Countries at the Crossroads 2006 - Tanzania

  • Author: Paul J. Kaiser
  • Document source:
  • Date:
    3 August 2006

(Scores are based on a scale of 0 to 7, with 0 representing weakest and 7 representing strongest performance.)


Defined by the World Bank as "one of the politically most stable countries in Africa," the United Republic of Tanzania conducted its third round of multiparty elections during the fall of 2005. Despite political tensions, opposition accusations of electoral irregularities, and media reports of election-related violence on the country's Indian Ocean islands of Zanzibar (Unguja and Pemba) since the advent of multipartism in 1992, the country has made some progress economically and, to a lesser extent, politically under the leadership of Union president Benjamin Mkapa, currently completing his second (and final) five-year term.

Working closely with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and key Western donors, the Mkapa government has moved forward with a vigorous economic reform agenda, dismantling the socialist ujamaa (translated as "familyhood") state created by Tanzania's founding father and first president, Julius Nyerere. In 2005, the Tanzanian government finalized its National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (the Swahili acronym is MKUKUTA). This plan, which was developed through a participatory process initiated in 2000, highlighted three goals essential to the success and sustainability of the ongoing reform process: economic growth and income poverty reduction, improvements in quality of life and social well-being, and, more broadly, improvements in governance and accountability. At the macroeconomic level, recent World Bank data indicate that the reform process is beginning to pay dividends. In 1995 the inflation rate was 27.1 percent and the economic growth rate was 3.6 percent. By 2004, inflation was around 4 percent, and the growth rate had increased by over 3 percent to 6.7 percent. Endemic corruption at all levels of government, and the limited impact of reforms in rural areas, however, undermine the positive effects of the economic reform process throughout the country.

The political situation is a bit more ambiguous. The United Republic of Tanzania is the product of a 1964 political union between two former British colonies: mainland Tanganyika and the islands of Zanzibar. While Julius Nyerere's Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) party had dominated the political landscape during the peaceful transition to independence in 1961, the same had not been true for Zanzibar, where contested elections in December 1963 were immediately followed by a January 1964 Zanzibar Revolution, which overthrew the ruling Arab aristocracy in favor a nationalist African movement led by Abeid Karume.

Negotiations between Tanganyikan President Nyerere and his Zanzibari counterpart Karume shortly after this revolution resulted in the formation of the political union between what were in April 1964 two sovereign and independent countries. A Union government (a president and a 232-member National Assembly) was established with sovereign political jurisdiction over Tanganyika and Zanzibar. A separate Zanzibar government (a president, a house of representatives, and subsequently, local councils) was also created, with political power limited to internal, non-Union matters of governance. Currently, 22 Union Matters are listed in the constitution, including foreign affairs, defense and security, police, emergency powers, citizenship, immigration, external borrowing and trade, and the "registration of political parties and other matters related to political parties." This two-government structure has resulted in a twin transition process, one dominated by the mainland and the other based in Zanzibar.

TANU was renamed the Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) in 1977. This party has been the dominant political force on the mainland since independence. Founding father Julius Nyerere governed the country from independence to 1985. His presidency was followed by those of Ali Hassan Mwinyi (1985-1995) and Benjamin Mkapa (1995-2005). As of November 2005, support was strong for CCM presidential candidate Jakaya Kikwete in the December 14, 2005 elections. The October 30, 2005 elections in Zanzibar were contentious, with incumbent CCM presidential aspirant Amani Karume (son of Zanzibar's first president) narrowly defeating Seif Shariff Hamad from the opposition Civic United Front (CUF). Both elections were originally scheduled for October 30, but the unexpected death of an opposition vice presidential aspirant prompted Tanzania's National Election Commission to reschedule the Union elections.

Accountability and Public Voice – 3.82

Multiparty politics in Tanzania are best understood in the context of the 1964 union between mainland Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Union elections have consistently reflected the will of the people in multiparty contests held in 1995 and 2000, despite the fact that local and international observers noted irregularities in both of these elections. Currently 18 registered political parties operate freely on the mainland, but their bases of support are limited to select regions and town/urban centers. The incumbent, President Benjamin Mkapa, like his predecessor Ali Hassan Mwinyi, is expected to respect the two-term limit.

