Last week the new Tanzanian president, already nicknamed “Bulldozer,” announced he was deporting all illegal workers. It was a direct hit on neighbor Kenya, because much of Tanzania’s professional class comes from Kenya.
The #5 story in Africa for 2015 was the Tanzanian election, and it tells a horrible tale of democracy and may be foretelling the future for the U.S. and worldwide.
Magufuli’s deportation order followed all sorts of other blustering initiatives, including ranting in front of a group of high-profile African businessmen that they would be jailed if they don’t pay their taxes and executive actions slashing the national budget.
Magufuli is an object lesson in democracy. Everything he is doing at the moment is wildly popular in Tanzania: damned if it isn’t legal, or ethical or even moral. It’s … popular.
Consequences? Who knows, it’s popular! The polls say so!
We’re getting a good dose of that lesson right now during our own presidential campaign. Democracy is showing its true colors.
Tanzania’s election last fall was peaceful and certified by all sorts of outside observers as free and fair. But the choice available to the people at the time, Magufuli vs. Lowassa, was not a choice that a lot of the electorate wanted. So goes democracy.
And guess what?! It wasn’t a choice that the power elites wanted or expected!
Sound familiar? Edward Lowassa (Jeb Bush) was the establishment favorite. Instead, Magufuli (Cruz? Trump? Milton Don’tknowyet) became the nominee. Foreshadowing what might happen this summer in the U.S., Lowassa (Jeb Bush) then mounted his own rebel campaign.
Did the people get what they wanted? If they did, did they know what they wanted? Did they want what they knew they wanted?
End of First Book.
The Beginning of the Second Book opens with Magufuli firing up the team.
Hiding behind trucks in shady parts of Dar to unmask criminals, telling tax evaders he’s going to put them all in jail, far exceeding his executive authority with actions slashing the budget.
Now, deporting “illegals.”
Think he might suggest building a wall?
I don’t think the Second Book is going to end well, but we’ll see. But the first book is done. It shows that the democratic process is not a democratic process. What influences elections in Tanzania might be different than what influences elections in the U.S., but the result is the same.
Influence trumps rational choice.
Stay tuned. Or maybe if you’re an American, take heed. Either way. Keep the message to a sound-bite length.
(For my summary of all the top 10 stories in Africa in 2015, click here.)