What you need to know:
- Along with freedom, democracy is also measured by looking at the level of rule of law in the respective country and how everyone is responsible for obeying the law regardless of their status in the society.
On July 1 this year we celebrated 30 years since the re-establishment of the multiparty system in the country. It’s been a long time. If it is human life, this is the age of an adult who probably already has a family and is fully independent. It is a good time to look back and measure the success achieved in our democracy and its contribution to economic, social and cultural development.
The first step in measuring the success of something is to see if that thing has succeeded in continuing to exist. Even in war the most important thing is to ensure that the army does not lose soldiers. Presence is the first measure of success. 10 parties obtained permanent registration between July 1, 1992 and November 24, 1993. The very first party to obtain permanent registration was CCM. It was duly registered on July 1, 1992.
Other five parties followed six months later, obtaining their registration on January 21, 1993. These parties are CUF, Chadema, UMD, NCCR-Mageuzi and NLD. Until the first multiparty election was held in 1995, we had 11 permanently registered parties. According to the information available on the website of the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties, we currently have 19 permanently registered political parties.
The most recent party to be registered is ACT-Wazalendo which was registered on May 5, 2014. Therefore, in terms of existence, we can say that the multiparty system has managed to stay alive for the entire period of 30 years, save for some few political parties that were deregistered such as the TPP. The second area in evaluating the success of the 30-year multiparty political system in the country is the level of competition between political parties. Usually, political success is ultimately measured by looking at numbers.
Politics is mathematics.
The importance of a party in the political process in any country is ultimately measured by looking at the degree to which the party participates in decision-making through decision-making bodies. These bodies are the government, parliament and civic councils. Considering this criterion, it is clear that the success of the multi-party system in this areais very small.
This is because in all the elections one party, CCM, continued to win at all levels of the General Election to the extent that it gained the mandateto make decisions without relying on the participation of other parties. For example, leaving aside the fact that CCM managed to win the presidential position in all elections, in the parliamentary elections, since the beginning of the multiparty elections, CCM has never won less than two-thirds of the parliamentary seats.
Only in two elections (out of six) did CCM get less than 80 per cent. These are; the 2010 election where CCM got 79.1 per cent of parliamentary seats and in 2015 when CCM got 73.6 of all parliamentary seats. In all other elections CCM got the following percentages: 1995 (80.2%), 2000 (87.1%), 2005 (88.8%), 2020 (95.6%). Therefore, in all the 30 years of the multipartysystem, only one party (CCM) has had all the powers to make decisions in the mostimportant law making organ inTanzania, namely the Parliament.
That is to say, based on this criterion, we can say without a doubt that our multi-party systemis not growing, but has stagnated! In addition, based on this criterion, during this period CCM has continued to flourish politically. This can be interpreted that CCM has continued to provide the best policies and leadership compared to other parties and is probably the main reason why the people continued tochoose it with such a large number of votes.
The third area in evaluating the development of the multiparty system in the country is to look at the rate of growth of democracy. The word democracy has many interpretations. The most basic interpretation of democracy is to look at the concept of democracy in the context of seeing it as a tool to protect freedom. Freedom is a very important ‘commodity’ for humans and one of the criteria that distinguishes us humans from other animals.
There are three main types of freedoms. First, it is the independence of the country; that is, the ability of citizens and the country itself to plan their own lives, governing themselves without interference from another country or another person. This is the freedom we fought for from the colonialists. The second freedom is the freedom not to be bothered by hunger, disease and ignorance.
This is the freedom that is obtained through economic emancipation. The third freedom is freedom of assembly; freedom of expression; and the freedom of citizens to participate in decision making on issues that touch their lives in accordance with existing laws.
Along with freedom, democracy is also measured by looking at the level of rule of law in the respective country and how everyone is responsible for obeying the law regardless of their status in the society. In addition, another criterion for measuring the development of democracy is to look at the growth rate of democratic culture. Democratic culture is manifested where individuals in the society are able to differ in opinions and perspectives without disrespecting each other or quarrelling.
This culture is the one that can finally lead to the formulation of alternative policies and strategies in response to challenges facing the society. It is clear that there are still many challenges in achieving a satisfactory level of democracy building. This is manifested by two major factors.
First, it is a fact that a democratic culture has not yet been well established considering that the freedom to express opinions without fear has not flourished due to legal and cultural restrictions. Our society is built on the foundation of going with the majority and respecting everything that is said by elders and those in positions of power such as parents, teachers and leaders. This culture has created fear of going against the ideas of other people, especially leaders. Second, there have been complaints by the Opposition for many years about the imbalance in the political field between the ruling party and the opposition parties.
Opposition political parties believe that they have been on the receiving end of the law enforcement and security organs, especially considering that the heads of all these organs are appointed by the President who has been one of the candidates in various presidential elections.
It is in this context that we have to pay special attention to the article of President Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, which was published on July 1, 2022 in various newspapers. In this article the President explained her leadership philosophy carried by 4R (Reconciliation, Resilience, Reform and Rebuilding).
In the context of this article R of Reform has a special importance. The President has clearly explained about her intention to usher in reforms in political, economic and electoral laws. In addition, the President has clearly stated that her goal is to see that there is fair political competition that gives citizens the opportunity to choose the leaders they want. It is clear that for insisting on reforms in the political and economic systems and electoral laws President Samia agrees with the importance of the new Constitution.
This is not only evident in her feature article but also in the truth that she got the privilege of serving as the Vice Chairperson of the Constituent Assembly in 2014. It should be remembered that the issue of a new Constitution has existed since the time of the multiparty system debate. It came out strongly for the first time in the Judge Francis Nyalali Commission, which gathered opinions about the appropriate political system for the country.
In addition, the Nyalali Commission recommended the enactment of new electoral laws so as to give all political parties equal opportunity to conduct political activities. These recommendations were not fully implemented by successive administrations. PresidentMwinyi implemented one major proposal; he accepted the re-introduction of plural politics but ‘put aside’ the writing a new Constitution.
It was President Jakaya Kikwete who, ultimately, signaled to writing of a new constitution. However, this process did not come to an end and has remained in progress until today. President Samia’s article brings hope that during her term in office there is a high possibility that the Draft of the new Constitution will be completed. In addition, it is clear that there is a high possibility that the major complaints of the opposition parties regarding the unfair playing field in politics will be worked upon during President Samia’s leadership. Let’s continue to pray for President Samia Suluhu Hassan so that God may continue to give her good health in carrying out her good work for our country.
Prof Kitila Mkumbo is Ubungo MP and ex-minister