Tanzania: The Roots of Repression

Issue Date April 2021
Volume 32
Issue 2
Page Numbers 77–89
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The flawed 2020 Tanzanian elections are typically blamed on an authoritarian turn instigated by the late President John Magufuli (1959–2021). This articles argues that focusing excessively on Magufuli obscures the authoritarian foundations of CCM rule: The strategies used to maintain political control under his tenure have deep roots, and have not taken CCM off a democratizing path it was never on in the first place. This conclusion underlines the risks of viewing leaders through rose-tinted glasses: Charismatic individuals can claim the reformer’s mantle, but giving them too much credence before structural reforms are implemented sells democracy short and increases the risk of authoritarian relapse.

About the Authors

Nic Cheeseman

Nic Cheeseman is professor of democracy and international development at the University of Birmingham.

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Hilary Matfess

Hilary Matfess is assistant professor at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies.

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Alitalali Amani

Alitalali Amani is a student of political science writing under a pen name.

View all work by Alitalali Amani