Air Date: April 22, 1997 Program 9716

HUMAN RIGHTS IN TANZANIA

Guests:
Brady Anderson, US Ambassador to Tanzania
Charles Brown, Director of Training and Program Development, Freedom House
Edward Hoseah, Chairman (interim), Center for Conflict Resolution, Tanzania
Evod Mmanda, Legal Officer, Legal and Human Rights Center, Tanzania
Leila Sheik, Executive Director, Tanzanian Media Women's Association

(This text has been professionally transcribed, However, for timely
distribution, it has not been edited or proofread against the tape.)

CHARLES BROWN, Director of Training and Program Development, Freedom House: Tanzania is neither a free society or a completely unfree society.

KEITH PORTER, Producer: This week on Common Ground, a look at human rights in Tanzania.

LEILA SHEIK, Executive Director, Tanzanian Media Women's Association: How many women got raped in say in 1992 and reported cases to the police stations. What was the reaction of the police officers, the law enforcers towards a victim of rape? What is the attitude of law courts towards a woman who's been raped and so on? And we find that there's a lot of discrepancy, there's a lot of mismanagement of justice.

PORTER: Common Ground is a program on world affairs and the people who shape events. It's produced by the Stanley Foundation. I'm Keith Porter.

The level of respect for human rights in Tanzania is difficult to determine. In this East African nation overt violation of rights may not be easily apparent to a casual observer, but such violations do exist.

EVOD MMANDA, Legal Officer, Legal and Human Rights Center, Tanzania: If you go up to the level of the President here, this is a Detention Act. The President has power at any moment. When he feels that you either endangered or you are about to endanger the security, you can be kept incommunicado.

PORTER: This is Evod Mmanda, a legal Officer at the Legal and Human Rights Center in Tanzania.

MMANDA: Within 15 days, if it can be questioned, before the court of law to show why you are kept in prison without being taken before the magistrate for being tried... so you can feel... you can see... from the president down to the simple police personnel, they have some powers which in one way or another, they tend to infringe some rights. For instance, in some areas there's a right to demonstrate when you feel that I am not satisfied with this. But here you demonstrate to support whatever has come out from the government. But to protest something against the government, here you'll meet riot police and they will hit you very well. So, you find police have power, and ingrained fear has been built, especially when you feel that, when I talk like this, and if someone is taping me, it can be taken somewhere and it is played, I might be in trouble. So there has been that big fear, so you tend to fear each other, you can not be open. So even if you feel that there is something which is taking place, it has a blessing of the government, but you feel it is, should not be the way it is being done, and if it does not give justice to us, but so long as it has come from the government, you can't question it. And I remember once, in a course of collecting our training, we introduced a topic "Proceedings Against the State." Every participant was terribly shocked. Can you sue the government? Can you dare? It has police, it has prisons, it has court system and all sorts of things. Can an individual dare, and stand up and sue the government. So you can see how people are passive that you cannot stand up in court and claim your rights if they infringed by the government. So that has been the system, but presently, as with the new system of slightly expanded democracy, where some kind of freedom of expression and the press, at least he's trying to articulate some of the ills which are being done by the government functionaries, by the government itself, even by some individuals who by virtue of having money, and if they are well connected with the police system, if you go to the police, you will get arrested. Instead of that person getting arrested, because they have tipped the police. You see, that kind of thing. Sometimes some laws are not meant to insure justice; and some laws are very good, they are not known by those who are targeted to be served by that good law which would insure justice among them. And the corruption and mismanagement of all these things; who has money has a bigger voice in some quarters.

PORTER: Just two months ago the U.S. State Department released its annual report on rights in Tanzania. The report says in part: "Human Rights problems included police beatings and mistreatments of suspects which sometimes resulted in death. Soldiers attacked civilians and police in Zanzibar used torture, including beatings and floggings, arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention continued. There were limitations on freedom of the press, association, assembly and workers rights. Discrimination and violence against women remained serious problems." The report also said in regard to the 1995 elections in Tanzania: "Police often harassed and intimidated members and supporters of the political opposition." Press reports referred to the election process as utter chaos and a monumental fiasco.

BRADY ANDERSON, US Ambassador to Tanzania: Democracy can survive in Tanzania, and I think the election, because it was the first mullet-party one, they really had had, was bound to have some snafu's and it did, and some fairly serious ones.

PORTER: This is the United States Ambassador to Tanzania, Brady Anderson.

ANDERSON: But we do believe, and we said at the time of the election, when it was over, that we felt that it basically reflected the will of the majority of the people in the country. The result did. And it was a real election, there were several parties involved. Those of us who have been here for several years have been watching it grow, that is, multi-party democracy. And it's well on it's way, I mean there are pot holes on the road, but it is definitely well on it's way.

