Saturday, 16 December 2017

Nyusi’s abrupt visit to Tanzania: Why Security was the main agenda

15 December 2017

Moments after swearing new ministers, Mozambican President Felipe Jacinto Nyusi made an abrupt visit to Tanzania’s capital Dodoma for one-day state visit. President Nyusi sacked four ministers – foreign minister, energy, industry and trade and agriculture in a surprise move a day earlier. He was met and welcomed in Dodoma by his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli and a host of other dignitaries. His visit to Tanzania comes at a time when Mozambique is facing security challenges in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. The Mozambican government, in late November, 2017 ordered the closure of three mosques in the city of Pemba after attacks linked to Islamic extremists. The attacks in October, 2017 saw an attack in police stations in Mocimboa, a town close to the Tanzanian border. The area is close to Tanzania’s natural gas rich towns of Mtwara and Lindi.

Through an official government press release, Tanzania says that Mr. Nyusi’s visit was aimed at strengthening ties between the two countries. Acknowledging the abruptness of the visit, Mr. Nyusi, thanked his host for his welcome and spoke on the main agenda of his visit – which included security (at the border), economic and transport. Speaking in Kiswahili, President Nyusi subtly stressed on the security challenge at the border. “…we have spoken about those that want to destabilize the border, we have been welcomed well and I anticipate President Magufuli’s visit to Mozambique.”
 
President Nyusi received by President Magufuli in Dodoma [Michuzi Blog]
President Nyusi becomes the first head of state to visit the ‘new’ capital Dodoma. Government relocation to the designated capital Dodoma has been one of President Magufuli’s action plans after he was elected president in 2015. On his part, President Magufuli spoke on the enduring relationship between the two countries stressing that his government is committed to deepening trade and economic ties. Thabit Jacob, a scholar on the political economy of extractive resources believes that these ties can be enhanced through recent natural gas boom with both countries planning to build LNG plants in collaboration with international oil companies. “The threat from Islamic militants, and Tanzanian illegal miners in Niassa as well as LNG politics could have motivated the visit of President Nyusi,” observed Thabit Jacob.

What the visit means

Longstanding US diplomatic traditions has seen many American presidents making their first official foreign travels to either Canada or Mexico. Tanzania’s longstanding ties with Mozambique has also seen many Tanzanian presidents making their early official visits to Mozambique. President Magufuli is yet to make an official visit to Mozambique, two years into his tenure. However, it can be read as a mark of enduring Tanzania-Mozambique ties for Nyusi to be the first head of state to visit the ‘new’ designated capital, Dodoma. Dastan Kweka, an East African foreign policy analyst however thinks that Tanzania has often treated Mozambique as a ‘junior’ partner. “When Nyusi was nominated by his party Frelimo as the presidential flagbearer in 2014, he was hosted by President Kikwete in Tanga. Nyusi now followed Magufuli to Dodoma, where he was officiating party and national functions,” observed Dastan Kweka.   


Growing security threats linked to organized militancy within Tanzania (Kibiti) and in Mozambique (Cabo Delgado) means that the two countries can jointly take security measures aimed at thwarting these organized networks. The mode of attacks by these ‘terror’ gangs is similar in both countries. Both in Kibiti and Pemba (Cabo Delgado) these groups are attacking and killing police officers. In response to the attacks in northern Mozambique, President Nyusi sacked the head of intelligence and the army as well as replacing the governor of the northern province of Cabo Delgado. It is thought that President Magufuli replaced the former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ernest Mangu after series of insecurity incidences in the country including the attacks in Kibiti.

Having discussed the common security challenges in the two countries, the discussion from the visit mean that both Tanzania and Mozambique are committed to dealing with insecurity and especially the threat from Islamic militant groups.   


         

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Speculating Magufuli’s absence at Uhuru Kenyatta’s Inauguration

29 November 2017
As I drove on the Thika Superhighway on the weekend before Uhuru Kenyatta’s inauguration on Tuesday, the road was decorated with flags of different countries. At the foot-bridge next to National Youth Service (NYS) Headquarters, the Tanzanian flag flew sublimely. Other flags including the Nairobi City Council flag decorated the Thika Superhighway that headed towards Kasarani, the venue of the inaguration. The Office of the Government Spokesman in Tanzania, had on 24 November issued a press statement saying that President John Magufuli would attend Mr. Kenyatta’s swearing in on 28 November. Days before Mr. Kenyatta’s inauguration, NASA leader Raila Odinga, a close friend to Mr. Magufuli flew to Zanzibar, where it is reported that the two met. Mr. Odinga’s trip to Zanzibar which came a few days after he jetted back to Nairobi from an overseas trip sparked debated and controversy.
President Kenyatta, President Magufuli and NASA leader Raila Odinga
On the inauguration day, Tanzania’s State-House issued a press release saying that Vice President Mama Samia Suluhu Hassan had arrived in Nairobi, where she was to represent President Magufuli. Several Kenyan media quickly labeled this as a Magufuli snob of the inauguration. Even before the official statement from the Tanzanian government, there was speculation whether Magufuli would have attended the swearing in. A few weeks back, Tanzania and Kenya had a frosty diplomatic incident. The Tanzanian government had auctioned 1,000 cows that belonged to Maasai pastoralists that had crossed into Tanzania for pasture. Veterinarians in Tanzania earlier in the month of November burned over 6,000 chicks which had been illegally imported from Kenya. Following the auctioning of the cows, President Magufuli made outrageous remarks saying “Tanzania is not a grazing land for cattle from a neighboring country.” This statement was not received well in Kenya. Tanzania-Kenya relations have in the past been frosty and these two episodes in November can explain the relations.