As of November 2005, according to many local and international press accounts, the current CCM candidate, Jakaya Kikwete, was expected to dominate a field of nine presidential candidates in the upcoming December elections. The two other main presidential contenders were businessman Freeman Mbowe, from the Chama cha Demokrasi na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) party, and former economics professor Ibrahim Lipumba, from CUF. While it was highly unlikely that either of these candidates would be elected president, the opposition was expected to win some seats in a CCM-dominated parliament. There are differences among these political parties regarding public policy priorities and the pace and scope of political and economic reform, but there is a consensus that the reform process should be continued.

[Editors Note: The Decmber 14, 2005 presidential and legislative elections were dominated by CCM. Jakaya Kikwete received 80.3 percent of the valid votes cast, with Ibrahim Lipumba receiving 11.7 percent and Freeman Mbowe obtaining 5.9 percent. For the National Assembly, CCM won 206 seats, CUF 19 seats, CHADEMA five seats, Tanzania Labour Party one seat, and the United Democratic Party one seat. CCM nominated additional 58 seats for women, CUF 11 seats, and CHADEMA six seats. Despite some irregularities, local and international observers declared these elections free and fair.]

The National Election Commission (NEC) has the legal mandate to organize and administer elections throughout the mainland, and the registrar of political parties is entrusted with the registration of all parties contesting in local and national elections. The NEC was accused by observers and opposition parties of poorly administering the 1995 and 2000 elections, often to the advantage of the ruling party, but given CCM's dominance on the mainland, the consensus is that the will of the people was respected in both of these contests.

The executive branch in Tanzania, comprising the president, vice president (directly elected by the people), cabinet ministers (chosen by the president from parliamentarians in the National Assembly), and prime minister (chosen by the president), is constitutionally one of the most powerful on the continent. The president has the authority to reverse judgments of the Court of Appeals through legislation. Further, through his constitutional power to appoint unelected members of parliament, he can bolster ruling-party dominance in the legislative body. A constitutional provision that reserves 30 percent of the seats for women, allocated proportionally to parties in the National Assembly based on electoral performance, enables the successful political parties to appoint additional members of parliament. Given CCM's dominance in National Assembly and presidential elections, this has enabled the newly elected CCM president the chance to appoint a substantial number of female parliamentarians, along with ten additional members, as stipulated in the constitution. In addition, "all key functions down to the District Commissioners are directly appointed by – and thus dependent upon – the Presidency."

CCM continues to dominate the government at all levels despite the multiparty system in which it operates. As a remnant of the single-party era, and in recognition of continued CCM dominance, the ruling party plays an instrumental role in appointing high-ranking civil servants, but a substantial number of lower-level functionaries are selected based on competition and merit.

Negotiations between CCM and CUF following the contentious 1995 elections in Zanzibar culminated in the Muafaka (translated as "agreement") accords; a similar agreement called Muafaka II was reached between both parties after the elections in 2000. Neither agreement was fully implemented, leading CUF to contest the 2000 and 2005 elections. Muafaka II resulted in the amendment of the Election Act 1984, introducing a permanent voters register, abolishing the recording of voter registration numbers on the ballot counterfoil, giving the right to party/candidate agents to receive authenticated election results at the polling stations and collation centers, and limiting the role of Shehas (local village leaders directly appointed by the government) in the registration process.

