Understanding the role of Power, Identity, Communication and Trust in preventing and countering violent extremism in Somalia

*The following article provides a summary of a chapter contributed to Extremisms in Africa Vol 3 co-authored by myself, Fatma Ahmed, and Jem Thomas entitled Using evidence-based research to directly improve P/CVE programming: A Case Study of a Social Network Analysis in Somalia.

Across the community of practitioners, policymakers, researchers and academics involved in Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE), laments are often heard of a paucity of deep research in the discipline. There are claims that projects are too often based upon a weak solid-evidence base, that researchers are too removed from practitioners (and vice versa), and that research is often unrelated to realities on the ground. Thus we decided, within the confines of an existing project in Somalia, to examine the benefits of deep primary research, and how such might go some way to tackling these issues.

Our case study analysed the utility of Social Network Analysis (SNA), a tool which maps relationships and flows between people, groups, organisations, and other connected information. The research and project design were conducted by Albany Associates, funded by the US Department of State. Albany partnered with civil society organisations (CSOs) in four Somali districts: Garowe, Mogadishu, Baidoa and Kismayo. These CSOs identified 175 research participants (aged between 18-35, both employed and unemployed), assessed the validity of the data, and helped with project implementation.

There are claims that projects are too often based upon a weak solid-evidence base, that researchers are too removed from practitioners (and vice versa), and that research is often unrelated to realities on the ground.

Somalia is a highly complex environment, within which historical, political and social dynamics have been exploited by violent extremist groups such as al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State. The research conducted was part of a wider project to prevent violent extremism within the country through strategic communications. The analysis of the findings found three main themes: Power and Identity, Communications and Trust.


Power and Identity

Through our research, we identified power and identity as important factors in the radicalisation process, borne of unemployment and insecurity. These latter factors were identified as the most common frustrations and concerns perceived by the participants.

In Somalia, youth unemployment is high, reported to be as high as 75% (exact statistics are difficult to ascertain). Unemployment is often intertwined with identity and a sense of self-worth; contributing to society can assist in avoiding a sense of marginalisation by a community. Al-Shabaab has used this to recruit new members, offering both wages and material goods which can give those youth who join status, power and an identity previously missing.  Equally, insecurity leads to a sense of powerlessness. The research found a majority of the participants in rural areas did not feel represented within their political system. In a context where they cannot rely on the government, al-Shabaab offer an enticing alternative, particularly among the youth: protection to recruited individuals and their families, and a sense of empowerment.

In Somalia, youth unemployment is high, reported to be as high as 75%.


Once these frustrations and concerns were understood, it was vital to understand how and where individuals communicate, consume and share information. In the context of strategic communication and P/CVE, we often speak of counter and alternative narratives. We understood that in our programme, the role of narratives is crucial, especially when an extremist group uses them to influence popular perceptions. Our SNA findings provided an understanding of the information ecology of our participants and wider audiences.

We understood that in our programme, the role of narratives is crucial, especially when an extremist group uses them to influence popular perceptions.

The SNA found that across the four regions, a majority of respondents have access to smart phones, and radio is commonly used. Further, there is a high reliance on friends and families, not only to voice concerns and frustrations to, but also to turn to for advice and information. From our analysis, it is clear Al-Shabaab exploits networks to recruit and radicalise vulnerable communities. These insights into communication channels allowed us to target our interventions, ensuring the alternative and counter narratives reached our audience through the appropriate means and mediums.


We found that, unsurprisingly, the strongest trust relationship is between friends and family members. Trust levels ascribed to religious leaders were not uniform across the regions, as was also the case, for trust in international media.  The SNA also demonstrated which sources for trusted advice were not related; individuals were not at all likely to seek advice from associations/groups. Not one respondent cited NGOs and Human Rights CSOs as sources of advice.

Trust is fundamental in any P/CVE project, enabling predictability, community and collaboration, and a prerequisite for social order.

Trust is fundamental in any P/CVE project, enabling predictability, community and collaboration, and a prerequisite for social order. By examining patterns of which influencers are connected (or not), it is possible to infer an underlying pattern of advice-seeking relationships, and hence a degree of trust, among the respondents. Outside family and friends, our research indicated highly complex trust networks, varying across the regions, worthy of further, deeper examination.  Notably, when it comes to trust, a ‘one-size-fits all’ approach appeared insufficient, with local sociocultural factors having considerable sway.  However, where possible, our programme activities used these localised trust networks to communicate through.

Impact on programming and conclusion

The SNA gave the programme designers a deep, contextually rich sense of the target audience within which P/CVE activities operate. No campaign would succeed without knowledge on where people receive information, or who is trusted to deliver those messages. Alternative or counter narratives would be unsuccessful if there was not an understanding of what leads individuals to be radicalised.

