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Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution and law provide citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: Senate elections were held in 2014. While turnout nationwide at 25 percent was low compared with the 2005 and 2011 general elections, because voting was postponed multiple times due to the Ebola outbreak, it was comparable to turnout for the 2011 constitutional referendum. Only two of 12 incumbent senators retained their seats, and most formal electoral process complaints were resolved through the National Elections Commission or, if appealed, by the Supreme Court. At least two cases were still pending at the Supreme Court. International and national observers declared the elections free, fair, transparent, and credible despite some minor irregularities.

Participation of Women and Minorities: Some observers believed traditional and cultural factors limited women’s participation in politics compared to men. Women participated at significantly lower levels than men in voting and as party leaders, civil society activists, and elected officials. According to the Liberia Electoral Access and Participation survey, of registered voters, 43 percent fewer women than men voted in the 2014 Senate elections, and women were 26 percent less likely than men to be registered and vote in the Senate elections. Overall, 25 percent fewer women than men said they were engaged in campaign activities. Although female candidates continued to compete against men at the same proportional levels, the number of women elected to office declined. After the 2011 elections, the percentage of women representatives dropped from 12.5 percent to 9.6 percent and in the Senate from 13.3 percent to 10 percent. During the year there were four women in the 20-member national cabinet, three women in the 30-seat Senate, and nine in the 73-seat House of Representatives. Two female associate justices sat on the five-member Supreme Court. Women constituted 33 percent of local government officials and 13 percent of senior and deputy ministers.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law does not provide explicit criminal penalties for official corruption, although criminal penalties exist for economic sabotage, mismanagement of funds, bribery, and other corruption-related acts. Corruption persisted throughout the government, and the World Bank’s most recent Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected that corruption was a serious problem.

Corruption: Some officials engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Low pay for civil servants, minimal job training, and little judicial accountability exacerbated official corruption and contributed to a culture of impunity. The government dismissed or in some instances suspended officials for alleged corruption and recommended others for prosecution. On May 11, Global Witness released a report that alleged several serving and former senior officials of the government received L$95 million ($1.1 million) in bribes from British firm Sable Mining to obtain an iron ore concession. On May 12, the president appointed a special task force led by Minister of State Without Portfolio Jonathan Koffa to investigate the allegations and recommend prosecution if warranted. On May 25, Speaker of the House of Representatives Tyler and Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman were indicted for bribery, criminal conspiracy, economic sabotage, solicitation, and facilitation, based on recommendations by the special task force. In September controversy regarding the indictment led to Tyler’s removal from office.

Corruption persisted in the legal system. Some judges accepted bribes to award damages in civil cases. Judges sometimes solicited bribes to try cases, release detainees from prison, or find defendants not guilty in criminal cases. Defense attorneys and prosecutors sometimes suggested defendants pay bribes to secure favorable decisions from judges, prosecutors, and jurors. Corrections officers sometimes demanded payment to escort detainees to trial.

Police corruption was a problem. The LNP investigated reports of police misconduct or corruption, and authorities suspended or dismissed several LNP officers. For example, in February the LNP suspended eight officers from the Criminal Services Division and requested the Ministry of Justice investigate their alleged facilitation of armed robbery. The case was pending with the Ministry of Justice at year’s end. In June, LNP authorities dismissed, arrested, and jailed an officer for allegedly taking more than L$1.5 million ($16,725) from 20 individuals as “rent payments” and in September dismissed two officers and suspended seven others for various acts, including extortion and harassment of members of the public.

Financial Disclosure: By regulation senior officials must declare their assets before taking office. There are administrative sanctions for noncompliance.

Public Access to Information: The law provides that the government release upon request information not involving national security issues. Some transparency advocates stated the law did not provide citizens adequate access to verify the proper spending and accounting of government funds.

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A number of domestic and international human rights groups operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials were generally cooperative and responsive to their views, although sometimes slow to act on requests for assistance on investigations associated with the prosecution of individuals who committed atrocities during the civil war.

