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Tanzania November 18, 2019
Country Reports

Status Index
(Democracy: 3.0/ Market economy: 2.1)
5.1 Management Index 5.6
System of government Presidential democracy Population 35.6 mill.
GDP p. c. ($, PPP) 520
Voter turnout 84 % Unemployment rate n/a
Women in Parliament 22.3 % HDI 0.440 (2002)
Population growth a) 3.0 % UN Education Index 0.61
Largest ethnic minority High fragmentationb Gini-Index 38.2 (1993)
Data for 2001 – if not indicated otherwise. a) Annual growth between 1975 and 2001. b) Of these 120 ethnic groups, only five comprise more than 1 million people; the largest is the Sukuma with about 5 million, or between 13-15 % of the population. Source: UN Human Development Report 2003; EIU Country Report, Feb. 2003; EIU Country Profile 2002.

1. Introduction


The evaluation of transformation in Tanzania is complicated by the political partition of the United Republic of Tanzania (the Union) into the Tanzanian mainland (formerly Tanganyika) and the two semiautonomous islands of Zanzibar (Pemba and Unguja), which have their own constitution, parliament, government and budget. Developments have unfolded quite differently in the two parts of the country. On the mainland, the one-party system gave way quite peacefully to a multiparty system, although the former single party, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), clearly controlled and dominated the process and has faced hardly any serious challenges from the new opposition parties. In Zanzibar, transformation was marked by violent clashes and the sustained repression of one opposition party, which was twice denied victories won at the polls.


As a result, this assessment arrives at conflicting conclusions: While the mainland can be described as a defective democracy or a hybrid regime, an authoritarian regime persists in Zanzibar despite liberalization, which necessarily reflects negatively on the overall evaluation. It should be kept in mind, however, that barely 3 percent of the total population—less than half the population of the capital Dar es Salaam—lives under this authoritarian regime.


During the period under study, the mainland saw stabilization and some movement toward liberal democracy, although the mass media, and particularly radio, generally retain a distinct bias in favor of the governing party. In the same period, two opposite trends developed in Zanzibar. Violent incidents between police and opposition followers increased until the election in 2000 and escalated further after its disastrous outcome, sending a flood of more than 2,000 refugees to Kenya. The violence began to subside in early 2001 after talks between the opposition and the government began, and gave way to a peaceful conflict resolution process that included a proposal for a new partial election.



2. History and characteristics of transformation


The political transformation in Tanzania was initiated by the government after an internal dispute among the elite and controlled from above. This first phase of liberalization and democratization ended in 1995 when the established practice of single-party elections yielded to the first multiparty elections after more than 30 years of one-party rule. As this process unfolded, opposition voices in the party system and civil society were weak at first, but grew more organized and articulate in their demands as the top-down liberalization continued.


A presidential commission appointed in 1991 advocated introducing a multiparty system early in 1992; even though over 80 % of more than 30,000 citizens polled at the time expressed support for one-party rule, a majority favored for more participation in the one-party system. Since the first multi-party elections in 1995, internal fragmentation has only weakened the opposition further, as shown by the former state party’s convincing two-thirds majority win in the 2000 elections, which were significantly better organized outside of Zanzibar.


The economic transformation of the formerly socialist-oriented, state-controlled economy began in 1986 with the first IMF structural adjustment program, but implemented only erratically until the mid-1990s. Market reforms were pursued more consistently after 1995 under the Mkapas government. Since then, progress has been made in privatizing state enterprises, despite lingering resistance, and in deregulating the economy, and the rate of inflation has been markedly reduced.


No severe economic crises have complicated Tanzania’s journey toward democracy, and in fact the opposite is true. The second half of the 1990s brought relatively favorable growth rates, slowly rising to nearly 5 % and reaching 5.6 % in 2001, despite weather-related slumps in 1997 and other years. Nevertheless, the reforms have fallen far short of overcoming the structural weaknesses of the Tanzanian economy, namely a heavy dependence on development aid and agriculture (much of it at the subsistence level), and a limited diversification of exports. The government’s relatively positive cooperation with the World Bank and the IMF, which has particularly praised Tanzania’s macroeconomic management, yielded a new Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) program in 2000. In 2001, Tanzania qualified for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.



