‘The People Are Waking Up’: Is CCM’s Grip Slipping? Tanzanian politics through the eyes of the diaspora

July 30, 2013 9:35 pm0 comments by:




This Research presents the findings of a study carried out, through qualitative interviews with members of the UK-based Tanzanian diaspora, in the summer of 2012. The central research question of the study was as follows: “to what extent do members of the Tanzanian diaspora believe that CCM’s position as the governing party is threatened by political opposition?”

In pursuit of this aim, three primary research questions were explored. They are outlined and explained below.

  1. “How closely connected are Tanzanians living in the United Kingdom to their homeland, and how closely do they follow events in Tanzania?”

As well as serving to provide a context for the answers interviewees provided to the other central research questions, in part by establishing the extent to which they spoke from informed perspectives, this question was also intended to help explore the theory that modern communication technology had significantly affected the relationship between diasporas and the homeland.

  1. To what extent do members of the Tanzanian diaspora believe that the country is well governed and on the right track?

This question was designed to elucidate the criteria which members of the diaspora perceived as important in evaluating governmental performance – and hence what was expected of a governing party – and to establish the extent to which the CCM government enjoyed the support of the interview population.

  1. How do members of the Tanzanian diaspora assess the likelihood of an alteration of governing parties in the country in the near future?

This question is the most directly related to the main research question, and requires little further elaboration: interviewees were invited to discuss whether they thought that an opposition takeover at the 2015 general election was a strong possibility, and how they believed that Tanzanian politics would develop in the years to come.

The data which, it was hoped, would help to answer these questions, was collected through semi-structured interviews with members of the Tanzanian diaspora in the UK. While the methodology of this study is considered in more detail in Chapter 3, it is worth briefly considering the rationale underlying the selection of the object of study and of the population to be interviewed.

First of all, there is one particularly compelling reason to study the broad field of Tanzanian democratic politics: “Amongst all the longstanding ruling parties in Africa, CCM weathered the transition to democracy most successfully of all” (Nugent 2012: 424). CCM is often regarded as epitomising the successful and dominant African ruling party.) If so successful an electoral competitor were to be defeated, it would raise questions as to whether any of Africa’s governing parties were safe from opposition. The case of Tanzania can serve as a ‘most likely’ case (Eckstein 1992) for the theory that African democracies are dominated by strong ruling parties – should CCM prove to be seriously threatened, the grounding of this framework would be called into doubt. While the scope of this research is too narrow to directly address this theory, some potential areas for further study which might impact upon it are signposted. Moreover, much of the work should be considered as underpinned by the desire to investigate the extent to which dominant political parties hold sway in Africa.

The decision to study Tanzania through the lens provided by members of the UK-based diaspora was in large part initially occasioned by practical considerations. A combination of financial restrictions and pre-existing commitments made a prolonged period of fieldwork in Tanzania difficult to schedule. The decision was therefore taken to gather information about Tanzanian politics by interviewing members of the diaspora. The resulting research design opened up the possibility of relating some of the findings to the literature on African diasporas, with a view in particular to examining the extent to which UK-based Tanzanians managed to remain in touch with events in the homeland, with specific focus on the role of modern technology in facilitating this. This became a primary goal of the research, alongside the endeavour to examine how the diaspora interpreted recent developments in Tanzanian party politics.

 Literature and Background

African Democracy

Before directly considering the politics of Tanzania, it is worth spending some time establishing the context within which they will here be considered. A rich and diverse literature exists on the subject of African democracy, much of it concerned with the argument to which this case study can be seen as in some senses related: that democracy in Africa is blighted by the dominance of entrenched governing parties. Whether this is taken to be the case or not, the recent history of African democracy can be said to have begun somewhat over 20 years ago, as the Cold War ended. Writing in 1991, Samuel Huntington identified the contemporary progress of a ‘third wave’ – the first wave having taken place in the early 19th century, and the second immediately following the Second World War – of global democratisation. Africa is generally viewed as one region which was strongly affected by this wave (Bratton and van de Walle 1997; Diamond 1996; Huntington 1991; Ishiyama and Quinn 2006). Indeed, over the period from the late 1980s until the mid-1990s, many African countries adopted at least the procedural trappings of democracy, instituting reforms that Bratton and van de Walle (1997: 3) describe as “the most far-reaching shifts in African political life since the time of political independence 30 years earlier.” Today, while levels of political freedom and electoral diversity vary widely across the continent, almost all African governments make at least some surface commitment to democratic principles (Ishiyama and Quinn 2006: 320; Rakner and van de Walle 2009: 108). Almost the entire continent sees elections of some kind or another, with Eritrea being the only country without any form of regular electoral competition (Green 2011: 1101).

This transition has had genuinely significant consequences. In particular, the continent’s political landscape has become much more stable and peaceful. In the years since 1990, leaders have overwhelmingly left office through constitutionally-accepted means – usually when they have either suffered electoral defeat or been forced to retire due to term limitations. This contrasts to earlier decades, where leaders were predominantly ousted by coups and assassinations (Posner and Young 2007: 127). Nevertheless, Africa’s progress towards democracy, while undeniable, has been “uneven and fragile” (Nugent 2004: 369). Several authors point towards the extent to which much of the continent remains under the control of entrenched governing parties as an area for particular concern.  Bogaards (2004: 192) believes that the prevalence of multi-party elections has not stemmed the development of a “worrying trend of one-party dominance in Africa”, while Ishiyama and Quinn (2006: 332) agree, contending that the emergence of dominant-party systems is an “apparent reality of third-wave elections in sub-Saharan Africa”. In a number of African states, the line between the ruling party and the institutions of the state is at best blurred (Bogaards 2004; Makulilo 2012), with the party drawing resources from and utilising the executive functions of the state. This is perhaps most clearly illustrated by the levels of power wielded by holders of presidential office, who exercise tremendous levels of control over policy and patronage, and can exercise their power against opposition with few checks (Prempeh 2008; Rakner and van de Walle 2009).

One factor often cited as impeding the progress of democratisation in Africa – or at least, as ensuring that African democracies do not develop along a course analogous to that pursued in the West – is the continued centrality of vertical networks of patronage to much political activity in the continent. Political leaders stand and fall by their ability to provide materially for their followers (Clapham 1985; Schatzberg 1993). Whether these networks are interpreted as derived primarily from the colonial habit of empowering ‘traditional’ tribal leaders and ruling indirectly through them (Mamdani 1995), from the ‘gatekeeper’ structures set up by colonial states aimed at minimising governmental presence and maximising extracted revenues (Cooper 2002) or from the survival and development of age-old African political traditions (Chabal and Daloz 1999), their crucial importance to African politics is widely recognised.

