Private sector role a major divide for Tanzania political parties

Thursday September 17 2020

Chadema presidential candidate Tundu Lissu. The political party is known for its libertarian inclination and is proposing a free market ideology. AFP PHOTO


As party manifestos go, Tanzania’s Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) has so far proposed the most divergent ideas, pledging to pioneer a friendlier tax regime with relief and a payers’ Bill of Rights, a first in Tanzania’s administration.

Chadema, known for its libertarian inclination, is also proposing a free-market ideology saying it will engage citizens in private enterprise, standardise the 16 per cent VAT to be in line with other EAC countries, and reduce multiple taxes.

How the Tanzanian economy will be run after the October 28 General Election has brought to the fore the ideological divide between the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and the major opposition parties.

Chadema is also elevating human rights and good governance, campaigning on the platform of “Freedom, Justice and People Development”.

Touting past achievements

CCM is touting its achievements in spurring economic growth in the past five years as its political mantra.


Under CCM, the mining sector last year saw major changes in laws and policies through the Written Laws Miscellaneous Amendment Act (2019) that changed the ownership structure of mining multinationals and stipulated a win-win agreement on benefits.

In its 2020 manifesto, the CCM government, which has played a central role in business with parastatals, has promised to continue doing the same if re-elected, and especially where the private sector runs short. The party has also promised to continue pioneering agrarian revolution and industrialisation through a private sector-led economy, with government support.

The Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo), on the other hand, is putting emphasis on citizen welfare under the tagline “Kazi na Bata’’ (work with fun), and has promised radical changes in economic policies especially in the extractive industry and mining.

ACT-Wazalendo proposes to put state-owned enterprises in the hands of citizens. The five-year old party, whose presidential candidate, Bernard Membe, is a former Foreign Affairs Minister, promises a pragmatic approach to private sector-driven economy on the grounds that some state-owned companies are too financially constrained and technologically weak to undertake big projects.

State-owned enterprises

The party promises that majority shareholding of state-owned enterprises will be sold to Tanzanians “to enable citizens participate directly in owning their own economy”. The party also hopes that this will boost efficiency and transparency, especially when the enterprises are listed on stock markets.

ACT Wazalendo says that state-owned enterprises that are listed tend to perform better, thus reducing their dependence on the state’s coffers and increasing their capital expenditure, unlike non-listed enterprises that tend to struggle financially.