Tanzania: Tanzania after Nyerere

Tanzania after Nyerere

By the 1980s, it was clear that the economic policies set out by the Arusha Declaration had failed. The economy continued to deteriorate as alternating floods and droughts reduced agricultural production and exports. After Nyerere resigned as promised in 1985, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, president of Zanzibar, became head of the one-party government. He began an economic recovery program involving cuts in government spending, decontrol of prices, and encouragement of foreign investment; modest growth resumed. In 1992 the constitution was amended to allow opposition parties.

The 1995 multiparty elections, which were regarded by international observers as seriously flawed, were won by Benjamin William Mkapa, candidate of the ruling CCM. In the 1990s Tanzania was overwhelmed by refugees from the war in neighboring Burundi; by the end of the decade some 300,000 were in Tanzania, and the number subsequently grew. Tanzania began repatriating the refugees in 2002, and closed the last camp in 2009. More than 200,000 Burundian refugees who fled to Tanzania in 1972 also remained prior to 2009; many of these accepted an offer of Tanzania citizenship. Mkapa, who continued to pursue economic reforms, was reelected in 2000, but there were blatant irregularities in the vote in Zanzibar, where the opposition party, which favors greater independence for the island, had been expected to do well.

In 2005 the CCM candidate for president, Jakaya Kikwete won the election with 80% of the vote, and the CCM won more than 90% of the seats in parliament, but the voting in Zanzibar was again marred by violence and irregularities. A corruption investigation implicated the prime minister, Edward Lowassa, and two other cabinet members in 2008, leading them to resign in February; Kikwete subsequently re-formed the cabinet. The president was reelected in 2010 with more than 60% of the vote, while on Zanzibar the election was largely peaceful and the CCM candidate narrowly won the island's presidency. The CCM also won three quarters of the seats in parliament.

In the Oct., 2015, elections, the CCM candidate, John Magufuli, was elected president with 58% of the vote. The opposition had united for the first time around a single presidential candidate, former prime minister Lowassa, and the opposition called for a recount. The CCM also won a majority of the legislative seats, but it was smaller than in 2010. On Zanzibar, the election was annulled after the voting; the election commission there said there had been gross violations. The Zanzibari vote was nonetheless counted in the national presidential tally. The opposition accused the Zanzibari CCM of attempt to steal an election it had lost by rerunning it and boycotted the revote in 2016.

As president, Magufuli has campaigned to reduce wasteful government spending and corruption, but he also has banned opposition rallies and suppressed public and media criticism of his government. In the Nov., 2019, local elections, more than half the opposition candidates were disqualified from running and major opposition parties then boycotted the polls, which were won nearly exclusively by CCM candidates. The national elections in Oct., 2020, were again marked by outsized ruling party victories, with Magufuli winning 84% of the vote, the CCM candidate for Zanzibar's presidency winning 76%, and the CCM winning nearly all of the national legislative seats, including many in opposition strongholds. However, Magufuli's term was cut short by his death in March 2021, rumored to be from complications of COVID, but announced as heart failure. His vice president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, and became the country’s first female president; under Tanzania’s constitution, she will serve the rest of his five-year term.

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