The aforementioned conflation of the state and many ruling parties ensures that, across much of the continent, the ruling party is given the ability to entrench its dominance by utilising the resources of the state to cement support (van Biezen and Kopecky 2007; Makulilo 2012). The significance of provision means that opposition parties can often only hope to rival governments by building up power-bases and clientelist networks of their own. Not only does this place serious obstacles in the path of often under-resourced opposition movements, who are unable to offer sufficient incentives to voters when electoral contests become determined by who can more effectively maintain networks of patronage (Lindberg 2003), but it helps to ensure that changes of power are not accompanied by changes in the political culture (Cooper 2002: 182). One notorious example was provided by Zambia, where the opposition presidential candidate, union leader Frederick Chiluba, managed to gain the support of enough wealthy and influential power-brokers to successfully defeat long-time leader Kenneth Kaunda (Bratton and van de Walle 1997: 259). However, the patronage networks and quid pro quos which were crucial to the formation of this alliance ensured that the “rampant corruption and disarray” of his new regime did not represent any step forward from that which it had replaced (Cheeseman and Hinfelaar 2010: 66).

More often than this, however, opposition movements in Africa are weak and fragmented (Ishiyama and Quinn 2006; Rakner and van de Walle 2009). They struggle to compete with the resources available to the government, and their lack of success means that coherent, united and broad-based opposition movements fail to emerge. Many countries witness electoral cycles where a strong governing party is confronted by a rotating cast of divided opponents, who are comfortably defeated, fade from national view and are then replaced by different parties by the next election, meaning that there is no chance for an opposition to build up serious support, are common (Rakner and van de Walle 2009).

It would be misleading to assert that African opposition parties fail utterly to challenge the grip of dominant parties. Governments are displaced – both Ghana and Zambia, for instance, have seen oppositions triumph in their most recent elections. Nevertheless, the playing field is slanted in favour of governments. The era of democratisation has been followed by a “widespread sense of frustration” (Cooper 2002: 183) at the absence of radical transformation in African politics, and the extent to which many African states have been dominated by a single political party. An examination of the recent history of Tanzania reveals it to be a strong exemplar of such a model.

 Tanzania since 1991

Tanganyika[1] became independent from Britain in 1961. The TANU (Tanganyika African National Union) movement which had spearheaded the independence movement, and had effectively harnessed, if not quite created, the forces of Tanganyikan nationalism (Brennan 2012: 160), convincingly won political power: Pratt (1976: 22) argues that the success of the movement meant that by the end of the 1950s it “commanded the near universal support of Tanganyikan Africans”. The constitution drawn up in 1965 granted them the status of the mainland’s only party (Tordoff 1967). In 1977, TANU merged with the Afro-Shirazi Party, which governed Zanzibar. The resultant party, now in undisputed control of the entirety of Tanzania, was named CCM (Chama Cha Mapindzui – Party of the Revolution). CCM has continued to govern Tanzania ever since.

Under the leadership of Julius Nyerere – a graduate of Edinburgh University who led the movement towards independence – Tanzania, in common with much of the rest of Africa, experienced significant economic difficulties from the late 1970s onwards (Cooper 2002; Nugent 2004). However, the country’s social policies were rather more successful. It is widely argued in the literature that the politics of ethnicity have been of only marginal importance in Tanzania, and that, when compared to the situation in other African countries, a remarkable level of national unity exists (Glickman 1995; Geiger 1997; Hyden 1999; Kelsall 2003; Nugent 2004; Southall 2006). This phenomenon has generally been accredited to two factors: the country’s favourable demography and the explicit policy of the Nyerere government. Of the country’s many ethnic groups, few were large and powerful enough to threaten to control the state, and many were familiar with the Swahili language. This meant that the country’s ethnic groups were prepared to co-operate without fearing that this would lead to any large group establishing hegemony, and could easily do so in a suitable lingua franca (Cartwright 1983; Glickman 1995Geiger 1997;). Secondly, Nyerere’s government sought with some success to construct a unified Tanzanian national identity, through ensuring widespread public participation in the governing party, TANU, rather than governing through cultivating the support of any specific ethnic groups (Pratt 1976; Cartwright 1983; Glickman 1995), in contrast for instance to the Kenyatta regime in neighbouring Kenya, which relied heavily upon the support of the powerful Kikuyu tribe (Tamarkin 1978; Kagwanja 2003).

For much of its history, Tanzania operated under single-party democracy, where the public voted in primary elections to decide which member of CCM would represent them. These elections were generally keenly contested, with up to 40% of incumbents being defeated (Tordoff 1967; Kelsall 2003). In the early 1990s, partly at the urging of now ex-president Nyerere, who both recognised the global trend towards political pluralisation and believed that CCM had become stale and would benefit from competition, the country legalised alternative parties, with the first multi-party elections being held in 1995 (Glickman 1995; Hyden 1999). CCM comfortably secured both the presidency and control of parliament that year, and has continued to do so in subsequent elections. Writing at the outset of the third wave of democratisation, Huntington (1991: 266-267) argued that a country could only truly be seen as democratic after two peaceful power transfers between different political parties. As yet, Tanzania has not seen even one such alteration. A number of factors have been pointed to in explanation.

Tanzania’s relative lack of ethnic tension and strong national unity are a source of considerable pride and satisfaction to the country’s people. CCM have been able to present themselves as the guardians of the continuation of this unity. As the only party with a strong presence throughout the country – including in Zanzibar – they have been able to successfully brand challengers with regional bases like the UDP and the NCCR as representing a tribal threat to Tanzania’s multi-ethnic harmony (Kelsall 2003). The shadow cast by the ethnic violence which has succeeded elections in neighbouring Kenya and Rwanda has strengthened CCM’s efforts to define itself as the defender of Tanzanian unity (ibid). The belief that to oppose CCM is to threaten the cohesion of the Tanzanian people has a long history: when discussing the early TANU years, Glickman (1967: 209) argues that the party benefited from a “tendency to equate opposition with sedition” among the masses. The party’s long spell in power has enabled it to become strongly associated with the state in the minds of the electorate: Sivalon’s study of the attitudes of rural voters found that “over the years peasants had come simply to identify governance with CCM” (Sivalon 1999: 242).

Much of CCM’s strength is derived from the extent to which the party is in some senses coterminous with the Tanzanian state (Hoffman and Robinson 2009; Makulilo 2011). During the single-party era, the party’s leaders sought to interweave its bureaucratic structure with that of the country’s government (Allen 1995: 306). The transition to multi-party democracy was overseen throughout by the ruling party, which was able to exert control over the process in order to preserve its institutional hold on power (Hyden 1999). Calls for constitutional reform were not heeded, with the result that Tanzania has thus far retained the constitution drawn up during the single-party era, facilitating the continued links between government and CCM (Makulilo 2011: 244). In particular, the significant discretionary powers available to the office of the president have been consistently used for the benefit of CCM (Makulilo 2012: 103), exemplifying Prempeh’s (2008) argument that African states are often dominated by presidential power, referred to above. These links have empowered CCM to “provide predictable access to office for the political and administrative elites” (Therkildsen 2009: 12), delivering the expected rewards to who support the party.

