, ending two-month standoff.
Authorities continued to restrict press freedom and civil rights and harass opposition ahead of general elections scheduled for Oct. Authorities 10 Aug banned local media from publishing or broadcasting foreign outlets’ contents without govt permission, prompting criticism from press freedom organisations. Prominent rights organisation Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) 18 Aug suspended its operations, citing incessant intimidation and meddling in its activities by security forces, after police previous day reportedly briefly detained its national coordinator and THRDC’s bank accounts were reportedly frozen mid-Aug after organisation failed to submit to authorities contracts signed with foreign donors. National anti-corruption body 11 Aug questioned main opposition party Chadema chairperson Freeman Mbowe over alleged misuse of party funds. After Chadema 4 Aug nominated vice-chairperson and former MP Tundu Lissu as party’s presidential candidate, unidentified assailants 13 Aug set Chadema’s offices on fire in Arusha city in north ahead of Lissu’s arrival. Chadema and opposition party Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT) 28 Aug alleged widespread irregularities and “unfair” disqualifications in enrolment of their candidates for parliamentary and local council elections and asked electoral commission to reinstate them.
Authorities continued crackdown on civil society ahead of general elections scheduled for Oct. Amid absence since late April of govt-issued figures on spread of COVID-19, authorities 6 July suspended media Kwanza Online TV for eleven months for allegedly publishing misleading content, after it relayed health alert from U.S. embassy warning of coronavirus epidemic’s “exponential growth” across Tanzania 1 July. Three UN experts 22 July urged govt to end “crackdown” on civic space. Former opposition MP Tundu Lissu, living in Belgium since he was shot in capital Dodoma in 2017, 27 July returned to Tanzania to run for president in upcoming poll. Ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi next day endorsed incumbent President Magufuli as presidential candidate. Electoral commission 21 July said presidential and parliamentary elections would be held 28 Oct. African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights 15 July directed Tanzania to allow courts to hear challenges to presidential election results.
Authorities continued to restrict civil and political rights and harass opposition ahead of general elections, while President Magufuli further downplayed risk posed by COVID-19. Unidentified assailants 8 June assaulted chairman of main opposition party Chadema Freeman Mbowe in capital Dodoma, reportedly breaking his leg; Chadema immediately alleged attack was politically motivated. Parliament 10 June passed bill granting leaders of executive, legislative, and judiciary immunity from prosecution for any actions undertaken while in office, also restricting to those “affected personally” eligibility for challenging laws that violate constitution’s bill of rights, in effect banning public interest litigation by preventing rights groups to file cases on behalf of victims; move sparked outcry from opposition and coalition of over 200 civil society organisations, who said bill violated constitutional rights. Magufuli 16 June dissolved Parliament as required by constitution ahead of general elections scheduled for Oct, next day said he would seek re-election. Police 23 June arrested leader of opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency (ATC) Zitto Kabwe and at least seven other ATC members for holding “unlawful assembly” in Kilwa district in south; court next day released Kabwe and all others on bail. Amid absence of official figures on spread of COVID-19 in country since April, universities and high schools reopened 1 June, and schools 29 June. Tanzania and Kenya 17 June reached agreement on implementation of COVID-19 testing for cargo drivers after drivers from both countries remained stranded at Namanga border crossing for weeks.
President Magufuli continued to downplay risk posed by COVID-19 and silenced critics of govt’s response. Main opposition party Chadema 1 May instructed its MPs to boycott parliamentary sessions and self-quarantine for at least two weeks, called on govt to suspend parliament, after two MPs and one minister died from undisclosed illnesses late April; 11 May expelled four of its MPs who continued to attend parliament. After Magufuli 3 May cast doubt on credibility of national health laboratory, health minister next day dismissed laboratory’s head and formed special committee to investigate handling of COVID-19 samples. Magufuli 16 May dismissed Deputy Health Minister Faustine Ndugulile, reportedly after he criticised govt-issued COVID-19 advice. Despite reports by U.S. embassy of epidemic’s “exponential growth” across Tanzania, govt 18 May lifted suspension of international commercial flights and quarantine requirements for those arriving into country; Magufuli 21 May ordered high schools and universities to reopen 1 June. Zambia 10 May closed its border with Tanzania following surge of COVID-19 cases in border areas, 15 May partially re-opened border for cargo. Court 29 May found leader of opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency Zitto Kabwe guilty of sedition, after he alleged some 100 people had died in clashes between herders and police in Kigoma in 2018; court set Kabwe free but effectively banned him from making public statements for one year; Kabwe’s party same day denounced “censorship” ahead of general elections planned for Oct, said they would appeal judgement. Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe and seven party figures 18 May lodged appeal with High Court against 10 March ruling that found them guilty on several counts, including inciting sedition.
