Political situation meeting: Limited chances of success

16Dec 2021
The Guardian
Political situation meeting: Limited chances of success

PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan is today expected to personally officiate at the start of three days of talks between regulatory agencies of political activities and the civic stakeholders, namely human rights groups and political parties.

Chances of the meeting being showered with success are limited as both sides have demands that are difficult to negotiate, and the weaker party at the negotiating table knows that it has the support of most active voices in diplomatic forums. The regulators have little sympathy for their positions, as only free expression is accepted plus untrammeled counting of votes, whatever are the fears.

While limited democracy has served the country very well, to safeguard and maintain peace and cohesion while a diversity of forces were bent on wrecking it so that there is a roundtable on sharing out power, that position is not easy to sell in global forums. Fortunately the government doesn’t need to convince all and sundry on each forum, but show that it has good intentions in taking some affirmative actions. That is the area that will be discussed if this sphere can be narrowed down for alignment with democracy as such.

On the eve of the talks being opened by President Samia, one noticeable absentee was likely to be the leading opposition party, whose absence in some quarters will be a blessing in disguise. When the president started relating the political atmosphere after coming to office mid-March, and taking fairly cautious steps to disengage the government from excessive control of the media, also permitting indoor political consultations, the leading opposition party shifted gear to constitutional demands, bent on starting demonstrations. This kind of position puts the president under pressure to maintain the status quo.

For one thing, it is arguable if there is still a possibility for the country to conduct peaceful political activities without some key actors going overboard to stick to non-negotiable demands like completing a constitutional review process that the ruling party closed, and has support of its rank and file. Again, there is no discussion whatsoever on policies or strategies for economic growth, only demands about sharing out power whereas Tanzania is organised on a direct constituency electoral format, not via proportional voting where voters pick party candidates listed, as with Special Seats MPs here. That avenue is blocked.

What the sixth phase government is doing is in the right direction, namely removing excessive constraints on the free exercising of expression, and when there is a by-election, fair process and due counting of votes. That has always been the case except in the last civic and then general elections, organised on the basis of an emergency to pursue major tasks of national development without being disoriented by those who hanker after power by all means. Most of these projects are in safe hands but that doesn’t mean the government can throw caution to the winds, allow untrammeled political action, cut presidential powers and let chaos reign. This is what was happening prior to late 2015.

Top Stories