The party’s continued ability to parcel out the rewards derived from its control of the state has facilitated the maintenance of its coalition of support. A key aspect of this coalition is that it is broad-based. Building on Nyerere’s goal of garnering far more support from the populace than was strictly necessary to secure a claim to power, with the original goal of avoiding inter-community strife (Hyden 1994), CCM has been able to incorporate a wide variety of civil society actors and support bases, rather than relying on mining any particular group for voters. This has made it extremely difficult for opposition parties to acquire any institutional support, with the consequence that, throughout much of the multi-party era, it was fair to assert that “real politics is conducted inside the CCM” (Nugent 2004: 414). Debates over policy and the allocation of resources took place between different factions and actors within the party, rather than with opposition parties. The party’s dominance and control of patronage long discouraged vocal opposition: for many, “falling out of grace with CCM meant the loss of jobs, privileges and security” (Sivalon 1999: 241).

These advantages ensured that, for the majority of the multi-party era, party politics in Tanzania exemplified the ‘strong governing party, weak and divided opposition’ model identified above. A variety of alternative parties, including CHADEMA, CUF, NCCR, the TLP and the UDP (Hyden 1999; Sivalon 1999; Kelsall 2003; Nugent 2004) consistently failed to seriously threaten CCM in nationwide polls. Until recently, the party’s hold on power looked ominously secure. Indeed, in Hoffman and Robinson’s 2009 article, titled ‘Tanzania’s Missing Opposition’, they felt sufficiently certain of their conclusion that CCM were entrenched in power that they felt able to declare that “Tanzania is not a democracy, but a one-party hegemonic regime” (Hoffman and Robinson 2009: 125). O’Gorman’s (2012) recently-published article has a similarly committal title, though it is worth noting that the field research which formed much of the basis for ‘Why the CCM Won’t Lose’ was undertaken as long ago as 2008 in rural Tanzania. Throughout the multi-party era, CCM has been strongly supported in rural areas (Sivalon 1999), and O’Gorman found that this support was remaining robust, despite CCM’s failure to deliver material benefits to its supporters in the country. She saw this as attributable to a combination of a lack of enthusiasm[2] for alternative parties and feelings of loyalty towards the party which delivered independence and peace.

CCM’s electoral dominance has also rested on more direct coercion. Since the advent of multi-party politics in Tanzania, Zanzibar has witnessed much closer competition than has the mainland. Elections on the islands have seen close races between CCM and CUF, been marred by controversy and violence, and have been won by CCM with wafer-thin and disputed margins, The party is widely accused of essentially rigging the elections, and authorising the use of violence and state-backed coercion against opposition supporters (Bakari 2001; Heilman and Kaiser 2002; Cameron 2009). Since the latest poll, in 2010, a power-sharing agreement has been in operation between the parties (Bakari and Makulilo 2012). The problems surrounding elections in Zanzibar can be viewed as a potential harbinger of similar woes on the mainland. While CCM is often perceived as a “benign hegemon” (Hoffman and Robinson 2009), its political dominance has long rested in part on manipulation of the public arena, and it has shown willingness to use repressive measures when it feels itself threatened (Hoffman and Robinson 2009; Makulilo 2012). If the party’s leaders felt that their grip on national power was seriously under threat, then it is possible that Tanzania’s elections as a whole might be marked by the kind of unrest repeatedly witnessed in Zanzibar.

It is possible that just such a nationwide threat is developing. The 2010 election can be seen as representing a watershed. The liberal CHADEMA (Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo – Party for Democracy and Progress) party made a significant electoral breakthrough, winning 27% of the presidential vote and gaining enough parliamentary seats to firmly establish themselves as CCM’s main rivals on the mainland. Since then, their position has continued to strengthen, as underlined by a recent by-election in the Arumeru parliamentary constituency, where the CHADEMA candidate unexpectedly defeated the CCM nominee by a convincing margin. While CCM’s strength should not be underestimated, it does seem that politics in Tanzania is becoming increasingly contested, with the ruling party at last beginning to be seriously challenged.

Diasporas: an introduction

Having established the context within which the study will be taking place, it is necessary to briefly consider some salient features of the population from which the data will be collected. Estimates of the size of the UK-based Tanzanian diaspora vary. The 2001 UK Census – the most recent for which figures are available – puts the population at 32,365, while some community organisations believe that the true figure is now over 100,000. Much of this population is concentrated around the south of England, specifically in the London area, but sizeable concentrations also exist further north in most major towns, including Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland. The International Organization for Migration estimates the size of Edinburgh’s Tanzanian population at between 100 and 150 (International Organization for Migration 2009). The uncertain nature of these estimates affects the advisability of different sampling methods, as will be discussed in the next chapter. The same report found that Tanzanians were generally prompted to travel to the UK for reasons deriving from “economic hardship, for study or to escape the political regime”, the latter largely applying only to those fleeing Zanzibar’s more repressive political climate (IOM 2009). The population interviewed in this study primarily fell into the second of these categories, and so could perhaps be expected to be more affluent and well-educated than many of their co-nationals. This should be borne in mind when attempting to make any generalisations from the results.

According to Safran (1991: 84), diaspora members continue to take a strong interest in events in the homeland, and often believe that they should retain a commitment to ensuring its “safety and prosperity”. Some members of diasporas endeavour, through the formation of non-governmental organisations and interest groups, to influence the course of political developments in their homelands (Lyons and Mandaville 2010: 91). Tanzania is no exception to this, with a long history of groups of migrants forming ‘home associations’ to maintain a relationship with the homeland (Mercer, Page and Evans 2008). Accordingly, diaspora members can be expected to remain in touch with affairs in Tanzania, rendering them a useful potential source of information. The extent to which this is the case has been amplified by recent technological developments, and the proliferation of modern methods of communication. In the words of Akyeampong (2000: 213), “contemporary migrants remain connected to the homeland in ways that were not technologically possible in the pre-nineteenth-century era.” In the twelve years since that assertion was made, it has become even easier for members of the diaspora to communicate with the homeland. While it remains the case that diaspora members in wealthy countries like the UK have better access to communication technology than their counterparts in the homeland (Karim 2010: 166), Tanzania has been no exception to the trend towards increased mobile phone adoption in Africa, with the use of such devices witnessing rapid growth in recent years (Molony 2008: 641-642). Consequently, it has become far easier for Tanzanians to stay in direct, immediate contact with their families and friends. In addition, the internet is facilitating communication. Tanzanian radio and television stations are available to view online, and a wide variety of blogs and forums exist (Chachage 2010), ensuring that the Tanzanian media landscape is highly accessible to diaspora members. As a result, Clifford’s (1994: 304) assertion that “dispersed peoples, once separated from homelands” find themselves increasingly “in border relations with the old country thanks to a to-and-fro made possible by modern technologies” is even more valid today.