Government Human Rights Bodies: The Ministry of Justice Human Rights Protection Division convened monthly coordination meetings that provided a forum for domestic and international human rights NGOs to present matters to the government, including proposed legislation. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) acted as an independent check on the actions of the government in line with its mission to monitor human rights violations in the country. Its work plan included the Palava Hut mechanism, through which community members came together in their towns and villages to discuss grievances and seek reconciliation at the community level. The mechanism was launched in 2012 but remained in the development process with limited geographical reach. During the year the INCHR revamped its operations, including development of a new strategic plan of action, appointment of new staff and human rights monitors, and revitalization of the Palava Hut process.


Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution provides citizens the ability to participate in public elections, but it allows parliament to restrict this right if a citizen is a citizen of another state, mentally infirm, convicted of certain criminal offenses, or omits or fails to prove or produce evidence as to age, citizenship, or registration as a voter. Citizens exercised that ability for the union presidential elections. The chairperson of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced he had nullified the October 2015 Zanzibar elections; new elections in March were neither inclusive nor representative.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: In October 2015 the country held its fifth multiparty general election in which voters elected a new president and legislative representatives. The union elections were judged to be largely free and fair. The CCM, however, benefited from vastly superior financial and institutional resources.

In the presidential election, John Magufuli, the CCM candidate, was elected with 58 percent of the vote to replace Jakaya Kikwete, who was not eligible to run for a third term. Four opposition parties combined in the Coalition for the People’s Constitution to support a single candidate, who ran under the Chadema banner, as the law does not recognize coalitions. In parliamentary elections the CCM retained its majority in parliament with nearly 73 percent of the seats.

Separate elections are held for the union and for Zanzibar, ordinarily on the same day, in which citizens of the two parts of the union elect local officials, members of the national parliament, and a union (national) president. Additionally, Zanzibar separately elects a president of Zanzibar and members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives. The voting in Zanzibar in October 2015 was judged to be largely free and fair. Following the vote, however, when tabulation of the results was more than half completed, the chairperson of the ZEC announced he had nullified the Zanzibar elections, although according to the constitution and law, the commission does not have the authority to do so. This decision precipitated a political crisis in the semiautonomous archipelago, with the opposition candidate declaring he had won. New elections in March were neither inclusive nor representative. They were boycotted by the opposition, which claimed they would not be fair. Following the new elections, the ZEC announced President Shein had won with 91 percent of the vote, with the ruling CCM party sweeping nearly all seats in the Zanzibar House of Representatives. Official voter turnout was announced at 68 percent, although numerous sources estimated actual turnout at closer to 25 percent.

From February to August 2015, officials conducted national registration of voters using a Biometric Voter Registration system that collected a photograph and two thumb prints. Registration concluded with 22,751,292 eligible voters registered on the mainland and 503,193 registered in Zanzibar.

Political Parties and Political Participation: The constitution requires that persons running for office must represent a registered political party. The law prohibits unregistered parties. The number of political parties with full registration remained at 22 during the year.

The registrar of political parties has sole authority to approve registration of any political party and is responsible for enforcing regulations on registered parties. Parties granted provisional registration may hold public meetings and recruit members. To secure full registration, parties must submit lists of at least 200 members in 10 of the country’s 31 regions, including two of the five regions of Zanzibar. In September the registration of new political parties was suspended indefinitely for lack of funds, according to the registrar.

The law requires political parties to support the union between Tanganyika (mainland Tanzania) and Zanzibar; parties based on ethnic, regional, or religious affiliation are prohibited.

During the year the president stated political activity should be confined only to parliamentary business and interaction between members of parliament and their constituents until the next election cycle in 2020. On May 7, police barred a group of political opposition leaders from entering their party regional offices, on the grounds that no political activity was allowed to take place in the region. On June 7, the TPF banned indefinitely all political rallies across the country, claiming such meetings were intended to incite civil disobedience. On August 23, the inspector general of police extended the ban to include indoor private meetings and public rallies; the indoor restriction was lifted on September 22.

