Tanzania MPs grant government sweeping powers over political parties


Tanzania's President John Magufuli addresses a news conference during his official visit to Nairobi, Kenya ...
Tanzania's President John Magufuli addresses a news conference during his official visit to Nairobi, Kenya October 31, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

In Summary

  • Tanzania’s parliament passed amendments to legislation that give sweeping powers to a government-appointed registrar over political parties
  • The amendments give a government-run registrar sweeping powers to de-register parties and provide for up to a year in jail for anyone engaging in unauthorized civic education
  • Opposition says the move will cement “one-party rule”.

Tanzania’s parliament passed amendments to legislation late on Tuesday that give sweeping powers to a government-appointed registrar over political parties, a move that opposition legislators say will cement “one-party rule”.
President John Magufuli’s government has already banned some newspapers, restricted opposition rallies and detained dozens of their members which, along with repeated state intervention in key sectors like mining and agriculture, have dimmed investment in the region’s third-biggest economy.

The amendments give a government-run registrar sweeping powers to de-register parties and provide for up to a year in jail for anyone engaging in unauthorized civic education – for example, a voter registration drive.
Critics say the amendments will sharply curb freedoms in the East African nation and prevent an effective challenge to Magufuli and the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party in next year’s general election and this year’s local elections.

Opposition leaders said the legislative changes would effectively criminalize political activity and turn Tanzania into “a de facto one-party state”.

“You can’t have a constitution that allows freedom of association then give someone powers to revoke that freedom of association,” Zitto Kabwe, the leader of the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party, said in parliament late on Tuesday after unsuccessfully seeking a court injunction to try to block parliament from passing the law.

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