Tanzania: From Europe’s darling to international embarrassment, “skunk of the world”

President John Magufuli - FILE PHOTO

LIKE never before, the world is against Tanzania. Why? Because Tanzania has turned its back against human rights. In Nelson Mandela’s words in his reference to Apartheid South Africa – the same words often used by Tundu Lissu, Tanzania’s “living miracle” and one of hundreds of victims of the country’s despotic politics – this East African country has deliberately turned itself into a ”skunk of the world.”

Under President John Magufuli’s three-year leadership, democracy has no place in Tanzania’s politics. He does not believe in debates. He never tolerates criticism. He even does not respect his own policies when they contradict his own feelings. He solely trusts, and relies on, his impulses; and he uses police and army to implement his wishes.

His best allies in leadership are not the best analytical brains around him but his hand-picked surrogates, many of whom are increasingly becoming formidable demagogues.

Behaving like an omnipotent and imperial president, Magufuli is instilling fear into everybody. On several occasions, he has reprimanded his vice president and prime minister in public.

His has spread his dictatorial tentacles to parliament and judiciary, attempting to erode a little independence there is in those two pillars of state. As a result, using the majority of his ruling party’s legislators, the parliament has become the president’s rubber stamp on many issues of national interests.

He has turned his country’s once vibrant media into a cheer-leading propaganda machinery. In the past three years, the civic space has been fast shrinking but for himself.

Employing police and “unknown people” to carry out abductions, arbitrary arrests and prosecutions, shootings and killings, he has intimidated the opposition, civil societies, academicians, businessmen, and even vocal religious leaders.

At a time when he thought almost everybody and every institution in the country had submissively cowed in fear of his iron fist, expecting no challenge at all, international pressure surprised him.

Through his authoritarian, strong-man, and brutal politics, Magufuli has brought upon himself and his country and unnecessary international embarrassment that should have been avoided had he listened to opposing voices. Surprisingly, he is blaming the opposition for the mess he has put himself in.

DEUTSCHE WELLE gives a more elaborate narrative of what has been happening in recent days, and why Magufuli and his government have become the “skunk of the world.”


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