CCM Zanzibar presidential candidate Amani Karume narrowly defeated CUF's Hamad on October 30, 2005, amid accusations of an election marred by fraud and intimidation, unfair electoral laws, a biased electoral commission, a dishonest tabulation of the ballots, and limited implementation of the amendment to the Election Act. There were a total of eight candidates for the presidency, but CUF and CCM dominated the elections on the islands. While all 16 registered political parties in Zanzibar had the de jure right to participate in the political process across the islands, the realities on the ground were quite different. Throughout the election campaigning process, CUF was repeatedly denied the right to organize campaign rallies, and the large number of security personnel from the mainland intimidated opposition members on the CUF-dominated island of Pemba and on Unguja, where pockets of CUF supporters were outnumbered by their CCM counterparts. Despite assurances by the government that CUF would have fair and equal access to the media during the campaign period, this was not the case. The CCM campaign dominated government radio, television, and print outlets, limiting coverage of opposition campaign events.

Zanzibar's elections are administered by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC), which has been repeatedly criticized by major donors, local and international observer groups, and the opposition for acting on behalf of the ruling CCM government and for ensuring the party's success on the islands at the expense of CUF. The ZEC has seven members, who include a chairperson, a vice-chairperson, and an independent commissioner (nominated by the president), two commissioners nominated by CCM, and two commissioners nominated by CUF. Despite guarantees in the constitution that the ZEC should operate independently of the government, the inclusion of political appointees has politicized the body in favor of the ruling party.

In addition to the direct election of representatives in a single-member, first-past-the-post electoral system, the attorney general and five other members elected by Zanzibar's House of Representatives also serve in the legislative body. Executive dominance also prevails in Zanzibar, where the president nominates ten members of the House of Representatives (two in consultation with the opposition), and the constitution allows for the appointment of women based on the same formula as for the Union National Assembly.

Throughout the Union, an array of civic groups, nongovernmental organizations, and public policy institutes comment on, and attempt to influence, the legislative process and subsequent implementation of public policy. The major organizations focus on HIV/AIDS, law, gender equality, children's rights, the media, land rights, and human rights. These organizations operate in relative freedom, but the government does periodically, and unpredictably, intervene to limit their work if they criticize it on sensitive matters. It is often difficult to predict how the government will respond to criticisms raised by these groups. In September 2005, the Tanzanian government banned HakiElimu, a local nongovernmental organization that published an August 2005 report criticizing government primary education reform efforts. The Ministry of Education and Culture accused HakiElimu of "disparaging the image of our education system and the teaching profession of our country through [the] media." Subsequently, 95 local and international civil society organizations issued a "Statement Regarding Rights and Responsibilities of Government and Civil Society Organizations," which offered a detailed response to the Ministry of Education's accusations against HakiElimu. The local Tanzania Education Network coordinated this response document. In contrast, organizations such as the University of Dar es Salaam-based Research and Education for Democracy in Tanzania (REDET) and Tanzania Election Monitoring Committee (TEMCO) have, over the years, offered very critical assessments of the conduct of elections with minimal interference by the government. The donor community, overall, can freely establish funded partnerships with development and advocacy organizations that engage in a wide array of activities across the country with minimal government interference.

The official registration process for nongovernmental organizations, based on the Non Governmental Organizations Act, No. 24, 2002, requires NGOs to obtain a Certificate of Compliance from the Office of the Registrar of NGOs in the vice president's office. Failure to register with this office, or to comply with the other requirements of the act, is a criminal offense. The registration and de-registration process for nongovernmental organizations is often susceptible to political pressures, as the HakiElimu case demonstrates.

The mainland and Zanzibar have separate media policies. While both governments carefully monitor and periodically limit freedom of the press, the Zanzibar government has been especially aggressive in this regard as the government owns all radio and television stations, along with the only newspaper currently published on the islands, Zanzibar Leo. The Zanzibar Newspapers, News Agency and Books Act, 1988 gives the minister in charge of information the power to ban publications with minimal oversight.

On the mainland, approximately 20 television stations and 30 radio stations are in operation, along with an array of newspapers, both public and private. A number of laws impede the media's freedom to criticize the government openly, including the Newspapers Act 1976; the National Security Act, 1970; and the Broadcasting Services Act, 1993. In April 2003, the National Assembly enacted the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority Act, which was followed in October by the release of a new policy regarding information and broadcasting. While these actions represent positive developments for media independence and freedom of expression, the government still maintains controls over the media through some of the legislation listed above. For example, the Swahili newspaper Daima was suspended for two days in December 2005 by the Ministry of Information for printing an unflattering photo of President Mkapa. This was imposed under the Newspaper Act, which allows the minister for information and culture to prohibit any publication of any newspaper "in the public interest" or "in the interest of peace and good order."

