TANZANIA; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 106
(Senate - June 25, 2018)

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[Pages S4365-S4367]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I rise to call attention to the trend of 
increasing restrictions on basic freedoms in Tanzania, a country that 
appeared to be on a path toward greater democracy and political 
openness. I am deeply concerned about reports of Tanzanian security 
forces' use of repressive laws, decrees, and actions to harass those 
who disagree with the current regime and unattributed attacks on 
democratically elected opposition party officials. I call upon the 
Trump administration to increase its efforts to encourage the 
government of Tanzania to support individual and collective freedoms, 
freedom of expression, and civil liberties. Such norms are the 
hallmarks of a healthy democracy and are among the basic rights and 
duties guaranteed to Tanzania's citizens under their constitution.
  These reports are troubling because, on the whole, Tanzania is among 
the most stable and peaceful countries in the region. Tanzania is a top 

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contributor of personnel to international peacekeeping operations, and 
we honor the sacrifice of the Tanzanian people, who have lost nearly 50 
peacekeepers during these vital missions, including 14 killed in the 
Democratic Republic of Congo. It is one of the leading African 
economies and had the sixth largest GDP in Africa, according to IMF 
data published in April.
  U.S.-Tanzanian ties have, for many years, been cordial, and U.S. 
bilateral aid expanded significantly under the previous two U.S. 
administrations. The U.S. has had a robust development relationship 
with Tanzania, including investments in some of our premier development 
programs, such as Feed the Future, the Global Health Initiative, the 
Global Climate Change Initiative, Power Africa, the President's 
Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief--PEPFAR--and Trade Africa. Since 1962, 
Tanzania has hosted a Peace Corps program. In 2013, Tanzania also 
successfully completed a Millennium Challenge Corporation, MCC, funded 
  Upon taking office in October 2015, President John Pombe Magufuli 
pledged to stamp out public corruption and make his government 
accountable to ordinary citizens, and he has taken some steps to do so. 
He made an unannounced visit to the Ministry of Finance to see civil 
servants at work on his first day as President and redirected funds 
from Independence Day celebrations toward anticholera operations. He 
initiated corruption reviews of the Tanzanian Port Authority and 
Tanzanian Revenue authority, resulting in the dissolution of an 
ineffective board and purging of civil servant rolls of ``phantom 
staff.'' According to AfroBarometer surveys, the government's handling 
of corruption in public office has had a positive impact, reducing 
citizens' perceptions of institutional corruption in key public 
  By many measures, Tanzania is doing fairly well. My purpose is not to 
offer gratuitous criticisms of Tanzania or its people, but to register 
my strong concern that the progress of the last decade and a half in 
the areas of democracy and respect for civil liberties may be 
undergoing a reversal right before our eyes. Tanzania's success in 
advancing economically and politically is what makes the current 
political backsliding so troubling. I fear that while we are all 
rightly focused on the resolving the many crises on the continent and 
around the globe, the gradual downward spiral of respect for civil 
liberties in Tanzania is proceeding unnoticed, unremarked, and 
unchallenged by its friends and partners. As we address crises 
throughout the region and the world, we must also be mindful of the 
maintenance of strong democratic institutions, good governance, and 
accountability which ultimately secure resilient communities.
  The Magufuli Presidency has been marked by three troubling trends.
  First is the rise in recent years in the harassment of opposition 
political figures and restrictions on their activities. In September 
2017, Tundu Lissu, a Member of Parliament--MP--and Parliamentary chief 
whip of the opposition Chadema party was shot by unknown assailants and 
seriously wounded. Lissu, who is also the president of the Tanganyika 
Law Society, is a fierce critic of President Magufuli and his 
government, but also a longstanding critic of corruption who may face 
hostility from many quarters. Lissu has often been arrested for his 
longstanding criticism of the government.
  Other opposition Parliamentarians face police harassment. In late 
September 2017, police arrested a Chadema MP after a party event, and 
at least two other MPs complained that police were prohibiting meetings 
with constituents.
  In February of this year, the U.S. Embassy released a statement of 
concern about the rise in politically related confrontations after 
reports of kidnapping and violence in Tanzania that resulted in the 
death of Daniel John, who was a leader of a local opposition party, and 
the injury of opposition supporter Reginald Mallya.
  Second is closing media space. According to the 2017 World Press 
Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders, RSF, Tanzania 
dropped 12 places between 2016 to 2017 to 83 out of 180. While this is 
the best score in east Africa, RSF stated that the climate for 
journalism ``has not improved since John Magufuli's election.'' 
Tanzania was ranked alongside Turkey, which indicates just how 
significantly Tanzania's democratic space has shrunk under the Magufuli 
regime. Newspapers have faced suspension or other sanction for coverage 
deemed critical of the government. In September 2017, the government 
banned the publication of two newspapers, in one case for 90 days and 
in another for 2 years, and 3 months after another publication was also 
shuttered for 2 years. In January 2018, the Committee to Protect 
Journalists reported that Tanzania's regulatory commission imposed 
fines on five television stations for ostensibly ``broadcasting 
seditious and unbalanced content.'' The stations were fined after 
reporting on human rights abuses by security personnel and unidentified 
assailants during a November 2017 ward by-election.

