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Contesting Constitutional Multi-Culturalism in Tanzania: The Trials of Christopher Mtikila
Journal of Political Science and International Relations
Volume 3, Issue 2, June 2020, Pages: 26-35
Received: Mar. 24, 2020; Accepted: Apr. 27, 2020; Published: May 28, 2020
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Michael Frank Lofchie, Department of Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
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Conflicts over the permissible limits on speech that weaponizes racial, religious, and ethnic identities are a global phenomenon. Tanzania’s constitutional and legal debates over this matter are a microcosm of a global dialogue. Since the early years of independence, Tanzania has imposed constitutional and legal restrictions on speech that speech that espouses ethnic, religious, or racial divisions. These restrictions are the surviving portion of founder-President Julius Nyerere’s multi-faceted effort to construct a multi-cultural political environment. Tanzania’s early leaders were deeply aware that ethnic rivalries had come to cominate the political life of other countries in their region. They were determined that Tanzania should become and remain the non-Sudan, non-Rwanda, and non-Kenya of Eastern Arica. They did so by introducing constitutional and restrictions on ethnic political appears into the country’s constitution and electoral laws. Since independence, each iteration of the Tanzanian Constitution has forbidden the registration of political parties that base their electoral appeal on these forms of speech. Tanzania has also embedded these limitations in its electoral laws, which limit candidacy for electoral office, at both national and local levels, to candidates nominated by registered parties. These limitations have given rise to more than twenty years of constitutional litigation. This article presents a study of the key constitutional cases. The methodology of this article is a close examination of a series of trials in which Tanzania’s constitution and electoral laws have been subjected to litigation. Four trials are of utmost significance: two, before the Tanzanian High Court; one, before the Tanzania Court of Appeal, and one before the African Court of Human and People’s Rights. Despite adverse court rulings, Tanzania’s political leaders appear determined to retain the restrictive portions of their constitution and electoral system; these remain in place to the present time.
Human Rights, Ethnic Politics, Tanzania, Political Trials, Multiculturalism, Freedom of Speech
To cite this article
Michael Frank Lofchie, Contesting Constitutional Multi-Culturalism in Tanzania: The Trials of Christopher Mtikila, Journal of Political Science and International Relations. Vol. 3, No. 2, 2020, pp. 26-35. doi: 10.11648/j.jpsir.20200302.11
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This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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