On the mainland and the islands, onerous libel suits against the press have caused concern among some advocacy groups. In February 2003, former Organization of African Unity secretary general, Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, was awarded damages worth 1,000,000 shillings (approximately $1,000 USD) by the mainland High Court. This libel suit was filed by Salim against the Kenya-based weekly East African newspaper for publishing an article critical of him in September 2002. In October 2003, the Zanzibar High Court ruled that Zanzibar's popular Dira, the first independent, locally produced newspaper since the 1964 union, had printed two libelous articles about President Karume's daughter and son in January 2003. As a result, the newspaper was ordered to pay damages set at 660,000 shillings (approximately $660 USD). Shortly afterward, the Zanzibar government suspended and the High Court subsequently banned the newspaper. The initial decision by the government to suspend Dira was based on the Zanzibar Newspapers, News Agency and Books Act, 1988, which empowers the government to close a newspaper that is determined to be a "threat to national security," because the newspaper reportedly addressed the sensitive issue of the 1964 union between mainland Tanganyika and Zanzibar islands, and it ran an article that accused the ruling party of preparing to rig the 2005 elections. The High Court did not address this issue of national security, instead ruling that the newspaper was not properly registered. In November 2004, the High Court ruled on this case again, refusing to reverse the 2003 ban.

From June 9-20, 2005, the Zanzibar government banned political columnist Jabir Idrissa from contributing to the Swahili newspaper Rai based on the claim that he did not have formal government accreditation as a journalist. The political opposition in Zanzibar, along with international organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, assert that Idrissa was banned because his writings criticized the government.

Overall, Tanzanians have freedom of cultural expression with minimal government interference. Two major pieces of legislation, the National Arts Council of Tanzania Act No. 23, 1984, and the Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act No. 7, 1999, provide the following government ministries and their agencies with the authority to monitor cultural expression: the Ministry of Industry and Trade (Copyright Society of Tanzania), the Ministry of Education and Culture (Department of Culture Development and the National Arts Council), and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (The National Museum of Tanzania).


  • The Union government should initiate a process of political reconciliation in Zanzibar between CCM and CUF, assuring that the Zanzibar government thoroughly implements all of the requirements of the Muafaka II agreement.
  • The Union and Zanzibar governments should facilitate a productive public discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of the current terms of the political union, with the goal of amending the constitution in a way that reflects the popular will of Tanzanians from both the mainland and Zanzibar.
  • The Union and Zanzibar governments should refrain from interfering with press freedom, amending all laws that give both governments the legal authority to limit freedoms to criticize government policies and political leaders.

Civil Liberties – 3.82

While there are no indications that the government engages in systematic torture of prison inmates, conditions inside the prisons are "harsh and life threatening" according to Robert Winslow, who developed a comprehensive website on "comparative criminology" across the world. Approximately 15 prisoners sentenced to death in the Ukonga maximum security prison in Dar es Salaam protested prison conditions in December 2004. According to Amnesty International, the prisoners specifically cited poor food quality, overcrowded cells, and severe beatings by prison authorities as the reasons for the hunger strike. After the prisoners wrote a letter to the president, the minister of home affairs, and the Commission for Human Rights and Governance, central prison authorities agreed to form an inquiry team to investigate. The protesting prisoners ended their strike after meeting with the inquiry team. There are over 3,000 inmates at this prison, among them more than 90 sentenced to death after being found guilty of murder. According to official government statistics, as of August 2004, 387 prisoners were under the sentence of death, although the last execution was carried out in 1995. In April 2003, President Mkapa commuted 100 death sentences.