Modern diaspora members, who are able to remain well informed as to events in their home country to an extent which would have been utterly impossible a few decades ago, represent a possible source of valuable insights into the politics of their native land. They can be expected to possess a high level of knowledge about Tanzanian affairs, while their presence in the UK not only has implications for the practicalities of interviewing them for UK-based researchers, but could perhaps also mean that they will have fewer qualms about revealing their political opinions than people living in Tanzania, who could fear antagonising CCM chiefs. That said, it is important to recognise that they are not Tanzanian residents: data from the diaspora can complement and enhance that gathered from inside the country, but – at least if insights about Tanzania rather than the diaspora itself are sought – it cannot replace it.

The Case Study

My research examines the views of a small section of the Tanzanian diaspora, largely based in Edinburgh, on the development of governance and politics in their home country. As the research was both small-scale and strictly qualitative in nature, wide generalisability was not a key goal. Rather, a central aim of the research design was to achieve internal validity, such that the situation as described in the findings was consistent with detailed study of that which was observed (Schofield 2000: 71). The extent to which one can make confident generalisations about aspects of Tanzanian politics, based on a small and non-random sample of one small piece of the country’s diaspora, made up almost entirely of people who left the country to study and are accordingly both better-educated and better-off than the bulk of the population, is obviously minimal. Nevertheless, the study retains value, both as a fair reflection of the views of the specific interview population on the matter at hand (Hammersley and Gomm 2000: 3) and as a “method of exploration” into the views of the Tanzanian diaspora which can signpost potentially fruitful avenues for further research (Stake 1978: 24). When considering future research into the same field, one point should be borne in mind. Given the pace at which party politics can develop, a longer-term study of CCM’s hold on power could find itself “chasing a moving target” (Hancké 2009: 31). The results of the next general election, to be held in 2015, may well go some way towards decisively answering the central question of this study, whether CCM are ousted or consolidate their grip. That said, the qualitative nature of this research means that it could, even in that event, continue to yield useful insights which could contribute towards explaining the factors underlying electoral developments in Tanzania.

It is immediately obvious that the nature of the sample population does not permit the drawing of confident conclusions about the nature of politics in Tanzania. The composition of a diasporic population should not be regarded as representative of that of the populace of the ‘home’ state. Among the interviewees, most had arrived in the UK to pursue university study, meaning that they had much more experience of education than most Tanzanians. Whatever their motivations, the views of a community, living abroad, who migrated away from their home country, should on no account be taken as necessarily representative of the views of those who remained in the homeland. Therefore, while it has been mentioned above that one reason to examine Tanzanian politics is provided by its status as a ‘most likely’ case of the theory that Africa’s governing parties are strongly entrenched, the current study’s scope is, regrettably too small to relate meaningfully to this theoretical question. Moreover, as discussed above, caution should be exercised before viewing the population interviewed for this study as necessarily representative even of the diasporic community from which it was drawn. The small pool of interviewees and the less-than-structured method of sampling preclude this. There is, however, one sense in which broader conclusions can potentially be drawn from the findings of this study. As it will emerge, the interviewees were articulate, well-educated and closely informed about Tanzanian politics. Moreover, their residence in the UK places them to some extent at least outside the influence of the Tanzanian government. Given the literary consensus referred to earlier that CCM’s supporters were generally uneducated, lacked political knowledge and were also influenced by the party’s control over patronage, the diaspora group interviewed can be viewed as representing a ‘most likely’ case (Eckstein 1992: 149). If any group of Tanzanians could be expected to be disinclined to support CCM, it might be this. Perhaps more importantly, if any group might be expected to believe that CCM would struggle to secure re-election, the interviewed population might be that group. Consequently, if the interviewees either displayed some level of support for the CCM regime, or if they felt that its grip on the reins of power remained secure, this would shed considerable doubt on any hypothesis which held that CCM’s days in government were numbered.

While a number of the limitations of this study are a consequence of the factors discussed above, changes could have been made to the research design which would have increased the validity of the study. Firstly, I should have explored the personal backgrounds of the interviewees in more depth. Finding out whether the diaspora members to whom I spoke predominantly hailed from the same region of Tanzania or were united only by their nationality and current area of residence would have been valuable. Moreover, the occupations currently pursued by the interviewees, and possibly also by their parents, could have provided an interesting additional variable.

Secondly, while the seven interviews have, I believe, provided a sufficient quantity of usable data, this number was at the low end of my expectations. Relying on pure snowball sampling and personal contacts meant that I was overly reliant on receiving introductions to willing new subjects from previous interviewees. These introductions did not prove as speedy or plentiful as I had hoped. Had I realised that this would be the case, I would – at a relatively early stage, perhaps in May – taken have a more proactive approach to setting up meetings with diaspora members, possibly seeking to contact Edinburgh-based Tanzanians through a local organisation such as the Tanzania Edinburgh Community Association (TzECA). This may have helped me to access a larger sample, increasing the potential generalisability of the findings, within the diaspora at least.

CCM’s Declining Support

It rapidly became clear that the interviewees were, without exception, not positively disposed towards CCM, and were inclined to be very critical about its performance. They also universally believed that the Tanzanian populace as a whole was becoming less happy with the CCM government. Two primary problems confronting the ruling party were discussed. Firstly, the interviewees believe that Tanzania is not being well governed and should not be seen as being on the right track. Economic performance is seen as disappointing, in particular when the conditions facing ordinary Tanzanians are considered. At the root of their concerns about governance lies a serious level of frustration with the corruption which the interviewees see as being endemic within the country, and which they associate with the CCM government. The second problem to confront the party is that the voters are – it is argued – becoming increasingly willing to consider supporting alternatives, for a number of reasons: opposition parties have finally secured a level of public prominence and success; younger voters, who do not remember the days of Nyerere and single-party rule and lack the ingrained loyalty some of their elders feel for CCM, are playing a more significant role; and after some years of political stability in both Kenya and (particularly) Rwanda, fears of ethnic strife sparked by political conflict are dwindling .