Tanzania politics and the 2017 Kenyan Elections
President Magufuli and Mr. Odinga are close friends since their days as ministers of public works in their respectful countries. Tanzania’s main opposition party Chadema was known to be close to Mr. Odinga’s party ODM. In the elections of 2007 and 2013, Chadema provided campaign support to Mr. Odinga and his party. Tanzania’s ruling party CCM, though not stated outright, has been friends with Kenya’s ruling parties – KANU and Mr. Kenyatta’s party Jubilee. Tanzania’s former president Jakaya Kikwete was seen as a close friend to the Kenyatta government. The defection of Edward Lowassa from CCM to Chadema in 2015 saw Chadema rescind its support for Mr. Odinga. Mr. Lowassa was a close friend to Mr. Kenyatta and Chadema’s retraction from supporting Mr. Odinga and his party ODM was no brainer. As the old saying goes “a friend of my enemy is my enemy” meant that Chadema had to shift allegiances as a party and openly declared support for Kenyatta’s reelection in 2017. CCM as a party remained silent on this. Mr. Lowassa was invited by the Jubilee Party in a number of campaigns in Maasai areas, where he campaigned for Kenyatta.

Tanzanian Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan with President Uhuru Kenyatta
NASA Tallying Center in Tanzania?
During the presidential TV debate, Mr. Odinga was asked to clarify the allegation that his coalition’s tallying center was in Tanzania. During this debate skipped by Mr. Kenyatta, Odinga was evasive and played down the allegation. This episode, though never clarified further pointed to the closeness between Odinga and Magufuli. It was even speculated that President Magufuli was offering some campaign logistical support to Mr. Odinga. Outspoken Kenyan MP Moses Kuria even said that Magufuli was conspiring with Raila Odinga to rig the elections.  It was evident during the campaign season in Kenya that Mr. Lowassa and Chadema were courting Mr. Kenyatta and his Jubilee Party hoping that they would reciprocate in the 2020 elections in Tanzania.

Inauguration Day
After been sworn in, Mr. Kenyatta in elaborate speech said that Kenya would treat citizens from the East African community like Kenyans and that “they will only need a national identification card to travel, work, do business, own property, farm and even marry and settle in Kenya.” As he made this pledge, the television cameras beamed at Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame. If President Magufuli had attended, then the television cameras would have focused on him. Tanzania has been accused of dragging the integration process through restrictive policies. As a Tanzanian who has grown up and lived in Kenya, this promised by Kenyatta was a welcome one. “We only hope that Tanzania would reciprocate,” one of my friends told me. The inauguration was attended by about 47 foreign delegations and heads of states. At the luncheon at State House, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the African leaders where they discussed various bilateral and multilateral issues.


President Kenyatta attended Maguguli's inauguration in 2015
Speculating Magufuli’s absence

Tundu Lissu in Hospital in Nairobi
Images of VP Samia Suluhu Hassan visiting shot opposition MP Tundu Lissu at a Nairobi hospital were released on Tuesday evening after the inaguration. She was, according to the reports conveying greetings from President Magufuli. A Financial Times newspaper report on the shooting of Tundu Lissu was also released on Tuesday. In the report, Lissu blamed president Magufuli, where he alleges that it because of his criticism of his government. Had President Magufuli attended the inauguration, it was expected that he would have visited Lissu in hospital just like the Vice President did. “Greet the president, tell him am thankful,” Lissu told Mama Samia Suluhu. With the FT report, Magufuli’s meeting with Lissu would have been extremely awkward.


VP Samia Suluhu visits MP Tundu Lissu
Lowassa as a special guest
Mr. Lowassa just like former President Kikwete were officially invited to the event. Kikwete through his official Twitter page congratulated Uhuru Kenyatta, but said he was not able to attend due to prior engagement. Having shown support to Kenyatta, Lowassa savored the occasion. He sat together with his wife Regina at the VIP dais smiling and relaxed – maybe praying that Mr. Kenyatta will in 2020 attend his inauguration!  

Magufuli had other ‘serious’ engagements
President Magufuli has recently lamented that being a president is “frustrating.” As he spoke during his abrupt visit at the port in Dar es Salaam, Magufuli decried the lack of will to fight corruption in the country. Since assuming office in 2015, Magufuli has made a handful of international travels with Ethiopia the furthest he has gone. Magufuli may just be consumed by domestic obligations which have curtailed his international travels. His party CCM had just won by a ‘landslide’ in the councilor elections. Maybe he was savoring the ‘victory’ at home. You never know!                

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Comment: The Politics of Party Defection in Tanzania

Political party defection is a sign of unstable party democracy and/or jockeying for political positions. Defections happen from ruling party to the opposition and from the opposition to the ruling party. In African fledgling democracies, party defections are not about ideology or philosophic underpinnings. Party switching in many African states is largely driven by ethno-demographic and religious factors. These factors have also informed political party formation. Party switching is also a strategic political manoeuvring. Despite Tanzania boasting of national parties, political party strength is largely regional. We're now witnessing a surge in party defections from across the parties.

The defection of former PM Edward Lowassa from CCM to Chadema in 2015 was monumental, especially it coming just before a general election. The election season several high-profile defections. Defections from a dominant ruling party like CCM to the opposition is always huge. CCM's single party dominance has continuously been challenged. There has been attempts at opposition unity and we’re now witnessing defections. CCM is also benefitting from defections from the opposition. It has become a show of who can reap more from the defections!

My analysis: This is a sign of dissatisfaction in how parties are being run in Tanzania. It is also an indication that despite CCM's dominance, there is a growing apathy within the party which is causing these defections. With the opposition losing its members through defections, it means there is something wrong in their parties. Despite CCM’ dwindling fortunes, opposition switching allegiances means that it remains a core party whose legacy resonates with the national character of Tanzania.