There have been reports of prisoners waiting several years for trials because they refused, or were not able, to pay bribes to the police and court officials. In some cases, people convicted of crimes served their full sentences before their trials were held. In an effort to relieve chronic overcrowding of the prison system caused by this backlog and by the lack of adequate facilities, in February 2005 the government introduced a pilot program in six regions of the country that enables prisoners convicted for up to three years to have their sentences suspended by performing community services such as the maintenance of public roads, afforestation, environmental and water conservation, and the repair of public facilities (including hospitals and schools). According to the Minister for Home Affairs, approximately 45,000 prisoners are being housed in facilities originally designed for a total population of 20,000.

According to the Union's Preventive Detention Act No. 60, 1962 and the subsequent Preventive Detention Amendment Act No. 2, 1985, the president may order the arrest and indefinite detention (without bail) of any person who is considered by the government to be dangerous to national security or to the public order. While this section of the act is rarely used, arbitrary arrests and detentions are a problem in the country. According to the law, any person arrested for a crime, and not under the jurisdiction of the Preventive Detention Act and its Amendment, must be charged before a magistrate within 24 hours. The police often fail to comply with this statutory requirement.

While the Tanzanian government is required to protect the basic political and civil rights of men and women in the country in accordance with the constitution, the transition to multipartism and open markets has posed some challenges for the regime. The government does not have a history of implementing laws or establishing regulations that explicitly discriminate against persons based on their gender, ethnic, or religious affiliations and/or physical disabilities. Statutes are in place designed to protect persons against discrimination in employment and occupation. However, the recent political transition has resulted in the curtailment of political and civil rights for the political opposition, especially in Zanzibar (see "Accountability and Public Voice").

In terms of the political rights of women, the Union and Zanzibar governments have reserved seats for female representatives in the National Assembly and House of Representatives (see "Accountability and Public Voice"). One of the 10 candidates for president in the December 2005 Union elections, Anna Claudio Senkoro, was the first woman to run for this office. Senkoro's Progressive Party of Tanzania was not expected to obtain many votes, but the symbolic value of her campaign served to highlight the issue of civil and political rights for women in the country. More than 100 other women ran for the National Assembly. Women constitute approximately 35 percent of the public service workforce, with substantially less representation at the higher levels of public administration.

The Sexual Offenses Special Provision Act, 1998 prohibits the trafficking of persons for sexual purposes, with punishment for those found guilty ranging from 10 to 20 years of imprisonment or up to $300 in fines. It is reported that women have been trafficked to Zanzibar and Mombassa, Kenya, specifically to work as prostitutes. Many of those who are trafficked to work as domestic laborers are often subjected to commercial sexual exploitation. Children are often trafficked away from families to work in mines, in commercial agriculture, or as domestic laborers. According to the Tanzanian Ministry of Labour and Youth Development, the International Labour Organization-supported Timebound Program has enabled the government to rescue or prevent 30,530 children from being employed as miners, fishermen, commercial sex workers, plantation workers, and domestic servants over the past three years. According to a 2003 International Labour Organization report, 717,677 children between the ages of 5 and 17 were engaged in a variety of forms of labour in the country.

Tanzania encompasses more than 130 ethnic groups. The largest group, the Sukuma, represents only 13 percent of the population. Ethnic politics have not been a salient characteristic of the Tanzania state. The country's first three presidents have been from different regional, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.

While people with disabilities are not formally discriminated against, legal protection against discrimination is minimal. In addition, access to basic government social services and employment opportunities is limited due to the lack of disabled-accessible facilities in government offices.

The Tanzanian government does not have a history of placing restrictions on religious observance, religious ceremony, religious education, or the operation of faith-based organizations. However, tension between Muslims and Christians in the country appears to be increasing. These religious groups are equal in size, but some Muslims believe that Christians have dominated the political realm since independence, and some Christians fear the rise of Muslim fundamentalism in the country. These tensions have not substantially impacted freedom of worship, but periodic violent confrontations between a small number of Muslims and Christians demonstrates the potential for this to happen in the future.