 CCM’s inadequate governance

The interviewees consistently expressed the strong belief that CCM’s management of Tanzania had been entirely inadequate. This criticism took two main forms. Firstly, there was considerable discussion of the party’s record of delivering effective policies, especially in the economic sphere. Two separate interviewees, for instance, focused on the failure of the government to properly exploit Tanzania’s natural resources. It was argued that two significant potential strengths – Tanzania’s diverse mineral wealth on the one hand; and the country’s wildlife, scenery and climate which make it a suitable tourist destination on the other – were not being properly exploited for the benefit of the country’s people (Interview 2; Interview 6). Attention also focused on the failure of the Tanzanian government to improve life for ordinary people. Interviewees made the point that, despite a continuing serious of seemingly impressive macroeconomic figures – such as GDP growth – the country’s problems with poverty were not being tackled, and much infrastructure remained poor (Interview 2; Interview 6). This is borne out by economic data: since the structural adjustment programmes of the 1990s, the incomes of large proportions of both the urban and rural poor have seen falls (Nugent 2004: 345). Another interviewee bemoaned the problems of unemployment, and argued that they were not alleviated by foreign investment, as large companies generally brought lots of workers from outside Tanzania, limiting the number of jobs available for local people (Interview 4).

It would be misleading to claim that the interviewees had nothing good to say about how Tanzania has been governed over the years. The country’s aforementioned record of national unity and peaceful stability, marked by an absence of serious tensions between ethnic and religious groups, was held up by several respondents as something of which the nation could be proud (Interview 1; Interview 2; Interview 3; Interview 6). This lends support to the argument made by Kelsall (2003) and O’Gorman (2012) that CCM’s responsibility for – and attempts to position itself as the guardian of – national unity continue to be politically salient, long after Nyerere’s era. One interviewee expanded on this point, saying that, in contrast to the rest of Africa, there was no need to find out what tribal group new acquaintances belonged to, and no serious ethnic rivalries to consider (Interview 3)

Another feature of Tanzanian political life for which the government received praise was the level of political openness and freedom in the country. More than one interviewee argued that, especially when compared to other African countries, it was easy for people to express their political views without fearing the consequences of dissent (Interview 4; Interview 6). One respondent – who was otherwise a fairly strong critic of the current government – believed that the levels of freedom of expression allowed under the Kikwete government exceeded those at any other time in Tanzanian history. That said, the same interviewee also expressed scepticism about whether this should be interpreted as the result of deliberate policy or of increased pressure from civil society and international actors (Interview 3). Indeed, lending support to the theory that this political openness was forced upon the Kikwete administration, one interviewee argued that this openness had contributed to the generation of new problems for CCM: increased freedom for dissent led to more publicly expressed criticisms of the government, which in turn strengthened the hand of the opposition and made it easier for rival political movements to attract support (Interview 7). While there was agreement that this freedom of expression was very welcome, two interviewees expressed concern that the extent to which it had led to a transformation in the political environment was limited. Despite the politically open climate, the Tanzanian people in general continued to wield very little influence over political affairs in the country, which remained tightly controlled by CCM (Interview 4; Interview 6).

 Perceptions of Corruption

The second aspect of CCM’s stewardship of Tanzania which was heavily criticised by the interviewees was the level of corruption and self-seeking behaviour attributed to large numbers of members of parliament and government. There was a general impression that corruption was endemic to the CCM regime. One interviewee argued that the CCM government had long been entirely uninterested in launching any proper investigation into instances of corruption or in deterring their repetition, providing a number of examples of cases where perpetrators had not been brought to book. The controversial purchase of an expensive radar system from BAE in 2002[3] was singled out, as were corruption scandals involving high-ranking government officials in 2005 and 2006, as situations where those responsible had suffered no legal consequences (Interview 2).

Opinions on the extent to which Tanzania’s politicians should be viewed as utterly corrupt and self-interested varied. One interviewee took a nuanced line, arguing that a lot of politicians who end up indulging in corruption begin their careers with sincere beliefs and honest intentions, but become infected by the corruption inherent in the political system – while also expressing a belief that some people do pursue a political career with the initial intention of making money (Interview 3). A related point was made by another respondent, who argued that the majority of Tanzanian politicians genuinely were endeavouring to improve conditions for the populace – the only problem was that in most cases “the government are working to benefit themselves” first and foremost, and working for the benefit of the nation was for many parliamentarians second on the priority list to feathering their own nests (Interview 7).Not all interviewees believed that politicians actually cared at all about the population: one explicitly went as far as to argue that, in most cases, self-enrichment was the only goal, and that “very few of them are actually interested in developing the country” (Interview 4)

There was no consensus as to whether these levels of corruption were a new development. One interviewee thought that the problem had certainly become worse over recent years, invoking the example of Nyerere as a man who had entered politics for the sake of public service, and with a view to carrying out a concrete political project rather than as a mere career choice. This, it was argued, presented a stark contrast to the situation today, where political actors are generally self-interested: “80% of politicians … just go into politics because they want to make money” (Interview 6). Another largely disagreed, asserting that this was not a new phenomenon and that “every government was the same”, united by the desire of their members to abuse their positions for gain (Interview 5).

 The Rise of Political Opposition

This dissatisfaction with CCM’s record in office was accompanied by a belief that opposition parties were making increasing amounts of headway in Tanzania. The interviewees believed that CCM’s grip on the Tanzanian electorate was slipping and that the voters were becoming more willing to support alternative political parties. CCM was seen as having little to recommend it for electoral support. As mentioned earlier, the interviewees did seem genuinely appreciative of the fact that CCM’s long spell in power had brought peace, stability and national unity. Nevertheless, they felt that the party was no longer achieving anything of value. There was a sense that the decades in office had created a stagnant, complacent party which was no longer driven by any impulse other than to retain the power to which it felt entitled (Interview 3). One interviewee described a self-contained governing elite – “a group of people going around doing the same thing” – which simply divided the spoils derived from control of the state between themselves as “like the Mafia”, adding that while CCM were willing to make bold promises to secure election, they never endeavoured to deliver on them when returned to office (Interview 5).One theme which continually recurred in the interviews can best be summed up in the following phrase, which occurred with very little variation in three interviews: “the people are waking up” (Interview 3; Interview 6; Interview 7). In these and others, respondents consistently expressed an opinion that more and more members of the population were becoming aware that they did not have to vote for the ruling party, whose governing performance was increasingly obviously disappointing. Moreover, they believed that fewer people than before were driven either by loyalty to the party that delivered independence and peace, or by fear of the consequences of an opposition victory.

