Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Despite Tanzania's strength in political stability and national unity, the East African country faces the challenge of sustaining the nearly 50-year Union created out of the merger of Tanganyika (on the mainland) and the off-coast Isles of Zanzibar, according to a review report released here by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).
With the return in 1992 to a multiparty state, the dual issues of the constructive management of diversity and the state of the Union came to the fore of current debates on public affairs and the future of Tanzania, the APRM report observed.
"This future hinges on how constructively these interrelated issues can be managed as they pose inherent challenges and opportunities for moving the country forward with consolidated democracy and people-centred development.
"The successful management of these issues is critical for the country to sustain its political stability, economic development and social cohesion among the various ethnic, regional, religious class, and urban/rural divides," said the report.
According to the APRM, Tanzanians should view the ongoing national constitutional review process as an opportunity to address and resolve the challenges and important matters arising from the unfolding dynamics of the multiparty state, the neo-liberal opening up, and the expansion of economic and social-political spaces in the country.
Other key challenges that Tanzanians face, the report said, were redefining the role of the state; strengthening economic management and the investment governance framework; promoting inclusive growth and structural transformation of the economy; addressing implementation capacity gaps; reducing aid dependence; managing political and social change; and promoting empowerment and entrepreneurship.
The APRM report noted that Tanzania's strengths lie in political stability and national unity, religious tolerance, a youthful population as well as in minerals, land and other natural resources.
"Although ongoing private-public partnerships in Tanzania will increase national self-reliance, more needs to be done to wean the country off foreign aid," the APRM country review mission to Tanzania pointed out in the report.
The mission, led by Barrister Akere Muna, toured Tanzania from 2-23 March 2012 and it comprised 21 prominent African experts from APRM partner institutions -- the African Development Bank, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the UN Development Programme as well as members of the African Peer Review Secretariat.
Their report said that challenges in promoting and protecting human rights in Tanzania were symptomatic of the wider challenge of forging sustainable democracy and development through constitutional government, the rule of law and political pluralism.
"A cause for concern in this respect is the fact that the 1997 Constitution and legislation provide for few democracy promoting institutions in the country," the report said, naming the institutions as the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance, the Combating and Prevention of Corruption Bureau, the Ethics Secretariat, the National Electoral Commission, and the Registrar of Political Parties -- all of which have limited independence and work under considerable constraints.
Regarding natural resources management, the report observed nine areas of concern during the APR team's consultations with stakeholders: These were overly generous tax advantages, tax evasion and national revenue losses; bad contracts; low levels of accountability and transparency; environmental irresponsibility; low labour impact and human rights abuse; low integration with other economic sectors; crowding out local investors and weak economic impact; and government's lack of capacity to effectively regulate and administer the sector.
"The government of Tanzania should consider re-examining the new mining industry laws so as to re-assure stakeholders and the public at large that governance ills in the sector are being addressed," the report recommended.
-0- PANA AR/VAO 27Jan2013