The Tanzanian constitution guarantees freedom of association, and the government respects the right to form and join trade unions. However, the Zanzibar government repeatedly denied the political opposition the right to organize rallies during the campaign for the October 2005 elections (see "Accountability and Public Voice"). The government does not have a record of systematically killing political opponents or peaceful activists, although there have been instances both on the mainland and in Zanzibar in which an undisciplined police force has come into violent contact with the political opposition, especially during the months leading up to national elections. During the postelection violence between CUF supporters and the local police in Pemba in January 2001, at least 31 political protesters were killed by the police and more than 2,000 people fled to Mombassa for political refuge. This followed a large opposition political rally in Dar es Salaam, in which the defeated CUF Union presidential aspirant Ibrahim Lipumba was publicly beaten by security forces. During the 2005 election campaigns in Zanzibar, one youth was shot by the police, an act the opposition claimed had political motivations.


  • The Union government should reform the prison system by providing fair and humane treatment for inmates in accordance with international standards. The state should also abolish the death penalty and assure that all citizens charged with a crime have the opportunity to defend themselves in a timely fashion, in a court of law that does not engage in corruption or bribe taking.
  • The Union and Zanzibar governments should guarantee citizens' freedom of association, especially during election campaigns, without regard to political affiliation.
  • The Union government should widely publicize the problem of people trafficking and the importance of protecting the rights of women and children, thoroughly implementing and amending, where appropriate, all relevant child labor and trafficking laws so that the country is in accord with international standards.
  • The Union government should carefully monitor Muslim/Christian relations in the country and develop conflict prevention mechanisms if tensions intensify into repeated violent confrontation.

Rule of Law – 3.37

The judicial branch of the Tanzanian government comprises the Court of Appeal of the United Republic of Tanzania, the High Courts for the Mainland and Zanzibar, and the Judicial Service Commission for the mainland. Zanzibar has a parallel system, with some cases eligible for appeal in the Court of Appeal based on the mainland. Given the strength of the executive branch, the judiciary has rarely restrained the government in politically important cases. Even though the constitution provides for judicial independence, the World Bank reports that "constrained administrative independence of the Judiciary" has contributed to the "underlying weakness of the legal and judicial system." Due to the power of the executive branch and the corrupt practices of many in the judiciary, prosecutors can be influenced by political pressures, and high-level government officials are rarely prosecuted for corrupt practices and other inappropriate and illegal activities. However, higher courts are beginning to assert their independence from the executive branch.

The president of Tanzania has the constitutional prerogative to appoint judges to the Court of Appeal and the High Court. He also appoints the chief justice, who serves as the head of the Court of Appeal and the chief of the judiciary. The president's appointment of judges to the High Court occurs in consultation with the Judicial Services Commission (the chief justice as chairman, the attorney general, a judge of the Court of Appeal, the principal judge of the High Court, and two additional members appointed by the president). The five levels of courts combine tribal, Islamic, and British common law, with family and civil matters governed by customary law. In certain specific matters in Zanzibar and the mainland, Muslims are governed by Islamic law.

Overall, the quality of judicial services is of a low standard due to a poor legal system and regulatory framework, weak management and coordination of judicial institutions, ineffective human resources and administration, and an overall poor work environment. The International Monetary Fund specifically identifies, among other things, "low competence, morale, and integrity of public sector legal personnel." In order to address these problems, in 2005 the government has developed a Legal Sector Reform Program. It remains to be seen if this program will prove to be effective.

Everyone charged with a criminal offense is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the government is supposed to provide citizens with fair, public, and timely hearings by competent, independent, and impartial tribunals. Nonetheless, citizens charged with a crime often have to wait months, and sometimes years, for a trial. Due to endemic corruption in the judicial system, justice is more quickly served for those willing to bribe police and court officers. According to the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 only relevant parties are permitted to attend the trials of terror suspects, and information about the identity of witnesses who testify at these trials is not available to the public. For citizens charged with a serious offense, such as murder, Tanzanian law provides for defense counsel.