One particularly interesting omission from most of the interviews was the figure of Nyerere. Despite the economic shortcomings of his administration, respect for the personal integrity and social achievements of ‘Mwalimu’[4] was such that, some time after retiring from presidential office, he continued to be the most popular politician in the country (Kaiser 1996: 231). Moreover, after his retirement he was viewed as an icon of both the party and the nation, with his ‘moral authority’ serving to bolster CCM’s position – in much the same way as that in which Nelson Mandela continued to be strongly associated with the ANC after leaving office (Southall, Simutanyi and Daniel 2006: 12-13). For instance, it has been argued that it was his campaigning interventions in the 1995 election which delivered Benjamin Mkapa to a comfortable victory over Augustine Mrema (Richey and Ponte 1996: 82), a point echoed by one of the interviewees (Interview 2). That apart, however, Nyerere was not often mentioned in these conversations. He remains a highly respected figure: what mentions there were occurred in a positive context (in Interview 6, for instance, he was held up as a principled leader who differed starkly from today’s more venal politicians). Nevertheless, the fact that he was not often mentioned is intriguing. It may be the case that, in modern Tanzanian political discourse, he continues to be seen as a revered former leader, but is no longer the figure immediately associated with CCM. Certainly, when asked to discuss the party the interviewees did not generally refer to its first leader.

The interviewees saw the increase in the chances of a challenge to CCM’s dominance as being caused by a number of factors. One identified two primary causes. For one, it had taken time for much of the electorate to become accustomed to multi-party politics and to realise that opposition parties could challenge for power. This echoes Rakner and van de Walle’s (2009) point that it takes time for parties – time which many do not have – to establish a high public profile and build up a base of support. The second factor, it was argued, was that during the early part of the multi-party era voters were alarmed by the violent consequences of oppositional politics seen in Rwanda and Kenya, and opted to remain loyal to CCM. Now, however, those events are increasingly seen as part of the past, and concerns that voting for the opposition jeopardises peace are receding (Interview 1). Another interviewee echoed both of these arguments, emphasising the point that fears of ethnic strife had receded since the 1990s, while also referencing the increased openness of Tanzanian political culture discussed earlier as a major driver behind the growth of opposition parties: people no longer felt any desire to hide their opposition affiliations and could more easily promulgate their views (Interview 3). Another development which was viewed as particularly significant was the role played by younger voters who were beginning to participate in Tanzanian politics. Young people, it was argued, were increasingly active in grassroots politics, and were now more involved than their elders (Interview 2). Having grown up during the era of multi-party politics, they were more accustomed to political choice, and did not feel the same connection to CCM as older voters, whose perceptions had been shaped by the single-party period (Interview 3)[5]. This was seen as a welcome development: young people were viewed as bringing freshness and enthusiasm into political life, and were seen as holding the potential to reform the corrupt political regime by which they were as yet uncontaminated (Interview 5)..

 CCM’s Persistent Advantages

Despite the interviewees’ lack of support for CCM, and their belief that the country was becoming increasingly disenchanted with the governing party notwithstanding, one consistent point which emerged from the data was that people felt that CCM would nevertheless be likely to retain power at the 2015 election. This conclusion is broadly backed by three factors. Firstly, CCM’s plentiful resources, willingness to use its powers of patronage and long-established connection with the voters give it a serious advantage in electoral contests. Secondly, while the interviewees spoke of popular dissatisfaction with CCM, they did not believe that any opposition party – including CHADEMA – enjoyed the levels of support necessary to sweep past it to power, especially considering the uneven electoral playing field. Finally, CCM were viewed not as a scourge in themselves, but as a part of a corrupt and dysfunctional political system. Not only was there a general sense that their removal alone would not solve Tanzania’s problems, but there was no sense that the interviewees felt particular hostility towards the party.

Electoral manipulation and rural heartlands

The interviewees overwhelmingly believed that CCM’s dominant position in Tanzania will enable it to influence the results of the next election through unfair means, and that the party will not hesitate to do so. Indeed, two independently went so far as to state a belief that, while CCM was sufficiently unpopular that it would actually lose a fair election, there was no chance that the government would allow such a contest to take place, and would use underhand means to cling to power (Interview 2; Interview 6).

One respondent singled out direct electoral fraud as a major part of CCM’s strategy, arguing that the party could use its aforementioned closeness to the institutions of the state to infiltrate the corpus of vote counters and boost its electoral performance, such that “if there was electronic balloting then CCM would be in trouble” (Interview 2). This is an interesting attitude: rather than being a panacea against malpractice, electronic voting can facilitate the task of those determined to distort the results – amending the software used in such machines to count incorrectly can affect more votes at a lower cost than suborning large numbers of returning officers (Di Franco et al 2004). This belief that electronic balloting would prevent fraud could be perhaps be interpreted as a manifestation of the association of technology with modernity.

Most interviewees, however, focused on the party’s more indirect methods of distorting the political playing field, primarily centred on the fact that CCM has access to significantly greater resources of patronage than those at the disposal of its opponents. Different interviewees discussed different means through which the party exploits this advantage. One discussed the party’s practice of paying out money to large numbers of young people around election time, securing both a good number of votes and an army of helpers to further the CCM campaign effort (Interview 1), and adding that the party can also use its control of funding and patronage as a defensive measure. Since opposition parties “cannot compete” with the resources at the disposal of CCM, the party can, when confronted by troublesome opponents, often buy them off through offers of patronage and preferment, or indeed through straightforward bribery (Interview 1). A second interviewee also talked about the extent to which CCM exerts control – through its governmental powers – over Tanzania’s economy and society, discussing how difficult it consequently is for opposition parties to gain any kind of institutional support, and shutting off potential sources of funding (Interview 6). This is supported from the literature by Makulilo’s investigation of the extent to which CCM has retained control of the country’s security forces and media, among other institutions, inducing them respectively to lend their aid to campaigning efforts and provide disproportionate coverage to the party’s re-election effort (Makulilo 2012: 100-101). Another opined that CCM’s resources, combined with the poverty of rural Tanzania, made it straightforward for the party to essentially bribe large sectors of the rural electorate into maintaining their support for the party (Interview 5).

CCM’s continuing rural hegemony was noted by multiple interviewees, who realised that it presents a serious electoral obstacle to any would-be opposition, since “the majority of Tanzania’s population lives in the rural areas, and CCM has been dominant in the rural areas – not in the cities” (Interview 1). It should be pointed out that CCM’s rural strength is by no means solely a consequence of sharp practice: rather, it is in large part derived from long tradition and the countryside’s less politically-aware population. In the words of one interviewee, CCM “relies on the ignorance of people,” (Interview 2). Rural voters are often less well-educated than their urban counterparts and are barely aware of the existence of rival political parties. Accordingly, they opt to vote for CCM, the party with which they and their families have been familiar for decades. This tallies with the literary consensus, including O’Gorman’s (2012) recent findings that CCM’s rural support has remained solid – and that the likelihood that rural voters will support an opposition party is positively correlated with their level of education – as well as Makulilo’s (2012: 98) discussion of the voting habits of rural citizens, which holds that their continued support for CCM is a function both of their ignorance of other parties and their desire to continue to back the party which delivered independence and stability.