3. Examination of criteria for democracy and a market economy


3.1 Democracy


Tanzania has only made minor advances in transforming its political order, and the minimum standards for democracy have not been met. Shortcomings remain in political participation and representation, the rule of law and good governance. The situation in Zanzibar is particularly problematic, as it ultimately affects the structure of the Union even though social integration and institutional stability continue to prevail on the mainland.



3.1.1 Political organization


(1) Stateness: The state monopoly on the use of force has generally been established nationwide. It is challenged primarily by violent crime; skirmishes arising from socioeconomic conflicts over land and the grazing rights of semi-nomadic groups which are sometimes presented as tribal conflicts; and by spontaneous eruptions of violence and/or over-reactions on the part of the police during demonstrations, although this is mainly seen in Zanzibar. On the mainland, Tanzania does not have a problem with state identity. In a situation nearly unique in Africa, Tanzania has, for the most part, achieved the harmonious social integration of its different ethnic groups. Defining citizenship and who qualifies as a citizen is not a politically relevant issue, and questions arise only in terms of the relationship between the mainland and semi-autonomous Zanzibar.


The Zanzibari opposition has launched an effort to achieve a greater measure of autonomy, but this political issue is linked to religious problems. Both government and opposition leaders in in Zanzibar, which is 99 % Muslim, want to join the community of Islamic states, but the secularly-oriented Union government on the mainland, which is one-third Muslim, one-third Christian and one-third practitioners of other, native, religions, has refused.


The separation of church and state is largely assured in Tanzania, but problems arise when Muslims perceive themselves the victims of social discrimination in areas such as access to public office and education. In this context, radical Muslims have increasingly clashed with police and radical Christians in Dar es Salaam. However, a majority of the religious elite, and probably most of the population, is intent on cooperation with the government and peaceful conflict resolution. The state is present with basic infrastructure throughout its territory, though it is weak and often functions poorly. Public safety and order are not assured completely, and basic education and health care systems leave many gaps in coverage.


(2) Political participation: In Tanganyika, government leaders are chosen in general, free, but not entirely fair elections, and compared with the very problematic first democratic elections in 1995, the 2000 elections showed definite improvements. Factors limiting political participation include unequal access to the media, and radio broadcasting in particular; limited distribution of the qualitatively weak press, and police restrictions on rallies and events held by opposition parties.


The elected leaders have full power to govern and the role of the military is muted. Independent political and civic groups—weak even by African standards—can form freely but are occasionally restricted by undemocratic interventions. Freedom of opinion is assured in principle, but media that criticize the government are occasionally subject to retaliatory harassment including intimidation, vandalism of editorial offices, prohibitions on publication, and advertising bans.


Elections in Zanzibar since the transformation have been neither free nor fair, and the government lacks democratic legitimacy. Although opposition parties and civic groups may organize and articulate their interests, they are exposed to state repression, sometimes on a massive scale. Opposition delegates have been arrested and held for years without being charged, many people have been killed during demonstrations, and 2,000 refugees fled to Kenya in 2000. However, the situation improved significantly following the reconciliation agreement of October 2001; repression eased, prisoners were released, and most refugees returned.


(3) Rule of law: The separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches is fundamentally assured, but the executive clearly dominates. The CCM government, despite its absolute majority in parliament, does not always recognize the legislature in its constitutional role; instead, Parliament takes a back seat to party committees, as seen in the debate on the report of the presidential constitutional commission. On the other hand, the Parliament has also decisively voted down bills proposed by the government.


The judiciary functions relatively independently, although it suffers from a significant lack of resources and a very heavy workload. Corruption is a serious problem, virulent at lower administrative levels as well as among government officials. The Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2002 ranks Tanzania 71 out of 102 countries. President Mkapa has spoken very clearly in favor of combating corruption since his election but has taken no vigorous action so far. Nevertheless, every now and then a minister has been forced to resign when accused of corruption. As a result, the nation’s CPI improved somewhat during the period under study: Tanzania earned only 1.9 points in 1998, but rated 2.7 points of a possible 10.


