Tanzania's President Ploughs Through Civil Society With Latest Crackdown


Tanzania continues to stifle civil society and critical views as it heads towards general elections in 2020, with a slew of new legislation aimed at curbing the NGO sector and freedom of speech.

On 19 June 2019, a bill seeking to regulate all aspects of civil society operations surfaced in Tanzania. In unprecedented circumstances, the bill, the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act no 3 (2019) seeking to regulate civil society by amending all laws governing the sector, was being tabled under a "certificate of urgency".

The bill was to be reviewed through a public hearing on 21 June and ready for final approval by parliament on 28 June. After concerted efforts by civil society, civil society organisations were invited to appear before the parliamentary committee in Dodoma on 21 June 2019. The bill was tabled despite an incomplete NGO policy review process started in September 2018.

Against these expectations and despite several forums for engagement between the civil society sector and government, the bill was unexpectedly tabled as parliament was going into recess. Instead of the two days initially scheduled for parliamentary debate, the bill was debated for less than three hours and approved.

The amendments which were assented to...

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