The election law provides for a “gratuity” payment of TZS 235 million to TZS 280 million ($108,000-129,000) to MPs completing a five-year term. Incumbents can use these funds in re-election campaigns. Several NGOs and opposition parties criticized this provision for impeding aspiring opposition parliamentary candidates from mounting effective challenges.

The mainland government allowed political opponents unrestricted access to public media, but the ruling party had far more funding to purchase broadcast time.

Participation of Women and Minorities: Some observers believed cultural constraints limited women’s participation in politics. In the October 2015 election, Tanzania elected a woman as vice president for the first time. Few women won elected constituent seats in parliament or in the Zanzibar House of Representatives. There were special women’s seats in both parliament and the Zanzibar House of Representatives.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

While the law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Corruption was generally perceived to be rampant at all levels nationwide. After taking office, President Magufuli took several high-profile steps to signal a commitment to fighting corruption. These included surprise inspections of ministries, hospitals, and the port of Dar es Salaam, often followed by the immediate dismissal of officials. The 2016-17 fiscal year budget, however, included a substantial cut to the funding for the Office of the Controller and Auditor General, one of the country’s two main anticorruption bodies.

Corruption: According to the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), most corruption investigations concerned government involvement in mining, land matters, energy, and investments. Through June the PCCB reported it had opened 412 new investigations and forwarded 133 case files to the director of public prosecutions for action. There were 232 new cases filed and 509 cases underway in court. Two hundred ninety-four cases were concluded, with 125 convictions and 152 acquittals. According to Afrobarometer findings for 2014-15, the most corrupt entities were the police, Tanzania Revenue Authority, courts, and local government. NGOs reported that allegations of corruption involved the Tanzania Revenue Authority, local government officials, police, licensing authorities, hospital workers, and the media.

In February the remaining portions of prison sentences of the former ministers for finance and for energy and minerals convicted in 2015 on corruption charges were reduced to community service.

Corruption featured in newspaper articles, civil complaints, and reports of police corruption from the PCCB and from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The PCCB’s mandate excludes Zanzibar. In Zanzibar the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Authority received 56 complaints, 37 of which were under investigation.

Financial Disclosure: Government ministers and MPs, as well as certain other public servants, are required to disclose their assets upon assuming office, annually at year’s end, and upon leaving office. Although penalties exist for noncompliance, there was no enforcement mechanism or means to determine the accuracy of such disclosures. The Ethics Secretariat distributes forms each October for collection in December. In May the minister of state responsible for the central establishment in the President’s Office reported 1,081 public officials–up to the level of government ministers–did not submit their wealth declaration forms by the end of 2015. Secretariat officials previously stated the individuals who failed to meet the deadline were asked to show cause for the delay. Any declaration forms submitted or filed after the deadline must explain the failure to observe the law. Asset disclosures are not public. In February the president issued an ultimatum to four ministers and one deputy minister to submit their declaration forms in one day or be fired.

Public Access to Information: In September parliament passed the Access to Information Act, establishing the right of citizens to access government information. Stakeholders publicly raised concerns about the law’s potential impact.

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A variety of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials generally were cooperative and responsive to their views. Some human rights NGOs complained of a negative government reaction when they challenged government practice or policy.

Government Human Rights Bodies: The union parliamentary Committee for Constitutional, Legal, and Public Administration is responsible for reporting and making recommendations regarding human rights. The new committee formed since the 2015 elections retains a majority of members from the ruling CCM party.

The Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance operated on both the mainland and Zanzibar; funding levels limited its effectiveness. The commission has no legal authority to prosecute cases but can make recommendations to other offices concerning remedies or call media attention to human rights abuses and violations and other public complaints. From January through June, the commission investigated 7,672 complaints, of which 375 were new. Of the complaints, 844 involved misuse of authority, 652 involved not having received benefits, and 582 covered employment and disciplinary issues. A total of 242 complaints were closed: 50 were justified/successful, 25 were not justified/not successful, 20 were directed to other authorities after investigation, 92 were outside the jurisdiction of the commission, and 55 were declined for various reasons, including lack of cooperation from complainants.

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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future