On the whole, however, corrupt officeholders are not adequately prosecuted. Civil liberties are occasionally infringed, especially freedom of assembly and treatment while in police custody; in Zanzibar they are severely limited and sometimes massively violated. Lower courts are seen as corrupt and inefficient, although they too are overburdened because of personnel shortages. Administrative deficiencies in the judicial system limit citizens’ ability to seek redress for violations of basic freedoms. Distrust of the police and legal processes has often led citizens to take the law into their own hands.



3.1.2 Political patterns of behavior and attitudes


(1) Institutional stability: For the most part, the democratic Union institutions on the mainland execute their intended functions. The main reason is that the governing party has an absolute majority in Parliament, and problems primarily result from inefficient administrative systems. In principle, all the relevant actors accept democratic institutions, and there are no strong or specifically anti-democratic veto powers. However, individual state institutions are not always sufficiently accepted by all relevant actors, as even government officials occasionally feel a greater obligation to the former and current state party than to the legislature. This assessment does not apply to Zanzibar, where the government does not accept democratic institutions.


(2) Political and social integration: Tanzania has an essentially stable and quite powerful party system, clearly dominated by the state party, which has garnered more than two-thirds of votes and elected offices. There are few differences distinguishing party platforms, and the opposition is fragmented among five parties in the legislature. These parties are heavily personality-oriented, and the larger ones have been split by internal battles that have repeatedly resulted in membership and leadership realignments.


While the governing party is broadly anchored in society, the opposition parties still show shallow roots and high voter volatility. The landscape of interest groups is sparse. The unions are weak, and though they have managed to free themselves from ties to and dependence on the state party, they cannot yet be considered a fully independent force. Farmers do not have their own political interest group, while cooperatives are discredited and see themselves as purely economic organizations.


The impetus toward self-organization within civil society faces an array of social, economic, political and cultural barriers stemming from unfavorable recollections of the mass organizations in Tanzania’s socialist past. Civil society groups are politically weak but have been able to consolidate themselves, and given the weakness of the political opposition they have a certain importance in public life. Christian churches and church-related organizations, together with the Muslim Council, play a relatively prominent role in this respect, although militant representatives of religious organizations have contributed to mounting tension between religious communities and are directly responsible for violent clashes. Civic organizations are concentrated in the urban centers, where their ambit includes an important monitoring function.


The majority of the population consents to democratic norms and procedures. In 2001, 84 % of the population found democracy preferable to any other form of government, and 63 % were fairly satisfied or very satisfied with the way democracy works in Tanzania, but 39 % still thought Tanzania would do better with a one-party state (Afrobarometer).



3.2 Market economy


Tanzania is one of the world’s least developed countries. It is heavily dependent on foreign aid, the level of development is very low, market competition is limited, and currency and price stability are unsatisfactory. The strength of the national economy fluctuates widely, though it has grown steadily in recent years.



3.2.1 Socioeconomic level of development


The key development indicators show an exceptionally low level of development. In 2000, Tanzania ranked 151 among 173 evaluated countries on the HDI. Social exclusion is quantitatively and qualitatively extensive and structurally ingrained. A high percentage of the population lives in absolute poverty, with 41.6 % below the national poverty line and 59.6 % living on less than $2 (PPP) per day. Tanzanian women live in relative deprivation, rating a rank of 126 among 146 evaluated countries on the GDI, the UNDP’s Gender-related Development Index. Despite comparatively low income disparities, indicated by a Gini index of 38.2 in 1993, Tanzania’s level of development hardly permits even a minimum freedom of choice.



3.2.2 Market and competition


Market competition fundamentals are limited in Tanzania. The informal sector contributes a significant, but difficult to quantify, share of economic activity, and subsistence farming is common in rural areas. Combating monopoly formation is not among the priorities of the economic order in Tanzania, although there are no obvious indications that it should be. Tariffs, down from an average 19.5 % to 14.5 % in 2000, have been reduced substantially but remain high, and together with non-tariff barriers such as inefficient customs and port authorities, they indicate a very high degree of protectionism. However, the extremely dense thicket of regulations governing foreign trade was pruned back considerably under the structural adjustment program.


The privatization of the state bank puts the banking system in the final phase of reform, and the licensing of 23 international banks that are also active elsewhere in Africa represents a positive development trend. The private capital market is exceptionally small with only four companies listed on the stock exchange. The Tanzanian economy ranks as “mostly unfree” on the Index of Economic Freedom.



