THE STIRRING RHINO

Tanzania 2014 | DIPLOMACY | REVIEW: DIPLOMACY & POLITICS

As the government of Tanzania begins to integrate technology into its services, it is planning to become an efficient and powerful force in East Africa and beyond.

After a comparatively peaceful transition to independence from British rule in 1961, and the fall of the Arab dynasty in Zanzibar in 1963, the two sides of Tanzania began a process of unification to become a republic on April 26, 1964. Today, 26 regions comprise Tanzania's administrative zones—21 on the mainland, and five in Zanzibar and Pemba—each of which is led by a commissioner appointed by the central government. At the district level, there are popularly elected councils with appointed executive officers.

THE BASICS

The Tanzanian political system is considered a unitary presidential democratic republic. Within this framework, the president of Tanzania is the head of state, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and head of the government, which is maintained as a multi-party system. The government exercises executive power, and legislative authority is vested in both the government and National Assembly of Tanzania.

The National Assembly and the president comprise of the Parliament, or Bunge in Swahili. Its 357 members represent five political parties in direct seats, as well as former officers, members nominated by the President, and representatives of the Zanzibar House of Representatives. As the country's main legislative body, Parliament funds the budget and administration of the country, oversees government programs and plans, and serves as the watchdog to ensure government accountability and responsibility. However, the most important function of Parliament is to draft and pass laws on subjects described and stipulated in the Constitution.

The Judiciary in Tanzania consists of three organs: the Court of Appeal of the United Republic of Tanzania, the High Courts for Mainland Tanzania and Tanzania Zanzibar, and the Judicial Service Commission for Mainland Tanzania. The Tanzanian legal system is based on common law, and the Tanzania Law Reform Commission is responsible for the review of the country's laws.

Following the nation's independence in 1961, the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) ruled the country until 1977. As a one-party state, Tanzania utilized a largely socialist economic development model until the mid-1980s, when the country first benefited from political and economic reforms. The first multi-party elections followed in 1994, when Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), or Party of the Revolution, won the vote. On October 31, 2010, CCM's leader, HE Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, was re-elected as the fourth president of Tanzania with 62.8% of the vote. Currently, CCM occupies 186 out of the 239 direct seats in the National Assembly. Of those, 102 are designated as “special seats" for women, in an effort to promote gender equality.

THE MODERN GOVERNMENT

A program launched in 2010 culminated in the proposed e-government plan going operational on April 1, 2012. According to Jabiri Kuwe Bakari, CEO of e-Government in Tanzania, the use of ICT was intended to enhance the delivery of public services, improve their quality, broaden availability, and innovate new types of service. In addition, ICT use has proven to be an efficient means of conducting transactions between the government and Tanzanian citizens and business communities. Within the public administration itself, e-government has opened up a wide variety of service types to better communicate between departments.

There are two main ways in which Tanzanians can utilize e-government to participate in politics and access information. The so-called “Citizen's Portal" is a single-window access database that publishes all of the information and services being provided by various government entities. Meanwhile, government officials and authorized individuals are entitled to e-mail hosting services. This allows government employees to connect to one network, making communications more efficient and the transfer of data more secure. To further establish Tanzania as a modern role model in Africa, the country has looked toward East Asia for examples of good governance. Borrowed from Malaysia, the Big Results Now program has set ambitious targets across a raft of key sectors, many of which have strict guidelines that can reduce corruption and solidify ideals that better serve the Tanzanian people.

SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

Under the guidance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, headed by Bernard Kamillius Membe, the Ministry is actively working “to become an effective promoter of Tanzania's economic and other national interests abroad." In line with this vision, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation seeks to conduct diplomacy that generates economic activity and facilitates Tanzania's transformation into a sustainably developed state.

To this end, Tanzania's membership in regional and international organizations, such as the East Africa Community (EAC), Southern African Development Community (SADC), and African Union (AU), is of particular relevance. In its unique position as both a member of the EAC and SADC, Tanzania's relationships with Kenya and Uganda have become increasingly important.

Originally coined as the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) in 1980, the SADC took on its better-known moniker in 1992. Its main focus is to promote and accelerate regional integration and sustainable development. There are 15 members in total, all from Southern Africa, boasting a total GDP of $575.5 billion in 2010. The SADC exported $89.2 billion and imported $91.6 billion, posting a -2.6% trade deficit. Being a part of this group opens up new markets and opportunities for export. SADC member states send 45% of their exports to the Asian Pacific, 27% to the EU, and 15% to the rest of the world, while 10% is comprised of intra-SADC trade, and the remaining 3% goes to the rest of Africa. Membership of organizations, such as the SADC, will support Tanzania as it seeks to increase trade with varied markets in different regions. US President Obama's trip to Tanzania in June 2013 helped to solidify relations with Washington. The trip was seen as an opportunity to boost US relations with emerging markets, especially as Tanzania races toward becoming one of East Africa's most important economies and a significant energy player in the wake of recent natural gas discoveries. And aside from key partners in Africa such as South Africa and Kenya, Tanzania is also focused on deepening ties with China, Japan, the EU, the UAE, and India.