MMANDA: We noted some discrepancies in the whole exercise in the way, although we haven't yet given a position as an organization, but even on an individual basis, we could see that the exercise had several shortfalls.

PORTER: Again this is Evod Mmanda of the Legal and Human Rights Center.

MMANDA: Some ballot papers were missing in several stations, and I witnessed that myself up to midnight. For instance, here, it had to be postponed for another two weeks, the ballot papers were not enough. The registrations, in some stations you can find, the registration, kind of register are missing, but the ballot papers are not there. But you cannot vote before registering, you see. Something somewhere was missing. Sometimes the polling stations, were placed in a place where the voters cannot look at the place. And here, we don't have that system of permanent registers kind of register, whereby , I live in this place, my name is in that register, I just go there and pull out my ID and vote. Here, first of all, we don't have identities, national identify cards. Unless you have a passport, or you have an identity card from your working place, but an ordinary civilian does not have an identity card. So, and coupled with not having a permanent voter's register, you have to go and register a month in advance. Every election, even if there is a bi-election, you have to go and register, and in this process, there is a lot of cheating.

PORTER: Another dispute that effects human rights in Tanzania, is the geographic split between the mainland, known as Tanganyika, and the island of Zanzibar. The two were joined to form Tanzania in 1964. Edward Hoseah is interim chairman of the Tanzania center for Conflict Resolution.

EDWARD HOSEAH, Chairman (interim), Center for Conflict Resolution, Tanzania: It is true that there is misunderstanding of some sort and this can be really a conflict. What I can tell you is the one of the areas of disagreement is whether the minority Zanzibar have the right to be employed in non-union areas. What do I mean by this? The constitution of this country, defines what are the union matters; and what are union matters.

PORTER: And when you say union, you mean the union of the two...

HOSEAH: ...of the two countries...

PORTER: ...of the two countries...

HOSEAH: ...Tanganyika and Zanzibar, they form Tanzania. Now when I say union matters, I mean those matters that are not for the two countries. The bank of Tanzania, has the right, is ticketed as a union matter. Currency for example is a union matter. What I am trying to say here, there are areas which are non-union matters where Zanzibar is employed in Tanzania mainland. So these are the areas that may create this kind of conflict. The same applies to the mainland, to the Zanzibaries, they feel that the mainlanders have taken the largest share of international aids, international donation. So they feel they have been left out. So these are some of the areas that I can point out, that may signal some differences or conflicts.

PORTER: Are you optimistic that the union will hold together?

HOSEAH: Oh definitely. I don't think that the union can die in the near future. I would say that the union is going to be stronger and stronger as long as the two people are prepared to relinquish their selfish interests.

ANDERSON: I think that the union can survive. It seems that the people on Zanzibar and certainly the government in Dar Es Salaam want the union, at this point to survive, and as long as that continues to be the case, then there's no reason it can't.

PORTER: Again, Brady Anderson, the US Ambassador to Tanzania.

ANDERSON: There's a terribly long and complex history, that, there's no way to answer that question very quickly, but Zanzibar just has it's own separate identity and always has, and because it's an island, makes it a very unique relationship with the mainland. It's 20 miles or so away, and because of their separate history, a bit of a different, even cultural history, going back to the Middle East, and because its an island, there's always going to be a strain between the two. But the marriage is still working, and nobody's filed for divorce so I think that as long as both partners in the marriage want to keep going they can.

PORTER: We're talking in this edition of Common Ground about the state of human rights in Tanzania. Printed transcripts and audio cassettes of this program are available. Listen at the end of the broadcast for details. Common Ground is a service of the Stanley Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts a wide range of programs meant to provoke thought and encourage dialogue on world affairs.

The US State Department report on human rights in Tanzania, goes on to say: "The Tanzanian constitution prohibits the use of torture and in-human or degrading treatment. But the police regularly threaten, mistreat and occasionally beat suspected criminals during and after their apprehension and interrogation." Later the report adds, "Police continue to make arbitrary arrests although less frequently than in the past. For example, the police occasionally arrest relatives of criminal suspects and hold them in custody without charge for as long as several years in efforts to force the suspects to surrender. Such relatives who manage to get their cases heard before a judge are usually set free, only to be immediately re-arrested when they leave the courtroom. The government has not taken legal action to correct these abuses."

BROWN: In one of our recent surveys of freedom we referred to the system that existed in Tanzania until recently as one of quite repression.

PORTER: This is Charles Brown, a Human Rights expert with the American organization, Freedom House. He mentions the CCM. This is the ruling party in Tanzania.