Scepticism towards Opposition

There was, however, another important factor influencing the interviewees’ belief that CCM’s cause was far from doomed. While there was universal agreement that CHADEMA were the party with the most realistic chance of ousting CCM from power, there was little in the way of positive support for them or for any other opposition party. Indeed, while the fact of their challenge was cautiously welcomed, and they were more liked than CCM, sceptical attitudes to CHADEMA predominated, with concerns expressed about whether they present a viable alternative government. In addition to this, it became clear that some interviewees thought of them simply as ‘the opposition’, with little discussion of any specific policy programme or political leaders: they were considered simply in relation to CCM, rather than as significant actors in their own right.

While interviewees took a jaundiced view of the corruptibility of CCM politicians, opinions as to whether opposition politicians were more to be trusted were mixed: while one interviewee argued that removing CCM from office would see great strides being made in Tanzania’s struggle with corruption (Interview 4), another contended that opposition politicians were very often “just the same” as members of the government in their desire to enrich themselves and their families through politics (Interview 1). This can be related to the earlier discussion of Africa’s history of opposition movements proving, once in government, not to be immune to the corruption which had afflicted their predecessors. The case of Zambia has been referred to before, while another example of this is provided by Ghana, where the NPP unseated the candidate of the ruling party in 2000, before themselves being ejected due in large part to concerns about corruption in 2008 (Whitfield 2009).

Concern was also expressed about the seemingly fluid allegiances of opposition politicians, with multiple interviewees mentioning the fact that a number of opposition figures defected from CCM, either because their ambitions for internal advancement had been thwarted or because they thought they were joining the winning side (Interview 4; Interview 5; Interview 6). For some, this confirmed them in believing that there was in reality little to choose between politicians from different parties (Interview 4; Interview 5). The phenomenon of governmental politicians ‘jumping ship’ and joining opposition parties has been a consistent feature of Tanzanian politics in the multi-party era. When alternative political parties were legalised in the early 1990s, many initial opposition leaders had first achieved prominence as CCM politicians. Most notably, Mrema, whose 1995 presidential campaign for the NCCR presented CCM with its most serious threat until CHADEMA’s recent rise, was a popular government minister until he defected to the NCCR-Mageuzi party (Mwasa and Raphael 2001). This marks another case of a view held by the interviewed population reflecting opinions also identified by an earlier study: Sivalon (1999: 242) found that many rural voters were concerned by the number of opposition figures who had left CCM, and that they were reluctant to support them, fearing that they were actuated by personal ambition.

It should, however, be noted that the perception of defectors from CCM was not entirely negative. One interviewee argued that politicians who left CCM tended to be quite open about the party’s inner workings, thus helping to alert the populace to the extent of political corruption and misrule and performing a valuable public service (Interview 1). Indeed, the interviewee explicitly talked about how such defections revealed things that had been “hidden”, in an echo of Owens’ (2006) discussion of the idea that CCM guards the secrets that underlie its grip on power, and that the party is seriously threatened by public disclosure of its practices.

The only expression of genuine enthusiasm for CHADEMA was primarily associated with the extent to which their rise could be interpreted as symptomatic of a generational change in Tanzanian politics. One respondent spoke about being impressed with how the party was represented by young, hungry and idealistic politicians, adding “I can’t see that in CCM at all” and continuing on to argue that their relative youth and inexperience might mean they were more trustworthy and less corrupted by the political system (Interview 5). No interviewee extolled the party’s policy platform. Indeed, with the exception of some level of belief that CHADEMA would be more serious about tackling corruption than the CCM government (Interview 2), there was little sense that the interviewees were positively embracing CHADEMA at all. More than one interviewee explicitly argued that their support is largely derived from the fact that they are the most prominent opposition party at a time when the government is becoming increasingly unpopular. CHADEMA are gaining from the fact that people are growing tired of the CCM government and are desirous of change (Interview 3; Interview 6). There was no sense that any of the interviewees were specifically enthused by CHADEMA’s policy programme and leadership – two directly admitted that they knew little about what the party stood for[6] (Interview 5; Interview 7) – nor that they believed that many members of the Tanzanian population could be thus described. Another expressed a belief that, in terms of its policy platform, the characteristics of its personnel and its attitude to criticism, CHADEMA was in fact extremely similar to CCM (Interview 6). Even the one interviewee who had supported CHADEMA at the previous election ascribed this decision to a belief that they were best placed to challenge CCM, rather than to any of their policies (Interview 3).

Indeed, despite CHADEMA’s considerable recent progress, discussions of Tanzanian politics were still very much centred on CCM. This can be seen as exemplified by the case of the interviewee who, despite self-identifying as “not very political” and disclaiming support for any political party, had been particularly harsh in criticising CCM, to the extent of identifying them as akin to the Mafia (Interview 5). Once again, the observations made by Sivalon after the 1995 general election – in this case that many voters were not sure what the opposition parties stood for, beyond the fact that they were against the government (Sivalon 1999: 242) – seem to have retained a considerable level of validity seventeen years later. The lack of public knowledge about CHADEMA and other opposition parties can in part be attributed to a lack of coverage in the national media, which pays a disproportionate amount of attention to CCM (Makulilo 2012). This state of affairs can be viewed as a less extreme version of the situation in Uganda, where the ruling NRM uses its stranglehold on the media and resources of the state to deny opposition movements the opposition of publicity (Rakner and van de Walle 2009: 114-115).

One interviewee also argued that one problem with CHADEMA’s suitability as an alternative party of governance was that they played only an insignificant role in politics on Zanzibar (the reverse applies to the CUF, who are partners in the islands’ coalition government but relatively unrepresented on the mainland), expressing concern that the party would, if elected to government, place a lower priority on Zanzibari issues, potentially jeopardising the union. This was seen as very undesirable – “some of us were born as Tanzanians – we want to die as Tanzanians” (Interview 3). This concern for the consequences for national unity should CCM be ousted is again an echo of earlier phenomena in Tanzanian elections. Despite the earlier-discussed diminution in the success of attempts by CCM to brand opposition parties as representing the forces of divisive ethnicity, as identified by Kelsall (2003), appeals to national unity still have some traction for CCM. The interviewee in question was in no sense suggesting that CHADEMA were a tribal party, and had indeed earlier expressed some support for them, albeit tinged with scepticism over whether they were ready for government, describing their tactics as more akin to those of a pressure group than of a government-in-waiting (Interview 3). Nevertheless, the general theme whereby a concern for national unity counts against a full embrace of an opposition movement can be seen as replicated. The potential importance of CCM’s strong presence on both the mainland and the islands should not be forgotten.