3.2.3 Stability of currency and prices


The government’s price stability policy shows positive results for the period. Monetary policy is largely controlled by the IMF, and the rate of inflation was reduced to less than 6 %, reaching 4.5 % by the end of 2002, with nearly all price controls lifted. Currency policy has been less successful. Because of a persistent foreign trade deficit and variable international financial transfers (e.g. development aid), the shilling has fallen steadily relative to the dollar, though it began to stabilize in 2000. The government generally exercises strict discipline in its fiscal policy through a cash budgeting system and as a result, the IMF and the World Bank regard Tanzania’s macroeconomic setting for further structural reforms as stable and favorable. The budget deficit remains very moderate, although debt continues to be very high overall at $6.3 billion, or 82.9 % of GDP in 2000, despite a reduction by about 10 % of GDP during the period before 2000.



3.2.4 Private property


Property rights and property acquisition are legally guaranteed in principle, but corruption and inefficiency in the judicial system limit their effective enforceability. A comprehensive program for privatizing state enterprises began in the early 1990s. After a very slow start, the pace picked up during the period under study, and about three-fourths of the 395 state enterprises had been privatized by 2001.



3.2.5 Welfare regime


Because of insufficient financial resources and administrative shortcomings, Tanzania essentially lacks an efficient state network to combat poverty. Its health and education indicators—once relatively favorable for an African country—have long since hit bottom. The negative trend, indicated by sinking life expectancy and school attendance, and a growing illiteracy rate, persisted into the end of the 1990s despite the structural adjustment policy and economic growth. Only the latest reform policy appears to have turned the tide.


Furthermore, the state health care system, like the higher education system, does more for groups that are relatively better off than for the poorest population groups in terms of the allocation of state funds. New efforts were launched under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) authorized in June 2000 and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) signed in 2000 calls for expanded support for both sectors.

Table: Poverty indicators, in percent

Below food poverty linea 
Below basic needsb 

Source: EIU, Country Profile 2002. a Basic food needs of an individual; b covering items in addition to food.



3.2.6 Performance


The GDP posted increasing annual growth rates from 1998 to 2001, at 4.0 and 5.6 % respectively, with the slightly lower rate of 5.2 % expected for 2002. The approved PRGF loans will further support the economy, although Tanzania remains heavily dependent on foreign aid. Price stability was assured, but the current account balance remained structurally negative. The potential of the national economy is relatively low, in part because of climatic conditions and the dominant agricultural sector, to which there is still no alternative despite a booming mining sector which contributes 2.5 % of GDP.



3.2.7 Sustainability


Environmental awareness is minimal, though growing slightly in urban areas. There are no high-quality institutions for education and training or research and development, and even many people who have been to school are functionally illiterate. Tanzania has a rudimentary modern physical infrastructure, and the existing infrastructure is stressed by very heavy use, meaning that new investments such as road rehabilitation are necessary every few years.



4. Evolution


(1) Democracy: In political transformation, slight advances have taken the mainland farther down the path of democratization, but in Zanzibar, it is clear that democracy lost ground as authoritarianism tightened its grip, although a slight turn for the better was noted at the end of the period under study. Tanganyika progressed in political participation with improvements in electoral organization and freedom of opinion and association, and in regard to the rule of law, specifically, in combating corruption. Furthermore, the higher judicial authorities are relatively independent, and the balance of power functions relatively well. In terms of state identity and institutional stability, Tanganyika for the most part maintained standards already achieved. For Zanzibar, increasing polarization and unquestionably disorganized elections set the stage for an escalation of violence, though it ultimately gave rise to a broad-based program of conflict mediation.


(2) Market economy: Although the level of development has not changed substantially, slight improvements should not be overlooked. If the government can stay the course of political reform, further positive development may be built on these achievements.

Table: Development of socioeconomic indicators of modernization

GDP Index 
Gini Index 
UN Education Index 
Political representation of women 
GDP per capita ($, PPP)  
17.5 (1995) 
22.3 (2000) 

Sources: Human Development Report 1999; 2002; a 1997

Table: Development of macroeconomic fundamentals (1998-2002)

Growth of GDP in % 
Foreign trade 
Exports (in million $) 
Imports (in million $) 
Inflation in % (CPI) 
Debt in billion $ 
Debt service ratio 
Current account balance 
in million $ 

Sources: EIU Country Profile 2002; Country Report February 2003; a EIU estimates.


