Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli’s unprecedented drive to anti-corruption, austerity and alleged despotism are some defining aspects of his rule thus far.
According to his critics, he’s also authoritarian and undemocratic and he is choking democracy in the East African nation.
While low-income Tanzanians singing praises of Dr. Magufuli’s corruption-fighting appetite and eye-popping waste cutting measures. In Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, many hold his political party solely responsible for the political quagmire that has gripped the island 25-miles off the Swahili Coast since last elections 2015.
Zanzibar’s electoral commission annulled election results in Zanzibar Oct last year citing “violations of electoral law” and ordered a re-run of the vote. But national and International political observers say the elections were fair and transparent and opposition probably had won it.
President Magufuli has ever since remain silence on finding the viable solution for the Zanzibar stalemate. Frustrating Americans and other stakeholders in the region.
As the result, Tanzania will not be receiving an envisioned $472 million in funding for electricity projects from Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) .
The US suspension-of-aid notification cites “arrests made during the elections” in Zanzibar as an indication of the Tanzania government having “engaged in a pattern of actions inconsistent with MCC’s eligibility criteria.”
“MCC’s model has a partner country’s commitment to democracy and free and fair elections at its core,” the directors’ statement said.
Dr. Magufuli who is from Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), which has dominated the politics of Tanzania since the independence of Tanganyika in 1962, won Tanzania’s hotly contested election last year.
Within his first 100 days in the office of the East African nation, the former Chemistry teacher had sacked corrupt ‘Chai'(slang: ‘bribe’) asking officials, banned foreign travel for government officials and canceled the extravagant Independence Day celebrations urging Tanzanians to do a nationwide clean up instead.
“It is so shameful that we are spending huge amounts of money to celebrate 54 years of independence when our people are dying of cholera,” Magufuli who was given nickname ‘Bulldozer’ when he was Minister of Works had said.
The president has mended fences with neighbours, too and conducted the first ever meeting of the East African heads of states in Swahili.
However, he has shown thuggish tendency of ignoring democratic institutions and principals.
Democracy in Shreds
According to Deutsche Welle, earlier this year, Magufuli’s government stopped the live broadcast of parliamentary proceedings stating the high cost of broadcasting Bunge sessions on TV. Political rallies and opposition party meetings have been banned until 2020 and freedom of speech threatened.
Isaac Habakkuk Emily, a social media user, was arrested earlier this year for insulting the president in a post on Facebook that has since been deleted. He was sentenced to 3 years in jail or a fine of 7 million Tanzanian shillings equivalent to $3,000 or 2,694 euros. He was released after a plea by his attorney that allowed him to pay the fine in installments. He is expected to pay 3 million shillings by June 8, 2016, and the remaining amount by August 8, 2016.
Another social media user, Leonard Mulokozi Kyaruzi, was arrested for a message he sent onWhatsApp, a free and encrypted messaging platform that is quite popular in Tanzania.
“We cannot stop corruption at the expense of democracy; we cannot restore the growth of our nation at the expense of human rights; at the expense of good governance. What we are asking from him is good governance, democracy, and human rights,” Peter Msigwa, Tanzania’s main opposition Chadema Member of Parliament said.
In responding to his critics, President Magufuli has said he would not allow anyone to stand in his way of delivering what he pledged to Tanzanians.
- VARIOUS SOURCES