Tyranny is Back in Tanzania
…and it’s led by a woman!
So, here we are, end of July 2021, barely 4 months into Samia Suluhu’s presidency, and tyranny is back. Chadema leader Freeman Mbowe is once again in prison, this time on trumped up terrorism charges. Rattled by the popularity of the “Katiba Mpya” movement, Samia Suluhu abused her presidential power to “make this problem go away”. Surprise, shock, disappointment; as Fatma Karume very succinctly put it: it turns out she is not the kindly, gentle, caring mother everyone thought, but a wicked stepmother.
But this is beyond the public perception of Samia Suluhu. Having been in power since independence, having relied more and more on misleading, lying, cheating, and abusing power to stay in power, as well as never having had to improve through competition, CCM had lost the ability to formulate and implement any meaningful economic, political or social agenda. It had lost the capacity to identify, attract, retain and advance real talent. Thus, it failed to recognize the weaknesses and shortcomings of Magufuli and gave us a terrible government - the worst in our history. Magufuli, then further gutted, twisted and dumbed down the party. And Samia Suluhu is a product of CCM through and through. She was part of a nasty, incompetent, destructive administration. So, she may believe that she has paid her dues, has been prepared and tested, but she hasn’t; the game had been rigged and the lessons had been wrong. What she doesn’t understand is that having excelled at playing rigged games of checkers does not make her a chess grandmaster.
Proof: at the first sign of trouble, she broke the law. She apparently lacks the integrity and moral character to refrain from taking the easy, illegal way out and lacks the competence to find an intelligent solution to a political problem. More importantly, she lacks the insightfulness to recognize, post-Magufuli, the crucial need to uphold and to be seen to uphold the rule of law and not to misuse public institutions. To the disappointment of many, she did exactly what Magufuli would have done: the wrong thing. She made this decision because she does not know better, because she equates having made it to the top with having been proven competent. This is a completely false narrative. The fact is that she and CCM are in power because of massive election rigging, intimidation, and violence. And this remains a stubborn fact, even with the passing on of Magufuli and Samia Suluhu’s initial pleasant demeanor.
Let me add in another important factor, which is “the economy, stupid!”. By the time COVID19 hit, our economy had been in crisis. The pandemic only added to and exacerbated the problem and now we have a catastrophe. Surprise, surprise, Magufuli & Co. including Samia Suluhu, had completely mismanaged and derailed the economy, much as their deranged approach had been the wrong response to the coronavirus emergency. But Suluhu and her administration have no solution, they only perceive from this disaster that tax revenues have dwindled and therefore the need to introduce new exorbitant levies. I mean, really! Seriously?! Question to the regime: pray tell how is extorting new taxes from a population already in economic distress going to lead to economic recovery? And their “brilliant” answer to public outcry: rename the levy “patriotic” and brand anyone who complains about it a traitor. This cheap trick isn’t working anymore, as majority of Tanzanians have simply stopped using mobile money transactions or found a way to circumvent it.
Anyway, the short and the long of it: neither Samia Suluhu nor CCM can lead us out of the calamity we are in. Things will only go from bad to worse. So, she can either let us seek, in peace, alternative ways out of this conundrum or try and beat us into submission. I really hope that she will choose the former because the latter will inevitably, and at this point very much sooner rather than later, lead to an uncontrolled emotional violent eruption that will not bode well for the country. And on that day, God help us all.