2006 Tutu Fellow Aidan Eyakuze has co-authored an academic article which was published in the Local/ Global Encounters Journal in February 2020. Co-authored with Khalifa Said, a freelance investigative journalist based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the article is titled The Weaponization of Identity and Citizenship: The Case of Tanzania. The article explores the weaponization of identity and citizenship in Tanzania, which is becoming increasingly authoritarian. Aidan is an economist and heads Twaweza East Africa.
It illustrates the types of discrimination that a citizen can face for not affiliating with the ruling political party. Penalties range from unemployment to statelessness; even refugees escaping persecution can’t find refuge and are expelled in such a climate.
The authors begin the piece by saying that Tanzania’s track record of leadership in Africa’s liberation struggle from 1960 to 1994 earned it a reputation of being anchored in the principles of the basic and inalienable dignity of the human person. The country’s success, relative to its neighbours, of forging a cohesive nation and identity out of a salad bowl of communities and ethnicities, imbued it with an additional veneer of exceptionalism. Aidan notes that Tanzania was different, and in a good way.
His essay looks at the experience of Zanzibaris seeking government jobs without a ruling party membership card and how the government has withheld public funds from opposition-leaning constituencies. The future of refugees to the country is also now uncertain.
Numerous first-hand reports have emerged of people being discriminated against directly because they were not card-carrying members of President Magufuli's party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). The government has denied this, but random interviews carried out by one of the authors of the essay with people who had experienced employment discrimination on this basis challenge the government’s denials. And in Zanzibar - an island of about 1.3 million people - being a member of the ruling party confers distinct advantages with respect to government employment oppor-tunities where one’s qualifications matter less than one’s party affiliation.