Criticised for LGBT repression, Tanzania leader wins re-election

Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli, whose government has been accused of repeated violations of LGBT people’s rights, today (Nov. 5) was sworn in for another term in office.

From the African Human Rights Media Network

President John Magufuli and Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan at the swearing- in ceremony today. (Ippmedia photo)

 By Kikonyogo Kivumbi

He took the oath of office today in the administrative capital, Dodoma.

Location of Tanzania in East Africa.
Location of Tanzania in East Africa.

Local media is reporting that this is the first time a Tanzanian president has been sworn in from the new capital, Dodoma City, which was built to replace the historic capital, Dar es Salaam. Magufuli’s new term ends in 2025.

“I, John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, do solemnly swear that I will execute my duties as the president of the United Republic of Tanzania, with integrity to fulfill the responsibilities of my roles diligently…,” he said in Swahili.

LGBT repression during his administration

The international advocacy group Human Rights Watch recently reported on “the Tanzanian government’s repression of LGBT people and activism, including arbitrary arrests and the use of forced anal exams.”

A victorious Magufuli displays the shield and spear immediately after swearing in. (Maelezo photo)

Tanzania authorities’ repression of LGBT rights activism came in the context of government repression of opposition parties, nongovernmental organizations, and the media ahead of the country’s general elections, HRW said.

Crackdowns on LGBT Tanzanians and on advocates for their human rights and health have been ongoing since 2016. The repression gained international notoriety in 2018, when Paul Makonda, the administrative chief of Dar es Salaam, urged the public to report anyone they thought was a homosexual.

Earlier this year, the United States  banned Makonda from visiting the country for his role in a  crackdown. The U.S. State Department said it was taking the action against Makonda “due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights, which include the flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons.”

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni attended the inauguration ceremony.  He praised Magufuli for his economic programmes, saying that he seen Tanzania moving from an underdeveloped country to middle-class status during Magufuli’s rule.

Upon taking the oath, Magufuli who was cheered on by his supporters held up a ceremonial spear and shield to signify the beginning of his presidency.

President Magufuli (L) during the swearing-in today. (CCM media photo)

Other other dignitaries who attended the swearing-in included: Former Tanzanian Presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Jakaya Kikwete, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Burundi Prime Minister Alaine Bunyoni, Botswana VP Slumber Tsogwane, Mozambique Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário and Zanzibar President Hussein Ali Mwinyi..

Tanzania’s National Electoral Commission declared incumbent Magufuli the winner of last week’s election  with 12.5 million votes (84 percent) against 1.9 million (13 percent) for his main challenger, Tundu Lissu from the leading opposition party, Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo.

Kikonyogo Kivumbi, the author of this article, is the executive director of the Uganda Health and Science Press Association.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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