This knowledge led to demonstrable impact. Beneficiaries previously afraid to speak out about al-Shabaab dedicated themselves to it, Imams who initially refused to speak openly on the radio about violent extremism requested to do so by the end of the project. One partner organisation trained youth to become Peace Ambassadors; they received more applications than needed and are planning to run similar programmes in the future to meet the demands.

Beneficiaries previously afraid to speak out about al-Shabaab dedicated themselves to it, Imams who initially refused to speak openly on the radio about violent extremism requested to do so by the end of the project.

Social science research methodologies, such as a SNA, can provide significant advantages and insights in addressing “push” factors and informing alternative-narrative campaigns. Local expertise and knowledge are an absolutely critical part of that research process. As Albany has long championed, “make it theirs”  – empower local people to engage with and solve their own issues in their own contexts.  This equally applies to ground research. Without serious local insight, even if it takes time and resources, no project will succeed.


We’d love to hear from you! Join The Wicked Conversation by leaving your comments below, or send your letter to the editor to stephen@gga.org.


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LAURA NETTLETON is the senior monitoring and evaluation specialist at Albany Associates. She has conducted research in Somaliland, Kenya, Uganda, Tunisia and across the western Balkans. She comes from a communications background and holds a Master’s in Conflict, Security and Development from King’s College, London, as well as a Bachelor’s in Anthropology and Conflict Studies from Exeter University.

Going deep into Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado extremism

To counter violent extremism in places such as Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado properly, it’s necessary to understand the root causes of such conflicts and how mining operations can worsen them

Since October 2017, Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique has been the site of an escalating insurgency, led by Islamist militant group Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jammah (ASWJ), which has claimed the lives of about 1,500 people and displaced 310,000.

On August 12 militants captured the port of Mocímboa da Praia, 60km south of the Afungi peninsula, where major liquid natural gas (LNG) export facilities are being developed for offshore reservoirs, reviving concerns about the effect of the conflict on LNG projects.

Both the government and mining companies routinely emphasise the enormous economic opportunity the LNG projects will bring to Mozambique and the “trickle down” potential they have for communities in terms of “job creation, supply and associated services industries”.

In reality, however, mining operations have routinely failed to benefit local communities. Many such projects have created unmet economic expectations, generated human rights violations, reinforced ethno-religious inequalities and dispossessed local communities of their land.

In the case of Cabo Delgado, several analysts and President Filipe Nyusi himself have attributed the conflict to high levels of poverty and unemployment, and noted that these conditions are being exploited by foreign and local militants looking to recruit members. So rather than asking what impact the conflict will have on the LNG sector, we should ask what impact the LNG sector is having on local communities if we are to better understand how to prevent and counter violent extremism.

Unemployment and poverty alone do not predict the emergence of violent extremist organisations. Several studies show that relative deprivation, perceptions of marginalisation and discrimination, violation of human rights and a history of hostility between identity groups are far more relevant in predicting where such groups will emerge and how they will recruit from local populations.

But when mining companies enter regions where these issues are already present, they can greatly aggravate them.

The dark side of coal mining

In Mozambique’s coal-rich Tete province many of the local communities that were resettled due to mining operations have faced significant and sustained disruptions in obtaining food, water and work.

In 2015, Oxfam and the University of Queensland’s Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining published a study of the resettlement of 736 households (about 3,680 people) to make way for the Benga coal mine. It provides an insight into how poorly planned and chaotic these processes can be when there is a surge of foreign interest and competition that creates a context of rapid economic growth, limited regulatory capacity and intense pressure on land availability.

In 2011, Rio Tinto bought the mine for $3.7bn from Riversdale Mining. Three years later, after recognising an impairment of $2.86bn, it sold the mine to an Indian conglomerate for $50m — less than 1.35% of the original price. During this period, a poorly planned and chaotic resettlement process was forced upon local communities, with disastrous consequences.

The study found: “In addition to food and water insecurity and the loss of supplementary income, the stress and trauma associated with forced displacement has fractured social networks and eroded trust between community members, local leaders, and company and government representatives.

“Uncertainty about the future, limited access to information and deficiencies in remedy processes further diminish the likelihood of recovery in a low-capacity environment.”

Unsurprisingly, there have been several major protests by affected communities, many of them violent.

Ruby ructions in Montepuez

In April 2009 rubies were discovered near the city of Montepuez in Cabo Delgado. By the end of 2010 thousands of artisanal miners, or garimpeiros, were mining the deposits.

In June 2011, Mwiriti Limitada, a Mozambican company owned by army Gen Raimundo Pachinuapa, a senior member of ruling party Frelimo, and London-based Gemfields signed a 25%-75% joint venture agreement to form Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM).

MRM subsequently won mining rights to a 34,000ha concession.

