Future Generator: The political climate stabilizes in Tanzania

Future Generator: The political climate stabilizes in Tanzania

The ‘Future Generator’ is a highly unique and cutting-edge approach to forecasting ‘media sentiment’, developed by a partnership between Global Risk Insights (GRI) and Ethnographic Edge (EE). The aim of the forecast is to determine how media sentiment towards a country’s political environment might develop in the future. Considering the impact of media sentiment on trading and investments, our forecasts will give readers more time and context to maximize on market opportunities.

The methodology of ‘Future Generator’ can be found here.

Tanzania EE

The EE signal suggests further improvement of the domestic political environment in Tanzania

As produced by EE’s sophisticated app, it is projected that media sentiment towards Tanzania will continue to be positive over the next week. The green spot furthest to the right on the graph (above) is the starting point of the signal. We predict that the line will continue to slightly project upwards, which indicates positive media coverage. Considering the strong correlation between media sentiment and political events, EE draws the conclusion that the Tanzanian political environment will continue to improve until at least September 12.

GRI Assessment of the EE Signal

GRI’s team of directors and our East Africa experts have assessed this signal provided by EE. Based on local expertise and political risk training, we agree with the data analytics produced that Tanzania will continue to experience positive media coverage until the middle of this month, indicating an improving political environment. This is likely to be the case for the following reasons:

1. Formal dialogue process starts between government and opposition

By far the biggest reason behind the positive media coverage has been the opposition party Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo’s (Chadema) acceptance of an offer of mediation with the governing administration of President John Magufuli. Tensions looked set to come to a dangerous rise on September 1, when Chadema planned a nationwide “Defiance Day” against the ruling party’s ten months in office, which have led to highly-publicized drives against corruption, but also an increasing amount of pressure on opposition media outlets. Although an earlier offer from the country’s human rights commission failed, cooler heads prevailed this time around, and Chadema agreed to an offer from leading religious clerics to hold talks with the government.

This marks a significant softening from the opposition’s stance ahead of this month’s opening session of Parliament. Indeed, one day before the planned demonstration, Chadema’s leader was detained after attending an illegal meeting.

2. Zanzibar is gradually moving forward from its electoral impasse

The October 2015 election that saw Magufuli’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party retain its decades-long hold on power passed off without too many issues on the mainland, but was surrounded by numerous allegations of fraud in semi-autonomous Zanzibar after the chairman of the island’s electoral commission annulled the opposition Civic United Front’s (CUF) victory. The farcial nature of these votes being canceled in the archipelago yet still being counted for the post of national president also led to foreign aid organizations suspending funds. A March rerun of the election resulted in an CCM victory — unsurprising given a CUF boycott coupled with the amount of state resources at the ruling party’s disposal.

However, political normalcy has slowly returned to Zanzibar. What has not helped the opposition’s standing was political infighting at its recent conference, where, almost comically, delegates hurled furniture at each other. The death of former Zanzibari president Aboud Jumbe, who commanded respect from most political affiliations on the island, has additionally contributed to a temporary détente between the two rival parties, even as losing CUF candidate Seif Sharif Hamad’s refusal to shake current president Ali Mohamed Sheins’s hand raised more than a few eyebrows.

3. Tanzania’s natural resources are in high demand

Finally, in spite of the global oil glut, Tanzania has a lot to look forward to in terms of natural resources. It is sitting on more than 57 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, and Magufuli has taken a personal interest in ensuring that the infrastructure for processing and exporting the gas is ready as soon as possible. Gold exports continue to gradually increase in spite of low global prices. A protectionist move to block coal imports should give the domestic sector a well-needed boost. Moreover, a massive helium three months ago could net the East African nation $3.5 billion.

Limitations of the EE Signal

While the positive media coverage of Tanzania should continue for a week or so after mid-month, it will most likely not last. For one, Chadema has capped the dialogue process at one month. In light of previous statements by both Magufuli (who pledged to crack down on dissenters “without mercy”) and his center-right political opponent (Chadema members have routinely accused the president of disrespecting the country’s constitution and threatening democracy). This enmity is unlikely to be addressed by October, leading to a possible showdown on the streets next month.

In addition, while Magufuli has been lauded for an ambitious budget that aims to boost economic activity and revenue collection, he has been far from willing to work with his detractors. Whenever a ruling party bans television coverage of parliament and political rallies, not to mention drastically increases the prison sentences for sharing government information, it is inviting scrutiny. Yet Magufuli seems to continue living up to his nickname – “Tingatinga” (meaning “the bulldozer” in Swahili) – both in terms of his propensity for enacting government reforms as well as the efficiency with which he tackles his political opponents.

All this points to negative media coverage of Tanzania’s political environment to resume, in aggregate, in the next several weeks.


The Tanzania expertise in this report was provided by Kevin Amirehsani.

Kevin is a Denver-based policy and public engagement consultant. He was previously the head of operations for a solar energy startup in Lagos, researcher for the US Commercial Service in Cape Town and the Institute for Democratic Governance in Accra, and Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon. He holds an MSc. in International Political Economy from LSE along with a B.S. and B.A. in Industrial Engineering and Political Science from UC Berkeley.

The Future Generator is intended to offer an opinion of future of events. These estimates are merely predications and are not a guarantee and should not be exclusively relied upon when making business, economic, political, or other decisions. By accessing this content you agree to Global Risk Insight’s disclaimer of all liability and warranties, express or implied, for events arising out of or related to this article. Our full Terms of Use found here also apply to articles in this series. 

About Author