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Vol 43 No 8

Published 19th April 2002


Decision time in Dar

The government faces a crisis of confidence amid mounting allegations of corruption, gem smuggling and covert operations

Suddenly alarm bells are ringing about Tanzania. The fast-growing model pupil of International Monetary Fund economic theology and recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars of mining house investment, with its impressive liberal President, is worrying some neighbours and officials in Washington and London. Yet Tanzania's covert role in the Congo-Kinshasa war, rampant corruption, rising Islamist unrest on both the mainland and Zanzibar (see Box) and fast growing gem smuggling are damaging its political credibility. They are costing President Benjamin Mkapa's government aid and investment, too. When President Robert Mugabe won his dubious election last month (AC Vol 43 No 7), Mkapa effusively extended 'Our warmest congratulations on the deserved presidential mandate the people of Zimbabwe have given you'. He commended Mugabe's defence of 'free, democratic and sovereign governance'. Unlike the Commonwealth, Tanzanian observers had declared the poll free and fair. Mkapa's government depends heavily on foreign aid and investment but he likes to be seen resisting foreign interference in Africa's internal affairs. The opposition Civic United Front (CUF) pointed to similarities between Zimbabwe's and Zanzibar's 2000 elections ­ intimidation, doubtful electoral registers, unfair rules and badly managed polling stations.

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