Key political risks to watch in Tanzania

Tanzania, east Africa's second-biggest economy, has enjoyed relative stability in a volatile region and has held four multi-party elections since 1995, but a dispute over the constitutional review process is clouding its prospects.

President Jakaya Kikwete wants a new constitution in place in 2014, a year before the next parliamentary and presidential elections, but opposition leaders and activists have accused the government of trying to unduly influence the review process to its benefit. The government is expected to table amendments to the review this month.

Following is a summary of key political risks in Tanzania:

The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party used its parliamentary majority to push a constitutional review bill through the assembly in November. Members of parliament from the main opposition CHADEMA party walked out.

Kikwete held a string of meetings with opposition parties and civil society groups and the government is expected to table amendments to the bill this month, hoping to reach broad consensus on political reform in Africa's fourth-biggest gold producer.

Kikwete's move to amend the bill risks angering some lawmakers within the CCM, which has been in power since independence from Britain in 1961, and who are reluctant to make sweeping changes to a system the party has benefited from.
President Kikwete

Activists say the country's main law, adopted in 1977 under one-party rule, favours the long-dominant CCM party and denies citizens fundamental rights and liberties.

Opposition leaders want to limit presidential powers, introduce electoral reforms and allow independent candidates to stand for parliament and as president. They also want the law to allow presidential results to be challenged in court.

Kikwete plans to call a referendum after the final document is approved by a constituent assembly.

What to watch:
- Constitutional stalemate. CCM lawmakers may block any amendments to the constitutional review bill. On the other hand, opposition leaders and activists have rejected the existing constitutional review legislation and have threatened to stage demonstrations if the bill is not amended.

- Public unrest. Police have banned public protests, because they say there is a permanent risk of attack from Somalia's al Shabaab rebels.

CCM said in November it would implement swift anti-corruption measures nationwide and publicly acknowledged for the first time that a succession row had split the party.

The CCM leadership resigned in April and was replaced by fresh faces who took advantage of infighting among senior politicians in a bitter power struggle.

Prof Ibrahim Lipumba CUF (L) and Freeman Mbowe Chadema
CCM will hold internal national elections in 2012, which could present an opportunity for the party to sack individuals tainted with corruption allegations.

What to watch:
- Political infighting. Kikwete has three more years left in office but rival camps in CCM are already fighting over his successor, splitting the party.

Several politicians, including cabinet ministers, both past and present, are said to be eyeing the country's top job.

- Graft. Two businessmen were jailed in May for defrauding the central bank of more than $1 million. The case was one in a series of bank scams that cost the central bank $87 million in 2005. Will more cases follow?

Discontent at rising living costs has been bubbling, with trade union leaders repeatedly threatening nationwide strikes to push for salary increases for workers.

While inflation in neighbouring Kenya and Uganda appears to have peaked, inflation rose in Tanzania in December for the 14th straight month. A hike to power prices is seen fueling consumer prices further.

Kikwete has said he expects the year-on-year inflation rate to fall to single digits by June this year, but most analysts believe this is unrealistic.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in November that Tanzania's economy might top the 6 percent growth it forecast for 2011. Growth, however, would remain below its initial estimate at the start of 2011 of 7.2 percent due to frequent power outages.

What to watch:
- Prices and unemployment. Kikwete said in December nearly 2.4 million people, most of them youths, were unemployed, representing 10.7 percent of the population. Lack of job opportunities could fuel discontent over the cost of living.
Source: Reuters,, reported by By Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala in Dar es Salaam
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