Since Tanzania gained independence in 1961, the country’s political landscape has been dominated by one party – Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) – which has won the past five general elections since the re-introduction of multiparty politics in 1990. CCM has largely achieved this feat through the powers of incumbency, combined with the ability to utilise state resources and assets, a weak opposition, and continued high support in rural communities (MG Africa, 19.10.2015).

While Tanzania has witnessed some sporadic election-related violence, the country’s overall political environment is largely peaceful. Importantly, the consistently defeated opposition has refrained from inciting riots or political violence in the wake of repeated failed election attempts.

However, when assessed more closely, Tanzania’s political environment suffers from a series of complicated issues. Political opposition parties report regular incidents of harassment, intimidation and restrictions on their activities by both the ruling CCM and other state institutions, including the police and the judiciary.

This narrative does not apply to the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar, which has suffered from a long history of controversial and sometimes violent elections.

Impact Points

  • Over the past three decades, Tanzania’s political landscape has been dominated by the ruling party’s desire to remain in power. They have achieved this largely through the powers of incumbency and with the ability to utilise state resources, institutions and assets.
  • One particular tool that has been utilised to secure the ruling party is the intimidation and harassment of opposition politicians, activists and supporters.