The Reform Agenda: Steering Tanzania Toward Democratic Resilience and Inclusivity

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Since her ascendance to power in March 2021 following the death of her predecessor, the late President John Magufuli, President Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan of the United Republic of Tanzania has identified herself as a champion of robust change in the country’s economy, politics, social, and justice systems.

The president has appointed numerous expert task forces and committees from civil societies, the media, former senior public servants, and academicians to advise her on multi-party democracy, political, judicial, parastatal, government reforms, and the 2050 national vision.

These steps of appointing a presidential task force to recommend and suggest to the president the future of Tanzania are necessary and commendable to creating state mechanisms that are independent, accountable and that have checks and balances to ensure good governance, the rule of law, political tolerance, diversity management, liberal democracy and independent judiciary as well as a society that is free from the menace of corruption and national resources thievery.

The president’s intentions and initiatives have signalled that all is not lost and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. As Dr Juma Bundala, a political analyst, put it clearly, “The 4Rs will continue to enable varied groups in our society that hold opposing views on numerous religious, social, political, and economic problems to unite on causes of national interest and development at large rather than the specific interests of the organisation with whom they are aligned”.

In short, the past regional tours conducted within Tanzania by the former NEC’s secretary responsible for ideology, publicity, and training, Hon. Paul Makonda, have highlighted the enormous challenge ahead and the plight ordinary citizens are experiencing.

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From kidnappings and disappearances of people from the hands of state authorities to people losing their plots of land from government authorities, delay of payments to business people who offer services to government authorities, all kinds of injustices and gross violation of human rights by government entities, accusations of corruption and negligence of government employees given mandates to serve and help ordinary citizens access and be heard of their plight.

Ordinary citizens raised all these grievances during the former NEC Secretary’s tour. This shows the magnitude of the task ahead facing the current regime as it strives to reform how the country is run. It is interesting to see how things will unfold as the regime embarks on shaping a future full of hope for all in our country.

Clearly, from the that tour, we can see and feel, at least from the testimonies of ordinary citizens and indeed from the reactions of Secretary Makonda, that the people mandated by the government with the responsibility to serve citizens are far from doing their described responsibilities. Funny enough, no one, if any, is making sure these people in positions are executing their duties as supposed.

The Road Towards True Reforms

In her own words, President Samia says, “This will only be possible by building a society that enjoys equal rights before the law, without discrimination and that provides equal economic opportunities for all. I believe reconciliation cannot be achieved through discrimination and where some are deprived of their economic and civil rights”.

Since independence, Tanzania, just like most African countries, a sham and manipulative democracy, has been trending and is a norm. There is said to be political tolerance and equal economic opportunities, but there is no such thing.

As the ordinary citizens in these rallies have shown, most youths are jobless. They can’t access financial support from local government authorities. At the same time, no child of the retired or present political elites is unemployed or can’t access financial support and indeed opposition parties whenever they want to carry such rallies as of the rallies of CCM NEC Secretary, encounter all kinds of state restrictions.

Most African governments are politically tolerant of opposition and criticism only when their true interests are not threatened. The moment the true interests of the political elites in Africa are on the line and under threat, no reconciliation is possible, as evidenced by the ongoing tour and inflammatory suggestions from the tour that tension is only a few flashes away.

The public, though, is optimistic that the president’s intentions are true as a prerequisite for true reconciliation that will create organisational infrastructures and state mechanisms for a possible society that enjoys equal economic, political and social rights and justice.

The president envisions a country with a resilient economy, parastatals, institutions, state structures and mechanisms that can work and serve the interests of the general public equally and fairly, as she stated, no matter who is in charge or who is in power. She states, “In the journey ahead, we shall be shaken.

Be it economic, environmental, social and political resilience”. This is a bold ambition given the way the tour of the former Secretary is uncovering. It has been widely reported from the tours that government institutions, local authorities, and most government agencies rush to tackle the challenges of ordinary citizens after hearing that the secretary is on the way.

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There are reports that some public members are detained, so they don’t have opportunities to air their grievances to the Secretary. This is normal in Tanzania, where civil servants and people in positions only try to tackle the challenges ordinary citizens face after hearing about an incoming head of state in a particular area.