The Union president serves as the commander in chief of the armed forces, and he effectively controls a military that does not have a history of intervening in the political affairs of the state. The police force (and the People's Militia Field Force, commonly referred to by its Swahili acronym FFU) falls under the legal jurisdiction of the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is responsible for maintaining law and order in the country.

In 1991, the president appointed a Commission on Land Matters that studied the land tenure system in Tanzania. Issa Shivji, an eminent professor of law at the University of Dar es Salaam, chaired this commission. Around the same time, the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development assembled a committee to examine the same issue. After the results of these initiatives were published, a public debate ensued that resulted in the establishment of the National Land Policy. Subsequently, the Land Act 1999 and the Village Land Act Nos. 4 and 5 of 1999 were passed by the National Assembly. According to these acts, all land in Tanzania technically belongs to the state. However, this land can be effectively owned by Tanzanian citizens in three ways: (1) government-granted right of occupancy; (2) Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) derivative rights that permit Tanzanians to sub-lease their land to local and foreign investors; or (3) the leasing of granted-right-of-occupancy lands by the private sector. Right-of-occupancy periods range from five to 99 years, and derivative rights range between five and 98 years. Non-citizens can occupy land only for investment purposes. While the expropriation of foreign-owned businesses was a common feature of former President Julius Nyerere's village socialism initiative enshrined in the 1967 Arusha Declaration, the last reported expropriation occurred in 1985. The ambiguities of land ownership in which all land "belongs" to the Tanzanian government, but can be "owned" by citizens, and can be "occupied" for foreign investors, are vestiges of the country's socialist past that are disincentives for foreign direct investment.


  • The Union government should reform the judiciary, specifically upgrading the quality of its judicial and legal services by increasing its support for legal education and strengthening the existing legal framework by making the process more efficient and effective.
  • The Union government should demonstrate resolute political will and provide the resources necessary to enhance the effectiveness of existing institutions dedicated to eradicating corruption in the judicial branch. This can be done by thoroughly implementing the relevant existing laws and amending them where necessary, and enhancing the capacity and effectiveness of the Legal Sector Reform Program.
  • The Union government should assure judicial independence from the executive branch by amending the constitution, amending existing laws, and enacting new legislation that assures the separation of powers between the two branches of government and that enhances the oversight capacities of the judiciary.
  • The Union government should amend laws that deal with land ownership by citizens and non-citizens so that they are consistent with its current emphasis on promoting economic growth and development through local and foreign direct investment in the local economy.

Anticorruption and Transparency – 2.82

In 1975, the Anti-Corruption Squad was formed in accordance with an amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act No. 16 of 1971. Before this squad was formed, combating corruption was the province of the police force, which was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Home Affairs. In 1991, a further amendment to the 1971 act resulted in the replacement of the Anti-Corruption Squad with the Prevention of Corruption Bureau.

In 1996, the Mkapa government established the Warioba Commission, which was given the mandate to examine corruption in the country and offer a set of recommendations. The final report has served as a blueprint for combating corruption in the country, with the subsequent adoption in 1999 of a comprehensive National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan (NACSAP), the appointment of a minister of good governance, and the establishment of a Commission for Ethics. Despite these efforts, corruption in Tanzania continues to be a major problem at all levels of government, a pervasive problem that is compounded by the limited protections offered by the government for whistleblowers. Corruption is a less serious problem in the higher education sector, which has a standardized assessment procedure for admitting and grading students.

According to Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, Tanzania ranked 96th out of 146 countries in 2004 (scoring 2.8 out of 10) and 96th out of 159 (scoring 2.9) countries in 2005. A recent United Nations report cited extensive corruption in the tax administration, the judiciary, public procurement, privatization, local administration, and social services. In an effort to address this issue the Law Reform Commission has recently drafted amendments to a new Anti-Corruption Law designed to strengthen the prosecution mechanism and bring Tanzania into compliance with international treaties. This new law would provide the Prevention of Corruption Bureau with access to information and evidence necessary to conduct thorough investigations into alleged corruption by government officials. The legislation is expected to be reviewed by the cabinet no later than the end of April 2006.