Over the next three years, multiple instances came to light of artisanal miners allegedly being beaten, shot and buried alive by the Mozambican police, the country’s environment protection agency and private security companies.

There were also cases of local communities being forcibly removed from their land and of villages being razed to make way for MRM mining activities.

In 2018, while denying liability, Gemfields publicly recognised that “instances of violence have occurred on and around the MRM licence area, both before and after Gemfields’ arrival in Montepuez”.

The company then agreed to pay £5.8m to settle a case, brought before the London Supreme Court, in which 273 complainants alleged human rights abuses.

Back in Mozambique, there was little judicial action. The attorney-general announced an investigation, but it was never concluded. No serious steps were taken to seek justice for victims or to put policies in place to address the use of force against communities affected by the extractive industry.

Fallout in the Rovuma Basin

In 2010 significant deposits of high-quality natural gas were found off the coast of Cabo Delgado. Today the province is home to Africa’s three largest LNG projects: the $20bn Mozambique LNG Project led by Total; the $4.7bn Coral FLNG Project led by ENI and ExxonMobil; and the $30bn Rovuma LNG Project led by ExxonMobil, ENI and CNPC.

Hundreds of families have been forced to resettle away from their ancestral farmland and fishing grounds to make way for onshore support facilities for the projects.

A March 2020 report by environmental body Justiça Ambiental argues that the resettlement process was deeply flawed: communities were not adequately consulted, lacked knowledge about their rights and were too intimidated to voice discontent for fear of retribution.

Speculative investing in land in anticipation of the gas boom — often by Frelimo elites — has also fuelled resentment among villagers, who continue to lose access to land and sustainable livelihoods.

In rural areas particularly, land is inextricably linked not only to livelihoods but also to identity, culture and history.

Some of the strongest research on violent extremism, by scholars such as psychologist John Horgan, suggests that radicalisation is a process deeply connected with identity. In this context land dispossession may be particularly damaging to the psychological, social, and cultural resources that sustain a sense of wellbeing and bolster resilience to radicalisation.

The displacement and marginalisation of coastal communities in Cabo Delgado is especially concerning, given pre-existing ethno-religious fault lines.

The Cabo Delgado coastal zone has traditionally been occupied by the Muslim Kimwani-speaking people, who rely predominantly on trading, fishing and seafaring.

Many Muslims in the province backed Frelimo’s independence struggle against the Portuguese. However, since the first multiparty elections in 1994, Kimwani speakers have tended to vote for Renamo, and results in Mocímboa da Praia have been close.

As journalist Joseph Hanlon writes: “Local Muslim leaders have always been annoyed that their role in the independence struggle was not recognised, and they see the largely Christian Makonde speakers from Mueda and Muidumbe districts dominating Frelimo and moving into the coastal areas.”

Today, the Makonde form the local elite in Cabo Delgado, while the Kimwani-speaking people are among the poorest in the province and the most negatively affected by the LNG projects.

It is unlikely that the substantial number of jobs created by the LNG projects will go to local coastal communities, given low levels of formal education and the investment in training and support needed to equip community members with the requisite skills.

Any poverty reduction from jobs that do go to these communities has likely already been offset by the thousands of local citizens who have lost access to fishing grounds and small-scale agricultural production.

For communities living in the region, the security situation has deteriorated significantly over the past two years. Not only have they been victim to dozens of attacks by ASWJ, but the region has become highly securitised. Local communities report “living [in] constant fear of mistreatment by the military and by private security actors rather than feeling protected from the attacks”.

In late August, Total’s subsidiary in the region announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the government. The government will deploy a joint task force from the defence and security forces (FDS) to ensure security. In return, the Mozambique LNG project will provide logistical support to the FDS, including equipment and subsidies for troops.

As Mozambique’s Centre for Democratic Development notes: “In allowing the deployment of FDS troops to protect private interests in exchange for monetary payments, the government is privatising the FDS services and, consequently, violating the Defence & Security Policy.”

The FDS is already stretched beyond the point where it can effectively protect communities in Cabo Delgado.

While the defence of strategic interests is one of the fundamental roles of the ministry of defence, it is easy to see how this relationship between the military and LNG sector would be viewed differently by a local population exposed to violence at the hands of armed groups, private military companies and government security forces on a weekly basis.

The UN secretary-general’s plan of action to prevent violent extremism emphasises the need for a “whole of society” response, including sustainable development, humanitarian action and upholding human rights and the rule of law.

In Mozambique in particular, the mining sector has an outsized responsibility to prevent and counter violent extremism.

Mining companies will have to work with the government to tackle the grievances already generated by the sector — particularly around disputed resettlement processes and human rights violations — and work to address the underlying causes of extremism.