With great optimism, the president will be able to build lasting economic structures,  state structures, and resilient and truly people-centred mechanisms and serve the general public’s interests to the core with pure patriotism.

In a matter of maintaining reforms, President Samia says, “my government will strive to make changes in our political, economic and electoral systems”. She continues by saying, “The goal is for Tanzania to move with the times and, as always, let us know in advance when it is time to do something even if people do not support it or do not support it at the right time”.

It is intriguing how the reforms will turn out. The recent electoral reforms have been greeted with optimism, for example. Still, history suggests that the ruling party is almost always in a position to abuse election laws and regulations, however liberal and democratic they seem. In the recently concluded general election of Tanzania’s immediate northern neighbour, Kenya, with its new constitution, it was widely reported how the outgoing regime tried to abuse the election process through state agencies.

In the Secretary’s tours and political rallies, there are flashes of the party clearly and publicly directing state organs and agencies on dealing with matters under their jurisdiction. If such orders are given in good faith, they may be given in secrecy to deal with matters threatening the interests of the ruling political parties in Africa.

The public again hopes the reforms will result in independent state mechanisms and organisational structures that perform their duties to the letter of the law without interference from anyone, or, as the common thread in Tanzania is, “maagizo kutoka juu.”

President Samia stated it clearly: “The main goal should be to grow our economy. An economy that will increase employment for our youth and that will open up opportunities for all social groups in the country.” Her comment suggests that she wants to rebuild state infrastructures, structures, and mechanisms that guarantee sustainability.

Initiatives must be undertaken quickly to rebuild most state agencies, from the Police service to the judicial process, social benefits, electoral commission, land disputes tribunal, government employment provisions, as well as local government authorities, as evidenced by grievances and claims from ordinary citizens who are raising issues ranging from unlawful detainment, torture, unemployment, corruption from government employees, and all kinds of human rights abuse common in undemocratic countries.

It is crucial that the president truly rebuild state structures and mechanisms in Tanzania to create a society that enjoys equal economic opportunities, political parity, state agencies that adhere to human rights, and state agencies that are people-centred, truly liberal, and democratic.

The tours and rallies of the former CCM’s NEC Secretary Publicity and Training, among other things, have shown the enormous task and how far we are as a country in creating a society where state structures and machinery are inter-coordinated and well coordinated with clear mechanisms to deal with all issues, be they political, economic, social, or political, not someone’s liking or will.

It is painful to see many people lining up for hours, hoping to air their grievances to one political leader once every few months, as evidenced by most tours of political leaders and as seen in the ongoing tour of former Secretary Makonda. There are thousands of people in Tanzania with dire grievances who do not know who or how to go about their grievances. This tour has vividly shown state failure and lack of coordination, injustice, human rights abuse, unequal provision of economic opportunities, and poverty of the highest order.

The initiatives the president and her team are taking to create a society that enjoys equal rights before the law and equal economic, social and political opportunities for all are commendable. Still, more needs to be done and quickly. The president’s intentions seem to be pure, and all parties and stakeholders must join her and her team to create lasting state structures, organisational infrastructures and mechanisms that will ensure a society that enjoys lasting and sustainable equality economically, politically, socially, as well as building an inclusive financial and economic system for all.

hold a bachelor's degree in Public Relations and Marketing from St. Augustine University of Tanzania. I am currently working as a Hub Data Officer for Benjamin Mkapa Foundation at Usangi District hospital. I am an experienced Marketing and Sales professional where I have worked in this field for over 5 years. I have now worked in a PEPFAR HIV funded programme for over 3 years where I have been receiving various training and facilitation on the basics of comprehensive HIV care. I am passionate about traveling and creative writing and I am determined to learn more about writing to express my ideas that will inspire positive and constructive discussion in Tanzania for the welfare of the Tanzanian society.

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Pius pius lemi
Pius pius lemi
1 month ago

Be true to yourself no single recommendation from task force has been fully realised no constitution no independent electoral commission nothing. Makonda and his approach is merely a brainwash and you know that but you ignored by design. I like your perspective though atleast we have chawa in writing industry.

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