President Magufuli continued to resist opposition calls to adopt measures to curb spread of COVID-19. Magufuli 22 April ruled out lockdown of economic capital Dar es Salaam. Opposition figure Zitto Kabwe 23 April warned against giving false hopes after Magufuli 16 April called for three days of prayer to quell “satanic” virus. Main opposition party Chadema’s leader Freeman Mbowe 29 April urged govt to take action against COVID-19, saying Magufuli was in “state of denial”. Parliament speaker 29 April suspended parliamentary sessions after two MPs died of suspected COVID-19 infection.
Court in former capital Dar es Salaam 10 March sentenced eight senior figures of main opposition party Chadema, including its chairman Freeman Mbowe and former Chadema sec gen, now ruling party member Vincent Mashinji, to pay $13,000 fines or serve five-month jail terms, after finding them guilty on several accounts including inciting sedition. Authorities 13 March released Mbowe and seven others after Chadema paid fines. PM Majaliwa 17 March banned public gatherings and political rallies for 30 days in attempt to curb spread of COVID-19. Defence and security officials 11 March met with counterparts from Burundi, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda in Goma, DRC, to assess information exchange mechanisms to help stabilise eastern Congo.
Authorities 24 Feb released investigative journalist Erick Kabendera – arrested in July 2019 and charged in Aug with money laundering, tax evasion and organised crime – after he agreed to plead guilty and pay $118,000 fine.
Govt withdrew from African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights 2 Dec; decision will prevent individuals and NGOs filing rights cases directly against govt. NGO Human Rights Watch 12 Dec reported that authorities were putting increasing pressure on Burundian refugees to leave country, including by intimidation; Home Affairs minister 3 Dec denied govt was forcibly expelling refugees. Police 20 Dec arrested prominent human rights lawyer Tito Magoti; authorities 24 Dec charged him with economic crimes including non-bailable offence of money laundering.
Ruling party won landslide victory in local elections which opposition boycotted citing govt manipulation of process, and suspected Islamist militants killed six people near Mozambican border. Ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi won 99% of seats in 24 Nov local elections, which leading opposition party Chadema boycotted 7 Nov citing govt intimidation and manipulation of electoral process. UK and U.S. 27 Nov questioned credibility of election results. Unidentified gunmen 12 Nov killed six farmers in ambush near Mozambican border in south; police believe assailants entered Tanzania from Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique where Islamist militants have carried out similar attacks. Authorities 20 Nov postponed trial of investigative journalist Erick Kabendera for eighth time.
Govt and Burundi began to repatriate Burundian refugees from Tanzania in spite of opposition from rights groups contending that conditions not safe for their return; some 600 refugees arrived in Gisuru in Burundi’s Ruyigi province 3 Oct. President Magufuli 11 Oct told Burundian refugees to return home and not to expect Tanzanian citizenship. Tanzania and Burundi 12 Oct signed agreement allowing their police forces to conduct cross-border operations, including in refugee camps in Tanzania. Unidentified assailants 19 Oct kidnapped four Burundian refugees from Nduta camp; camp residents blamed Burundian police.
Govt maintained crackdown on press freedom. Authorities 12 Sept postponed for fourth time trial of investigative journalist Erick Kabendera, who could face five years in jail without trial as bail not permitted in cases related to economic crimes; national media council said case had been “politically handled”. NGO Amnesty International 6 Sept criticised Aug agreement between Tanzania and Burundi to repatriate Burundian refugees with or without their consent, despite UN Refugee Agency claims that political environment in Burundi is not conducive for returns.
Authorities continued to use judicial process to silence critical voices. Following arrest of prominent investigative journalist Erick Kabendera late July on pretext of investigating his Tanzanian citizenship, court 5 Aug charged him with money laundering, tax evasion and organised crime; court 30 Aug adjourned his trial until 12 Sept. Police 8 Aug arrested journalist for allegedly cyberbullying his wife, released him on bail next day; 22 Aug jailed another journalist for report on police abuse of prisoners, which authorities deemed false, and released him on bail two days later; 24 Aug arrested journalist reporting on meeting of opposition party Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT) and three ACT members, two days later released all four on bail. U.S. and UK 9 Aug jointly called on govt to respect press freedom. Govt 25 Aug signed agreement with Burundi to start repatriating in Oct some 200,000 Burundian refugees from Tanzania. UN refugee agency 28 Aug described conditions in Burundi as unfavourable for return.
