Tanzania is one of the few sub-Saharan countries where the standard #adventurous traveller dares to go – of course, to take photos of elephants, zebras and wildcats and/or Mount Kilimanjaro aka Africa’s highest mountain. Surprisingly to the adventurer, local humans have more pressing issues than “wearing colourful dresses” and being “poor yet friendly.”
Tanzania gained its independence from Britain in the 1960s. Democracy didn’t thrive, and the socialist unity party CCM became the only legal party in the 1970s.1 The one-party system ended in 1992 with the first democratic elections held in 1995. Conveniently, the CCM has won all elections since. In the last one, the opposition had something like a chance for the first time – which is not cool with the elected president John Magufuli.
Nowadays, opposition politicians get arrested for offences such as criticising the president (“hate speech”) or questioning official statistics. Magufuli’s government also tries to bribe them into joining the CCM, and those refusing to do so tend to die mysteriously. On top of that, various media outlets have been prohibited and pregnant women as well as underage mothers can’t attend schools any longer.
The growing repression is notoriously bad for the LGBT community. Being gay is punished with at least 30 years in prison, and politicians fighting for LGBT rights are often incarcerated. Moreover, health centres that help people with LGBT concerns are forced to close down which means many gay people lose access to HIV prevention and medication. Earlier this month (Nov 2018), a task force comprising doctors and policemen was created to track down homosexuals in Dar es Salaam. The police use humiliating anal “examinations” to determine whether a person is gay, and torture and rape accordingly.
Magufuli’s presidency is not just marked by a deterioration in human rights but also the economy. Tanzania became popular with donors and investors in the 1990s when it introduced kind of a stable democracy. Foreign direct investments often averaged 4 percent of the GDP and the GDP per capita doubled between 1994 and 2018. The economy grew between 6 and 7 percent throughout the last decade – and the government claims it still does. However, the claim neither seems logical with a government that, for example, threatens businesses with arbitrary taxation nor factual because indicators such as credit growth worsen.
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