The foundations for a market economy and competition remain inadequate or have improved only slightly. The Index of Economic Freedom for 1998-2002 hovered between 3.2 and 3.4, placing Tanzania in the category “mostly unfree.” In the country rankings, however, Tanzania fell from 84 to 104. This reflected lower ratings for trade, price and wage policy, despite positive marks for the government’s fiscal policy.


At best, Tanzania can be said to have only taken the first steps toward a social market economy, but overall the country’s evolution shows a positive trend.



5. Evaluation of transformation management


5.1 Level of difficulty


Tanzania’s very low level of economic and social development, weak basic market economic structures, very poorly educated populace, scant civic traditions, inefficient state administrative system, and only moderately established rule of law presented extremely adverse conditions for continuing the transformation process at the start of the period under study. On the other hand, positive factors are the very broad support accorded to the government and an absence of serious ethnic disparities, that is, a degree of national identity and integration comparatively high for Africa.


Despite fundamental structural difficulties, this has enabled the government to pursue its transformation strategy with ever-increasing consistency and resolve, especially in the economic arena, and to achieve a measure of stability in—still inadequate—political reforms as it has grown more adept at managing plural institutions. By far the most difficult challenge for the government has been the political confrontation in Zanzibar, a situation rooted in old social and cultural conflicts that forced the issue of the Union and hence the issue of state identity to the foreground. Another indirectly related problem was the growing socio-religious tension and conflict between Muslims and Christians.



5.2 Reliability in achieving goals


The government is clearly continuing to pursue strategic reform goals, particularly in the economic arena but less clearly in democratization. The government did appoint a presidential commission to address a key constitutional reform demanded by the opposition that would amend numerous articles recognized since 1992 as not conforming to democratic principles. Political rationales have, however, taken precedence and few of the proposed reforms have been achieved. The Union government also failed to implement elementary democratic norms in semi-autonomous Zanzibar (e.g. free and fair elections). However, following the escalation of violence in Zanzibar, the government did push harder for a peaceful resolution to the conflict and recognition of democratic rules, although the effort has yet to succeed.


Nevertheless, the economic reform and stability policy earned approval from international financial institutions and donors, although the privatization program and particularly the fight against corruption still elicit criticism. International approval yielded new PRGF programs and full participation in the HIPC debt relief program. Now that the adjustment and stabilization policies have largely met their goals, further reforms, including incisive institutional and financial measures, are seen as critical to Tanzania’s continued development. Fortunately, the government’s reform strategy has found a measure of support seen nowhere else in Africa.



5.3 Effective use of resources


The government does not make efficient use of available human and organizational resources for its transformation policies. It still allows considerable waste of precious public goods, and often lacks sufficiently qualified personnel to effectively utilize economic and political assets. The battle against corruption continues to gain ground, and improvements still fall short of what is needed, although according to the government some corruption investigations are settled by internal administrative procedures without making the cases public.


With the help of a cash budgeting system, the government can relatively effectively control the use of appropriated funds according to budget plans even though all quantitative goals have not been met; however, control is inadequate at the lower administrative levels. A deliberate recourse to cultural heritage as an aide to reform is not evident; indeed, it is questionable whether Tanzania’s agrarian society even has resources of this nature that could be drawn on productively. The cultural legacy of Ujamaa socialism persists as a negative force that imbued Tanzanians with an uncritical and submissive attitude toward the government. By the same token, this attitude affords the government great latitude for reform.



5.4 Organizational capability


The government has maintained its organizational capability. Political leaders are able to learn and have replaced failed policies with innovative ones, albeit often only slowly and cautiously. The government has enough political authority to bring about reforms. It is improving the distributive efficiency of the markets, though slowly and without exerting much energy to eliminate barriers such as the customs and port bureaucracies. As a rule, the government recognizes its opportunities for reform, but it could use them even more effectively in the economic arena and above all in the political arena.