More than just CCM? Tanzania’s wider problems

The strength of opposition to CCM specifically – rather than unhappiness at Tanzanian governance in general – should not be overstated. The attitude of the interviewees to the ruling party was dominated by weariness and disappointment, rather than outright hostility. Despite the widespread disenchantment with CCM’s performance in government, it also emerged that several believed the country’s problems to be too institutional and systemic in nature to admit of being straightforwardly solved by a change of governing political party. While agreeing with the consensus that CCM’s governmental record was unimpressive, some interviewees contended that problems often arose when good policies were derailed by the system’s shortcomings leading to failures of implementation: the CCM government’s policies in themselves were not necessarily bad (Interview 2; Interview 6). Another agreed, asserting that many of Tanzania’s problems derive ultimately from the fact that the Tanzanian government is attempting to administer a 21st-century state on the foundations laid by a colonial bureaucracy (Interview 3), and that the party is not responsible for all the country’s problems. This view chimes in with a well-worn and diverse literary tradition which holds that many of the problems confronting African states are at least in part attributable to the difficulty of reconciling administrative structures inherited from colonialism with the political and social realities of modern African societies (Young 1994; Mamdani 1995; Chabal and Daloz 1999; Cooper 2002). The extent to which one electoral transition could remedy this situation was accordingly perceived as limited. Fundamentally, while the governing party was seen as strongly associated with corruption and ineffective administration, the interviewees seemed much more exercised by the need to solve Tanzania’s problems more generally than to replace its government. One went so far as to directly argue that, while Tanzania needed large-scale change, it would not be a problem if that were to happen under the current government (Interview 4). Another said that the only route to meaningful reform would be “when the entire corrupt system is changed” (Interview 5). CCM were, in short, perceived as problematic, but as a part of a larger problem rather than as a blight on the country.

This attitude raises an interesting point: how can the idea that CCM is only part of the problem, and that the real issue is the dysfunctional nature of the Tanzanian state, be reconciled with the umbilical connection between the state and the party discussed earlier? The party has been in power for over fifty years, and the modern state is in a very real sense its creation. Nevertheless, several interviewees distinguished between the two. This study makes no claim to have an answer to this question, but the point is perhaps worth of investigation.


Before embarking on any discussion of the key aspects of the findings outlined above, it is worth reiterating a point made in Chapter 3. The small size and less-than-random nature of the sample population preclude the drawing of any especially firm conclusions from the data. Bearing that caveat in mind, however, some interesting points arise. At the very least, the study can be regarded as raising potentially useful questions, even if it cannot definitively answer any.

Perhaps the single conclusion that can most confidently be reached from this study is that members of the Tanzanian diaspora are both well-informed about and keenly interested in events in the homeland. While they retain a close connection to their homeland, they have no qualms about expressing views far from supportive of CCM. The argument made in the literature that the development of modern technologies of communication has revolutionised the relationship between diasporas and the homeland seems entirely borne out by this data. Indeed, given the proliferation of online sources, the extent to which the interviewees paid attention to Tanzanian affairs, the reduced availability of the internet in the homeland and the attendant fact that members of the homeland population must rely more on the CCM-friendly media, members of the diaspora could possibly be expected to be better informed about Tanzanian political issues than the average Tanzanian resident. At the very least, it is clear that diaspora members represent a valuable potential source of data on Tanzanian political developments. If the difficulties, discussed earlier, surrounding attempts to sample a representative population could be resolved, a larger and more systematic study of this population’s views could yield important insights.

The second point on which the views of the interviewees were in complete agreement was on the performance of the CCM government. All were strongly dissatisfied. The party’s stewardship of the economy was excoriated, and cynical attitudes towards the motivation of politicians predominated. While the interviewees appreciated both Tanzania’s national unity and the level of freedom of expression, their views of the government were dominated more by economic failures and corruption scandals. None were happy with CCM. However, their views of opposition parties and the long-term prospects for Tanzanian politics were more complex. There seemed to be a general feeling that the twin bulwarks of CCM’s powerbase remained intact, and that a combination of rural support and the power of the state might well deliver another election victory in 2015. The interviewees’ focus on the party’s rural base and on the freedom its position of power grants it to suborn opposition and load the electoral playing field tally with accounts of the party’s dominance published throughout the multi-party era (Sivalon 1999; Kelsall 2003; Hoffman and Robinson 2009; Makulilo 2011; O’Gorman 2012). Particularly problematically for the main opposition party, very little positive enthusiasm was displayed for CHADEMA. More often than not referred to as simply ‘the opposition’, there was very little discussion of the policies of this party. It was the target of considerable scepticism, and was not generally viewed as representing a credible alternative government.

Returning to the earlier consideration of this piece of research as a case study of one part of the UK-based Tanzanian diaspora, the first suggested theory was supported: this affluent, well-informed and independent population proved not to be supportive of CCM. The second theory, however, was not. Even this population – profoundly hostile to CCM as it is – believes that the ruling party is unlikely to be ousted from power as soon as 2015. However, to end the discussion of CCM’s prospects on this note would be misleading. While the interviewees were generally pessimistic about the prospects for any opposition takeover at the next election, they tended to predict that, in the medium-to-long term, the trends which had contributed towards CCM’s declining popularity would continue. It is worth noting that none of the reasons given for CCM’s problems were short-term in nature. The global economic crisis was not mentioned, nor was any specific political scandal. Rather, the explanations of popular disenchantment centred on the theme of people, tired of CCM’s long , inefficient and corrupt reign, ‘waking up’ to the alternative possibilities. From the data, there is no reason to expect this process to stop within the next few years. Younger voters with no memory of the Nyerere years will only play a larger role in the years to come, and it is also worth remembering that the constitutional revisions due to come into force after the 2015 election will at last take some steps towards delinking CCM and the Tanzanian state, which in turn will only increase the extent to which the Tanzanian public sphere is becoming more politically open. If this data is believed, CCM’s hold on power is far from doomed, even in the long run. The aforementioned – slightly puzzling – absence of rancour towards the party suggests that, should it manage to institute more successful economic policies and bring corruption under control, it might manage to mount a comeback based on the “lingering attachment of its citizens” (Nugent 2012: 422) illustrated here by the continued pride the interviewees took in Tanzania’s record of ethnic harmony. However, if the trends identified here continue, some reform of this nature is imperative for the party’s prospects. While this study might seem to tentatively suggest that CCM are unlikely to be defeated in the 2015 election, the party should not be in any sense complacent about its future beyond then.


Leave a Reply

(Spamcheck Enabled)


Get the Facebook Likebox Slider Pro for WordPress