BROWN: The socialist system and societal controls that Nyrere and his successors put into place, were not as flashy and brutal as what happen in say, Amin's Uganda, or more recently in Rwanda. But they certainly effective in withholding from the average citizen of Tanzania those rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the past 18 months or so, there's certainly has been an attempt by the CCM to move towards a multi-party system. Cynics would claim that this is in response to donor pressure. The problem is, is that the first elections that took place under this move towards multi-partyism were badly bungled. By most observers agreement, the elections on the islands of Zanzibar was stolen by the ruling party, and stolen from a party that was advocating greater Zanzibary autonomy if not independence. On the mainland the problem was less theft and more incompetence. Ballot boxes were not distributed. Those that were distributed were not collected or kept sealed. There didn't seem to be any conscious effort by the government to corrupt or steal the election; rather it was more, the government just failed to put into place the mechanisms that would guarantee a free and fair election. It's not clear whether the CCM would have won, under a fair election on the mainland. It's possible. Certainly there are other issues such as the almost complete control over broadcast media by the government, that favored a CCM victory in any case. But the utter bungling guaranteed that no one could seriously regard the quote, unquote, "New Tanzania" as a democracy. What's been particularly debilitating in this process, and what I think has hindered Tanzania, in ways that make it's transition more parallel to those in the former Soviet Union than anywhere else, is that the socialist system that Nyrere attempted to put into place, created a culture of entitlement, a culture of expecting the government to do everything. It has made a transition to both a market economy and a democratic system difficult. NGO's for example are often not grass root popular based organizations, but rather one or two individuals who see the establishment of a nongovernmental organization as an opportunity to make money. The situation currently is Tanzania is, that Tanzania is neither a free society, or a completely unfree society. It is rather a society, in which the government has failed in it's attempts to engender a transition to multi-party democracy. It is a government rife with corruption. It is a government that is attempting a transition to a free market economy where not many people have an understanding of what a free market economy is. It is a government that has failed to take measures to lessen tensions between the South Asian minority and the Black African majority which has centered in large part over economic issues. And it is a government that is facing increasing rifts between the mainland and the islands of Zanzibar. All of these issues create an situation where... Tanzania could be characterized as an experiment that hasn't worked. It is neither the disaster that Rwanda, or Burundi or Sudan has become, or even Kenya for that matter. But it is not the success that Uganda has been politically, much less South Africa or Namibia or Botswana.

KAPORO MSHINDO: (via a translator) There has always been a harmonious and peaceful relationship between the different religions here, that is between the Muslims and Christians...

PORTER: This is Mr. Mshindo. He's Regional Secretary for BAKWATA, The National Council of Muslims in Tanzania. Religious tensions, especially between Christians and Muslims are another potential source for human rights violations.

MSHINDO: (via a translator) At the level of leadership they had very good relationships to the extent of having joint session whereby Christian religious leaders and Muslims religious leaders could sit together to try to discuss and find ways of solving certain problems, social problems, which happen in this society. Even trying to educate each other, or exchange ideas and experiences on probably how to deal with the issues of divorce. Questions of inheritance, and despite the fact that they realized that the Christians, they don't have really specifically law dealing with inheritance, and that most cases they follow the government. But still they had a number of things that they could share and discuss together in that area. As well as also looking the ways, how they could educate their masses, their believers, on certain issues pertaining to their religions.

And then he added that the wars of conflict, a few months ago, or maybe something which comes and then goes away, but it's not really something that could be pinpointed, that this particular leader or that particular leadership, but it's just a question of certain groups of the believers themselves. For instance he mentioned there is a group, or some groups probably of Muslims, who would try to translate the Bible, and therefore say, "Oh, you do this, after all the Bible doesn't' say that, you do that, and the Bible doesn't say that." And the same applies to the Christians; they would take the Koran and say "You Muslim, you're not doing this and you're not doing that, and the Koran says this." So then there's the question of blasphemy comes up, but its not really a question that it goes within the leadership level, rather its between the groups. It's not something easy for the leadership for instance to control, because it's not like a affiliation of Bakwata, for instance, or maybe an affiliation of a particular church, but it's just some individuals.

PORTER: Mshindo, also had a comment on another human rights concern. Domestic violence

MSHINDO: (via a translator) In this area they base more on education, and they try to educate the people through the Mosques, so usually they ask the Imams, that is, the leader of the Mosques, to talk about such topics. Try to tell the believers how they should live and how Islam sees the things. But in case also, they receive problems of that nature, that is, of domestic violence, they also try to talk to the parties, in the same manner that is trying to educate them. That is, how Islam hates beating and saying that they go to the extent of even trying to, make them perceive a situation whereby maybe a wife beats a husband, or a husband beats a wife and that particular person dies instantly. You know, how would the other party feel? So they try to educate them through that way.