  President Magufuli signed the controversial media services bill just 
a month into his tenure. The bill replaced independent media oversight 
mechanisms with a government-controlled one, and requires all 
journalists to get accreditation from a government-appointed board. 
This leaves them vulnerable to manipulation and undue pressure to 
provide coverage favorable to the state and majority party.
  In April 2016, then-Information Minister Nape Nnauye ordered a halt 
to live broadcasts of Tanzania's Parliamentary proceedings, denying 
journalists the ability to report accurate information and denying the 
public the right to transparency from their government. In November, 
President Magufuli signed in to law the Media Service Act 2016, which, 
among other measures, requires media houses to ``broadcast or publish 
news or issues of national importance as the government may direct,'' 
effectively giving the government outsize influence in controlling 
media messaging. The government then moved to restrict online content 
when, in September 2017, Tanzania's National Assembly passed the 
Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations. The 
regulations empower the Tanzanian Communications Regulatory Authority 
to monitor and surveil online blogs and internet cafes and ban 
``offensive, morally improper'' content. This restricts debate and has 
a chilling effect on the expression of views critical of government.
  If there is any doubt as to whether the government seeks to control 
the media, we have only to look at what President Magufuli himself said 
in March 2017: ``I would like to tell media owners--be careful, watch 
it. If you think you have that kind of freedom, (it is) not to that 
extent.'' A day later, a rap musician was arrested after he released a 
song deemed insulting to the government. Magufuli's 2017 warning 
followed the late 2016 arrest of a founder of a corruption-reporting 
and whistle-blowing website, Jamii Forums, and a police demand that the 
site reveal its users' names. The website's cofounder was charged on 
several counts of obstructing justice and running an unregistered 
  These and other actions clearly demonstrate a disturbing deliberate 
government effort to censor the press and curtail the constitutionally 
guaranteed freedom of expression of Tanzania's citizens. I was pleased 
to see the announcement that the U.S. Agency for International 
Development or USAID, which supports good governance projects around 
the world, is funding a civil society and media-strengthening project 
that will work with media houses and radio stations in Dar es Salaam, 
Zanzibar, and other areas of the country. I am unconvinced, however, 
that this well justified effort alone will be adequate to address the 
broad range of worrying trends that I have outlined. I would welcome 
additional efforts of a similar nature by USAID and other 
organizations, such as the National Endowment for Democracy.
  The third troubling trend is the closing space for civil society. In 
March, the President promised to crack down on anyone who participates 
in demonstrations deemed illegal by the government, vowing not to let 
his economic reforms be derailed by street protests. The reforms, some 
of which are not endorsed by the International Monetary Fund's most 
recent economic review, include reducing tax evasion,