According the World Bank's assessment of doing business in Tanzania, the country ranks 140th out of a total of 155 countries. Of the 10 indicators cited by the Bank in the assessment, in "dealing with licenses" Tanzania rates as the "worst performer" in the world, with property registration and the payment of taxes ranking 143 and 144, respectively. Despite the progress in macroeconomic reform, the government's intervention in the economy continues to create disincentives for entrepreneurship and local and foreign investment in the country. In an effort to address this, draft bills on Business Activities Registration and Reform and the Regulatory Licensing System are scheduled to be presented to the National Assembly by July 2006.

While certain government institutions are designed to enforce the separation of public office from the personal interests of public servants and protect against conflict of interest in the private sector, they are weak and ineffectual. This has served to provide opportunities for pervasive corruption at all levels. Disclosure procedures are, however, required for public officials by the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Act No. 5, 2001. Information on elected public officials is supposed to be available to the public, but individuals must apply to the government to review the requested documents. The application process effectively limits public access to this information. The public does not have access to information on disclosures by civil servants.

As a part of the economic reform process, the International Monetary Fund has worked closely with the Tanzanian government to enhance its capacity to collect taxes in a fair and transparent manner. The autonomous Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) is entrusted with this responsibility and has made some progress in recent years. For example, the TRA introduced a code of conduct for its tax officials, and a new tax appeal mechanism began operation in 2001. During the 2004-2005 fiscal year, tax revenue collection was 20 percent higher than in the previous year, exceeding the target amount agreed to by the Tanzanian government and the International Monetary Fund.

Despite the existence of a number of oversight and watchdog institutions, including the Prevention of Corruption Bureau, the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance, and an Ethics Secretariat, government funds are often unlawfully and unwisely spent. Many of these and other institutions have the potential to provide adequate oversight functions, but they are underfunded, unable to retain well-trained officers, have overlapping mandates, and operate in a weak legal framework. The mainland press often reports on high-profile cases of corruption, but these cases receive far less attention in the Zanzibar press, presumably because the government owns all of the newspapers and radio and television stations. Although there is a competitive system for awarding government contracts, this process is often beset with bribery and other corrupt practices by government officials at all levels of administration.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the budget-making process is "open and well-structured," with the Budget Committee and the Finance and Economic Affairs Committee responsible for legislative oversight. Quarterly reports are published and subject to review by the public, and the budget process includes input by Public Expenditure Review (PER) Working Groups that are composed of representatives from government, the World Bank, other donors, and civil society organizations. The PER recently concluded that there was a "clear need to strengthen internal and external audit of public expenditure." The government proposed to accomplish this by strengthening the capacity of the National Audit Office.

The government provides a legal environment for the administration and distribution of foreign assistance in the country, but disbursements by donors through the exchequer or by direct, in-kind grants made to projects and programs are often not accounted for due, presumably, to corrupt practices by government officials. Despite this situation, the budget coverage of externally financed projects is, according to the International Monetary Fund, "quite comprehensive."


  • The Union government should enhance the legitimacy, capacity, and effectiveness of existing oversight institutions, specifically focusing on the appropriate use of financial and in-kind foreign aid. This should be done by thoroughly implementing existing laws, amending them where necessary.
  • The Union government should fully implement all of the provisions of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan (NACSAP), strengthen the portfolio and political capacity of the Ministry of Good Governance, and enhance the effectiveness of the Commission for Ethics.
  • The Union government should facilitate an enabling environment for successful local entrepreneurs and foreign investors, specifically addressing the roadblocks to productive economic activities identified in the World Bank's "Doing Business" benchmarks for successful business development.
  • The Union government should remove government officials who are not able to account for direct and/or in-kind grants made to specific Tanzanian government projects and programs.


Paul J. Kaiser is Associate Director and Adjunct Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He has conducted extensive field research and published widely on a range of issues related to the political and economic transition process currently underway in Tanzania.

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