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Tanzania: ‘Dark days ahead’ says opposition as Magufuli sworn in for second term

By Abdul Halim, in Dar es Salaam
Posted on Thursday, 5 November 2020 17:16

Tanzania Election
Tanzanian president President John Magufuli waves to Tanzanians as he arrives for his swearing in ceremony in Dodoma, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (AP Photo)

President John Magufuli was inaugurated on Thursday as president of the United Republic of Tanzania for a second and final term just days after a chaotic election known in the history of the east African nation. To this new chapter, the opposition say dark days are to come.

Magufuli won his reelection with about 84% of total valid votes against his main challenger Tundu Lissu who received 13% of total valid votes.

Second term begins

In his inauguration speech at Jamhuri Stadium on Thursday in the administrative capital Dodoma, President Magufuli thanked Tanzanians for giving him another term, adding: “Elections have passed now it’s time to work, my administration will continue the fight against corruption, creating employment opportunities as well as continued work on building major projects.”

Meanwhile, the head of state appealed to all political spectrum to work together to improve Tanzania.

“My government will also continue to protect national resources, animals, poverty and other challenges facing Tanzanians,” he quoted.

The inauguration event was attended by several African leaders including Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, Comoros’s President Azali Assoumani and Burundi’s Prime Minister Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni.

READ MORE Tanzania elections 2020: ‘The country will go the way of Zimbabawe’ – Tundu Lissu

Speaking at the ceremony, Uganda’s Museveni said it’s high time for east African nations to promote trade among the member states.

“After the independence most African leaders failed to build their nation because of selfishness, but Tanzania under Mwalimu Nyerere played crucial role for [the] reunification of Africa. It’s time now to focus on economic aspects,” said Museveni, who has been head of Uganda since January 1986.

Election marred by violence and violations

Magufuli won a second term in an election that was marred by violence, detentions of opposition candidates, media crackdown, intimidation of political leaders by security organs, and in many places across the country opposition candidates were disqualified from participating in the general polls.

READ MORE Tanzania elections 2020: John Magufuli in bitter race against Tundu Lissu

These actions prompted international observers and diplomatic figures in Tanzania, mainly the US, UK, Norway and Canada, to declare that Magufuli’s reelection came through irregularities and lacked credibility.

Opposition arrested and charged

Ahead of Magufuli’s inauguration ceremony, several members from the main opposition parties of CHADEMA and ACT Wazalendo were briefly arrested and detained and later released without any charges.

Those arrested included: Freeman Mbowe, CHADEMA’s Chairperson, Godbless Lema and Boniface Jacob who contested the elections in Arusha Town and Ubungo, and demanded a rerun. Other politicians on the list also included Zitto Kabwe, leader of AC Wazalendo party and Tundu Lissu, CHADEMA’s presidential candidate.

READ MORE Tanzania: Candidate Tundu Lissu is suspended just ahead of polls

Later on, Dar es Salaam police Chief Lazaro Mambosasa said they would be charged for acts of terrorism and endangering national security; claims the opposition denies.

Contesting Magufuli’s reelection

Zitto Kabwe denounced the reelection of Magufuli, saying: “This is not an election it’s just selection. Mr. Magufuli knows that we will not accept his government and we must do everything we can to protect our country from totalitarian rule,” Kabwe said after losing his parliamentary post at Kigoma town constituency.

Many Tanzanians are concerned about the future of Tanzania under the continued leadership of Magufuli.

In semi-autonomous Zanzibar, opposition members there say that more than ten people in Pemba and Unguja Islands were murdered by security forces while some of its leaders of including its deputy secretary Nassor Ahmed Mazrui who remain in detention. Its presidential candidate Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad was also arrested and questioned several times during elections.

 

Change in store for Tanzania?

Many Tanzanians are concerned about the future of Tanzania under the continued leadership of Magufuli.

“Political parties will experience difficult conditions, rights groups and media will continue to get harsh treatment just like it was in his first five years in office,” Erick Emmanuel, a resident of Dar es Salaam, tells The Africa Report. 

Professor Ibrahim Lipumba, the chairperson of Civic United Front (CUF) says his party will not participate in any elections under the current constitution: “It high time now for all political parties, civil rights organisations, the media and all well-wishers to join our hands. Our country needs a new constitution that will reduce [the] powers of  [the] president. Under the current environment we cannot expects anything new during electoral process.“

Under the 1977 Tanzania constitution, a president who is also a ruling party chairman, and head of state and government, exercises powers such as appointing electoral body officials, ministers, armed service top officials, judges. In short nearly all the top officials in civil service are appointed by the president.

But change is unlikely to happen because the political system of Tanzania is nearly all controlled by ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi. Even parliament, which plays a critical role in this process,  is controlled by the ruling party of more than 90%.

During his first tenure President Magufuli presided over an anti-corruption drive that led to the expulsion of over 10,000 ‘ghost worker’ in the public sector, concentrated efforts on his mega-projects, including:

  • reviving the national carrier Air Tanzania
  • building a gauge railway link from the commercial capital Dar es Salaam to Mwanza
  • completing the Rufiji hydropower project

He also announced that any pregnant student, adolescent mother, or married girl, would be banned from continuing their studies at school, a move that was immediately condemned by rights groups and international organisations, but still implemented by his administration.

READ MORE Coronavirus: Tanzania’s handling of pandemic raises eyebrows

Meanwhile, unlike other countries still suffering from the scourge of the coronavirus pandemic, Magufuli has declared Tanzania free from the pandemic.

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