Two years into his rule, Tanzanian President John Magufuli has some unexpected new fans: his political opponents. His chief rival in the 2015 vote, Edward Lowassa, has praised his reforms and urged others to support them.
Another challenger became one of his regional commissioners, while two opposition lawmakers recently defected to the ruling party and will run as candidates in February by-elections.
These could be signs that Magufuli, who’s nicknamed “the bulldozer,” is finding popular support for his bids to tackle graft and challenge foreign companies like Barrick Gold Corp. and Bharti Airtel Ltd. for more revenue.
But, following the arrests of other politicians and shuttering of several news outlets, some analysts say it also points to the decline of political dissent.
Tanzania’s opposition was always limited. Magufuli’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi party and its earlier iterations have ruled ever since the nation was unified in 1964, winning all five multi-party elections that began in 1995.
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