Abduction of well-known opposition activist fuelled concerns for shrinking political space. Unidentified gunmen 4 May abducted Mdude Nyagali, high-profile member of main opposition party Chadema; Chadema 5 May accused security forces of kidnap, authorities dismissed allegation. Villagers 8 May found Mdude Nyagali in bush in Mbeya region in south west, he was unconscious and showing signs of torture. In capital Dodoma, authorities early May detained for one night Chadema MP Paschal Haonga after he reported Nyagali’s abduction. Group of 38 international NGOs and regional organisations 13 May denounced deterioration of human rights in early 2019, called for action at forthcoming UN Human Rights Council 24 June-12 July.
Parliament 29 Jan voted for amendment of law regulating political parties, granting new powers to govt-appointed registrar including enabling him to de-register parties and impose jail sentences of up to one year for unauthorised civic activities. Opposition leaders said new legislation prevented future challenges to President Magufuli and ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). Following 21 Feb arrest of Joseph Mbilinyi, leader of main opposition party Chadema, authorities 23 Feb detained MP Halima Mdee; authorities released both opposition members one day after their arrests. Chadema party accused govt of crackdown against critics.
After European Parliament’s 12 Dec resolution against govt’s democratic backsliding and continued crackdown on opposition figures, human rights defenders and gay people, EU late Dec announced freeze of €88mn annual aid to Tanzania. Decision followed World Bank’s suspension in Nov of €265mn loan for girls’ education after govt banned pregnant girls from attending school and from continuing education after they gave birth.
As part of govt’s “continuous operation” in Mtwara region in south east bordering Mozambique, police late Oct said it had arrested 104 alleged Islamist militants, whom it claims were planning to set up bases in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, site of Islamist insurgency since Oct 2017; Mozambique police 23 Oct said number arrested had risen to 132.
Govt 25 April deployed armed police in major towns and authorities reportedly made arrests ahead of planned anti-govt protests called for following day by U.S.-based activist; no large demonstrations reported 26 April.
Police 21 March said they had arrested two people for comments on social media criticising govt repression and urging others to participate in anti-govt protests called for 26 April. Police 27 March arrested Freeman Mbowe, head of main opposition party Chadema, along with five other party members on several charges, including inciting hatred and rebellion at 16 Feb protest during which police killed bystander.
Amid rising political repression, unidentified attackers killed two opposition politicians. Unidentified assailants abducted official of main opposition party Chadema and party supporter in Dar es Salaam on coast 12 Feb; official found dead 14 Feb and kidnappers released party supporter with injuries. Some 100 civil society groups 21 Feb signed statement alleging “unprecedented” rights abuses, including “attacks, torture and forced disappearances” of activists, journalists and politicians. Unidentified attackers killed with machetes Chadema councillor at his home in Morogoro, about 200km west of Dar es Salaam 22 Feb; Chadema deputy secretary general described killing as “political assassination” part of assault on opposition “by the government … and the police”. Court 26 Feb sentenced two Chadema politicians to five months in prison for criticising President Magufuli.
Following attacks in recent months by unidentified gunmen including against political leaders and security forces in Pwani region at coast, new attacks occurred there during month. Unidentified gunmen shot dead civilian in Rufiji district 6 June day before visit by new police chief, and 8 June abducted chairman of Ikwiriri Kati village, Rufiji district and two other civilians in Nyamisati village, Kibiti district.
Following series of unclaimed killings of police and officials of ruling party Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) in Pwani region at coast in recent months, unidentified attackers killed former CCM official in Nyambunda 14 May and former CCM village leader in Muyui 18 May. Opposition 16 May demanded govt deploy army in Mkuranga, Kibiti and Rufiji districts in Pwani region to improve security.
Police 5 Jan shot dead 2 anti-govt protestors demanding release of leading Chadema opposition figures arrested same day during unauthorised rally in Arusha. Chadema party claims fraud in Oct 2010 presidential elections, corruption in govt.
Ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party won landslide victory in 14 December parliamentary elections, taking 206 of 232 seats. CCM presidential candidate Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete won 80% of vote, replacing President Mkapa who stepped down after 2 terms as required by constitution. AU and SADC observers said polls “free and fair”, praised high voter turnout. But election-related violence on Zanzibar continued: 46 arrested after opposition supporters clashed with police.