Political situation Hoping for more democracy and rule of law
During President John Magufuli’s time in office (2015 to 2021), however, democracy and human rights in Tanzania underwent a marked deterioration. Government action became increasingly arbitrary, liberties like freedom of information, of opinion and of the press, and the freedom of assembly and association were restricted. Human rights organisations accused the government of issuing threats, making arbitrary arrests, organising political murders and arranging for the “disappearance” of opposition politicians, journalists and staff working at non-governmental organisations. The decision taken by the government to exclude pregnant girls from lessons also met with international criticism.
Following the sudden death of President Magufuli in March 2021, Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan was appointed as Tanzania’s new head of state. Since then, the political climate has improved. The President is following an approach of more openness, dialogue and international cooperation. She has eased restrictions on the media and social networks, and has had journalists and human rights activists released from prison.
However, there are still laws in force that curb freedom of opinion, freedom of the press and the rights of the opposition. In the summer of 2021, opposition politicians were once again arrested. It remains to be seen whether the hopes of more political participation and more rule of law will be fulfilled.
In Zanzibar, President Hussein Ali Mwinyi has been pursuing a policy of balance and conciliation since November 2020, and has been able to reduce political tensions. He heads a government that includes the strongest opposition party. Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous territory within the union state of Tanzania and has its own government, parliament and president.
Moving away from a path of COVID scepticism
President Hassan has also initiated an about-turn in her country’s COVID policy. Whereas Magufuli rejected protective measures and vaccinations, and refused to engage in international cooperation, Samia Suluhu Hassan is pursuing a consistent COVID prevention policy, working in cooperation with the international community. Since the summer of 2021, the country has been reporting infection data to the World Health Organization (WHO) and in August 2021 a national vaccination campaign was launched.
Improving infrastructure, fighting corruption
In order to boost the country’s development, the Government of Tanzania is putting an emphasis on improving public services (infrastructure, health, education, water supply), and on creating jobs through increased industrialisation. Like her predecessor in office, President Hassan also wants to increase domestic public revenue and fight corruption. On the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International, Tanzania ranks 87th out of the total of 180 countries rated (2015: 117th out of 168).
As at: 10/03/2022