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halting copper concentrate exports, and banning imports of coal and 
gypsum. Prior to planned antigovernment demonstrations on April 26, a 
senior law enforcement official stated that ``Those who plan to 
demonstrate tomorrow will seriously suffer . . . they will be beaten 
like stray dogs.'' Because the Tanzanian authorities deployed a heavy 
police presence and threatened to use force, the protests failed to 
move forward.
  Magufuli's repression extends to sexual orientation and HIV policies. 
Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania, and homosexuals and transgender 
persons have repeatedly faced threatening comments by government 
officials, as well as police harassment. Under previous Tanzanian 
governments, the country's HIV policies called for dedicated outreach 
to key populations. Such efforts have been halted under Magufuli's 
government. In 2016, the government raided and closed drop-in centers 
and private clinics that provide services to those in the LGBTI 
community, sex workers, and people who use drugs. Several organizations 
reported that the crackdown has resulted in HIV-positive men failing to 
access their antiretroviral treatment, while others no longer access 
testing and preventive services.
  Young women also find themselves under attack, for reasons which 
remain unclear. President Magufuli forcefully endorsed a law dating 
back to the 1960s that allows all state schools in Tanzania to ban 
young mothers from attending, saying in June 2017, ``As long as I am 
president . . . no pregnant student will be allowed to return to school 
. . . After getting pregnant, you are done.'' He said that young 
mothers could opt for vocational training or become entrepreneurs, but 
should not be permitted to pursue formal education in public schools. 
Critics say the ban lacks public support, is misogynistic, and breaks 
international human rights conventions. It also contradicts a promise 
set out in the ruling party's 2015 election manifesto, which pledged to 
allow pregnant school girls to continue with their studies. According 
to the Tanzania Bureau of Statistics, about 21 percent of 
Tanzanian girls aged 15 to 19 have given birth. This troubling pattern 
of discouraging women from completing their education inhibits 
Tanzania's potential for economic growth and undermines women's 
potential to contribute to Tanzania's workforce. It also is counter to 
Tanzania's commitments under the Convention on the Elimination of all 
Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

  Finally, Tanzania has, for decades, hosted refugees from various 
conflicts and political crises in the conflict-afflicted and densely 
inhabited countries in the Great Lakes region of central Africa--some 
for extended periods--and has played a mediating role in attempts to 
resolve such crises. In 2014, Tanzania also naturalized a large number 
of long-term Burundian refugees. Instability in Burundi has led to 
hundreds of thousands of Burundians to seek refuge and safety in 
Tanzania. In fact, Tanzania very generously hosts 245,584 Burundian 
refugees and asylum seekers, more than any other country, according to 
the latest statistics from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
  In July of 2017, however, President Magufuli ordered the suspension 
of the registration and naturalization of thousands of Burundian 
refugees. He said, ``It's not that I am expelling Burundian refugees. I 
am just advising them to voluntarily return home . . . I urge 
Burundians to remain in their country, I have been assured, the place 
is now calm.'' During the same month, the Commission of Inquiry on 
Burundi, deployed by the U.N. Human Rights Council, reported the 
``persistence of serious human rights violations in a climate of 
widespread fear.'' Such violations included ``extrajudicial executions, 
acts of torture and other inhuman and degrading treatment, sexual and 
gender-based violence, arbitrary arrests and detention and enforced 
disappearances.'' With peace talks stalled in Burundi--and the May 2018 
constitutional referendum accompanied by widespread violence and 
intimidation, including 15 killings--Tanzania risks pushing refugees 
back to unstable and unsafe communities.
  The pattern of crackdowns on civil society, media, refugee, and 
public health providers under the Magufuli administration are contrary 
to the values that the United States has long supported both at home 
and abroad and are cause for concern. It is essential that the United 
States take a strong and proactive stance on these matters. Toward that 
end, I recommend that the administration take several actions.
  Immediately nominate an ambassador to lead our diplomatic efforts to 
push back against the tide of antidemocratic actions. The post has been 
vacant for well over a year.
  Conduct a review of assistance aimed at ensuring that the democracy, 
human rights and governance components of our bilateral assistance 
programs, which are an essential complement to sustainability in other 
areas of development that we support, are robustly funded and 
adequately address current challenges.
  Increase assistance to build the capacity of civil society and media 
stakeholders in Tanzania.
  Join with likeminded partners in the diplomatic community in Tanzania 
and in multilateral fora to jointly condemn President Magufuli's war on 
democratic freedoms and civil liberties and urge the Tanzanian 
Government to take concerted action to ensure that all political and 
civic rights guaranteed under the Tanzanian Constitution are fully 
  It seems to me that, at the same time President Magufuli is waging a 
war against poor governance, there is in fact another more pernicious 
effort being undertaken to roll back democratic freedoms and civil 
liberties. It is imperative that the United States, as a champion of 
democracy and freedom, raise its voice in support of Tanzanians who are 
pushing back against growing oppression. The Tanzanian Constitution 
states that ``the civic rights, duties and interests of every person 
and community shall be protected.'' Let us stand with those who are 
fighting to see that those guarantees are protected.