LEILA SHEIK, Executive Director, Tanzanian Media Women's Association: We don't have that many women in positions of authority. A lot of our women here, especially in the urban areas are engaged in the informal sector.

PORTER: This is Leila Sheik, the Executive Director of TAMWA, the Tanzania Media Women's Association.

SHEIK: You see, they sell food, cook food in little small business here and there. Mainly because they lack training. From lack of training, and also because when the IMF sort of made it's recommendations to the government, a lot of retrenchment took place, a lot of jobs got lost, you see. And when that happened it was the women who lost their jobs, not the men. So we found that a lot of women stay in abusive relationships. If all these men who batter their wives go to jail for a minimum of say three months, there would be at least 90% of the men in jails at any given time. So it has to start with this chastization again, which was saying that it is wrong for man to batter his wife.

PORTER: The State Department report on Human Rights in Tanzania says: "Violence against women remained widespread. Legal remedies exist but in practice are difficult to obtain. Traditional customs subordinating women remain strong in both urban and rural areas and often local magistrates uphold such practices. Women may be punished for not bearing children."

SHEIK: We were the first group in the country to talk about rape, to talk about domestic violence, battery, to talk about incest, to talk about child defilement and so on. And about 10 years ago, when we talked about, say domestic violence or rape, it created a lot of uproar in our society. People didn't want the status quo to be disturbed. People had never talked about these things openly, we didn't even have a Swahili word for sexual harassment. And once we brought it out in the open, people started complaining about us.

PORTER: Again from the State Department report on Tanzania: "It is accepted for a husband to treat his wife as he wishes and wife beating can occur at all levels of society. Cultural, family, and social pressure prevent many women from reporting abuses to authorities. Government officials frequently make public statements decrying such abuses but rarely take action against perpetrators."

SHEIK: We decided that it's not sufficient to have workshops without having the correct data, how many women got raped say in 1992, and reported cases to the police stations. What was the reaction of the police officers, the law enforcers towards a victim of rape? What is the attitude of law courts towards a woman who's been raped and so on. And we found that there's a lot of discrepancy, there's a lot of mismanagement of justice in the law courts; because we were not very happy with the way the woman who was being questioned in court, her evidence was being suppressed, or her evidence was being undermined and her private life was being brought into focus. And we decided, that OK, for the next three years we're going to focus on and focus in lobbying through the media to eradicate gender violence in our country. So, say for the past year now, we've been focusing on that. In the past we've been doing reproductive health rights, child labor, sex workers, and so on, we pick on different topics. Abortion, you see, but we're going to focus mainly in the eradication of gender violence in Tanzania for the next three years.

PORTER: In regard to the national elections that were held here in 95', did your organization play a role in voter education? Did you take positions during that election? And did you do anything in the controversy that followed the election?

SHEIK: Some of our members who also work in other NGO's, did take part in the voter's education program. For example, the TGNP, you know TGNP? Tanzania Gender National Program is an NGO here, which was given the program, we sort of met, a lot of NGO's met and we selected 2 or 3 NGO's to do the voter's education vis-à-vis the women electorate. But once the controversy came up I think, though some reporters, TAMWA members who were sort of reporting it in the mainstream media as employees of the particular media organ, not as TAMWA. But on the whole, I think it has been as a women's movement in Tanzania, the NGO movement, it has been a really an individual choice, rather than as a group choice, like I think in America, where you have the gay rights movement who would vote for a particular candidate en masse. Over here, the women's movement sort of left it to individuals to vote for their candidate or for the party. Sometimes you vote for a party, but sometimes you vote for a candidate, it depends.

ANDERSON: Well, we encourage very much the growth of multiparty democracy and we see that moving along very well.

PORTER: Again, Brady Anderson, the US Ambassador to Tanzania

ANDERSON: Also economic liberalization and as we saw this morning at the opening of a 34 million dollar Coca-Cola bottling plant, attended and presided over as it were, by the President of Coke from Atlanta, as I told him, its a good sign for Tanzania. President Mkapa was there. President Koppa, we encourage him in every way to open his economy, to sell off these bankrupt para-statal organizations and slim down his government, and he's committed to doing that and he's doing it and we're very pleased about that. We're also interested in the economic development of the country, access to markets here for American companies, like Coca-Cola, or like Sheraton, or like a small telecommunications company out of Boston, called The Africa Communications Group, have just set up sort of a public pay phone system here. And those are at the heart of what we're interested in. And Tanzania has been a very stable country in this part of Africa where instability has been the norm for a long time, and so we want them to remain stable. Not only for themselves but also for the region.

PORTER: For Common Ground, I'm Keith Porter.

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