5.5 Consensus-building


Aside from the government in Zanzibar, no important political actor openly opposes the goal of establishing a market-based democracy. However, there are still some politicians in the governing party (primarily Ujamaa ideologues) who are skeptical toward the market economy orientation, and there are naturally different interpretations of what Tanzania’s democracy should look like. But the reformers have been able to control and for the most part integrate all the relevant actors, again, with the exception of the Zanzibari government and party leadership. Thus, the Union government has generally managed to reduce the potential for conflict—even in regard to Zanzibar—and seeks consensus across the lines of conflict on many issues.


Because the one-party regime has tempered its authoritarian rule, reconciliation efforts are necessary in only a very few isolated cases. The military has always been politically integrated and under civilian control.



5.6 International cooperation


The government has worked constructively with bilateral and international donors to institute Tanzania’s transformation to democracy and a market economy. This cooperation intensified somewhat during the period under study, particularly in the economic sphere, and Tanzania’s international partners view the government as reliable and largely predictable. Carrying on a longstanding tradition, the government continues to be active in international affairs such as the Rwanda Tribunal and various international political and economic organizations in south and east Africa, and has sought to deepen its many and varied international cooperative relationships.



6. Overall evaluation


In view of the originating conditions, current status and evolution, and the actors’ political achievements (management), this report arrives at the following conclusions:


(1) Originating conditions: Overall, the starting conditions were negative, framed by extreme poverty and the lack of traditions in the rule of law, civil society and democracy. Education and health care systems, once almost exemplary for Africa, had fallen apart, but despite a highly fragmented landscape of ethnic groups, national identity was strong, and social disparities were less pronounced than in other African countries. After almost three decades of socialist-oriented development policies, the economy featured state enterprises and government regulation, and Tanzania had hardly any market economic structures.


While the political transformation was decisively controlled from within the government and implemented from the top down, it was primarily international pressure, exerted with little effect before the political transformation, that provided the impetus for economic transformation after socialist policies failed. Despite these inauspicious starting conditions, the transformation was ultimately brought about (albeit slowly) in a stable setting and in close cooperation with international actors.


(2) Current status and evolution: The democratic transformation gained very little ground. In the period of this report, political decision-makers managed to cautiously build on the successful first steps toward democratic conditions. However, institutional reforms such as bringing the constitution in line with democratic principles are still proceeding at a snail’s pace, as is the fight against corruption, a blight that considerably impedes effective government.


This assessment applies only to mainland Tanganyika. By contrast, ground was definitely lost in Zanzibar. The government lacks the legitimacy of a democratically elected government, and its repressive behavior has clearly increased. Recent developments indicate a renewed focus on peaceful conflict resolution through international mediation and political pressure from the Union government.


The market economy transformation covered much more ground, having begun as early as the mid-1980s. Since the mid-1990s, political decision-makers have managed to stabilize macroeconomic development and achieve solid growth rates over several years, though still at a very low level. Individual social indicators point to small advances in this area as well, and the latest Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and the associated funding from international financial institutions give reason to hope for further improvements.


(3) Management: The verdict on the actors’ relative management performance is cautiously positive. The process of economic transformation gained purpose and promise during this period, although further, crucial steps toward reform have yet to be taken. The course of democratic transformation was less clear. Apart from the backsliding in Zanzibar, the government gained democratic legitimacy by organizing elections more efficiently, simultaneously improving opportunities for participation among the electorate. In other areas such as the effective rule of law, fighting corruption, and administrative efficiency, only slight improvements were achieved.



7. Outlook


The forces for reform in the government have lost some of their ability to shape the course of democratization but not their commitment to further reform. A stronger impetus can hardly be expected from opposition political parties as they are too weak, and the same is true of forces within civil society. Nevertheless, the government will slowly yield to demands for further reform (such as constitutional reform) in part because of international pressure.


At the present time, a reversal of political reforms already achieved is not expected, and the issue will only arise if the government’s power is actually threatened politically. In regard to the economy, the main task is to eliminate corruption and bureaucratic barriers so that implemented reforms can take hold for the longer term. For the future, democratization in semi-autonomous Zanzibar and the institutional arrangement it reaches with the mainland remain the challenges that will determine the fate of the Tanzanian Union.


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