Natural gas revenues will only begin to accrue by 2024, so there is still time for Mozambique to prioritise sustainable development, inclusive growth and better policies to manage large extractive industry investments.

An Angolan scenario, where a political elite captures all the local content opportunities, will only serve to increase grievances and swell the ranks of the insurgency.

This article first appeared in the Financial Mail here


Stephen Buchanan-Clarke is a security analyst with several years of experience working in both conflict and post-conflict settings in Africa, primarily on issues of peace and security; transitional justice and reconciliation; democratisation and governance; and preventing and countering violent extremism. He currently serves as head of the Human Security and Climate Change (HSCC) project at Good Governance Africa and is a co-editor of the Extremisms in Africa anthology series.

Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa

9th Tana Forum | 19-24 October | #TanaForum #TanaOnline

1. Introduction: Concept and origin

With the aim of playing a crucial role in bringing about sustainable peace and contributing to the implementation of the African Union Tripoli Declaration of August 2009, the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) at Addis Ababa University convenes an annual flagship security conference called the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa, now popularly known as the Tana Forum. This initiative is a response to the Tripoli Declaration’s appeal for “African-centred solutions” and the treatment of peace and security as a collective “intellectual challenge.”

Since it was first initiated in collaboration with eminent African personalities, including Meles Zenawi, the late Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Tana Forum has emerged as an independent and informal gathering of African decision-makers, leaders of thought, stakeholder groups and their larger constituencies for an open discussion on the pressing peace and security issues and challenges facing the continent.

2. Overall and specific objectives

The overall objective of the Tana Forum is to serve as a platform where African peace and security issues are discussed in order to allow high-level decision-makers within and outside the continent develop new and innovative solutions to the myriad peace and security situations confronting the continent.

Specifically, the Forum aims at:

• Providing opportunities to decision-making leaders and institutions to exchange experiences and insights on peace and security issues among themselves with a view to gaining new perspectives required to resolve critical peace and security problems;

• Giving opportunities to political decision-makers to interact and consult with a critical mass of African constituency and key global actors in the peace, security and development sectors;

• Contributing to an open and substantive debate on peace and security issues of strategic importance to the continent vis-à-vis the rest of the world;

• Communicating with and listening to “profound African voices on the ground” on various dimensions and components of peace and security concerns across the continent, thus facilitating the much-desired inclusive dialogue among governments and other African security stakeholders;

• Sensitising and mobilisng a broad spectrum of actors and stakeholders to promote awareness of, and the imperative for, African ownership of peace and security solutions.

3. Expected results

In achieving its main and specific objectives, the Forum will result in:

• The continuous conceptualisation and projection of the peace and security issues affecting the continent from the perspective of African citizens and governments. In that regard, substantial attention will be given to the emerging body of “home-grown” African approaches to peace and security challenges and prospects;

• The building of a vibrant and broad-based constituency on peace and security issues through the establishment of non-threatening platforms for dialogue, networking and exchange of information between policy-makers, researchers and practitioners. To sustain such platforms, a cross-section of leaders from different sectors will be called upon to act as interlocutors and champions with a view to mobilising “top-down” as well as “bottom-up” African voices on the peace and security priorities the continent should be pursuing;

• Progressively engaging Africa in the strategic and pro-active management of peace and security in the continent. Key to that effort will be the development of foresight capacities throughout relevant national, regional and continental organisations across the public, private and civil society sectors.

4. Forum strategy

Participation: The Forum will bring together high-level decision-makers on peace and security drawn from the governmental spheres (HoSGs, AU organs and RECs); non-African regional institutions (UN, EU); the African private sector and civil society networks as well as scholars and practitioners of peace and security.

Discussion format: Discussions will be designed in order to: (i) facilitate a seamless exchange of views and experiences in an open, informal and independent manner, (ii) be action-oriented and forward looking, and (iii) maintain its very essence as a consultative, rather than decision-making, forum. The format will mostly be in the form of interactive panel discussions that actively includes and involves all participants. The Forum and its related events will be organised virtually from 19-24 October, 2020.

Impact and effectiveness: The Forum is convened on an annual basis. It has, in the short period of its existence, become a flagship platform and institution in its own right. This contributes to a continuous dialogue among top African leaders and various stakeholder groups. It enables leaders to explore options for innovative and joint action in peace and security. The Forum also allows for trust building among key players who would often only meet in settings that are mediated and/or constrained by diplomatic protocol.

5. Tana Board

Current board members serving for a three-year term:

H.E. John Dramani Mahama (Chairperson), Former President, Republic of Ghana

H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, Former Prime Minister, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

H.E. Dr. Joyce Banda, Former President, Republic of Malawi

Amb. Lakhdar Brahimi, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, People’s Republic of Algeria and former United Nations and Arab League  Special Envoy to Syria

Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Austria/Burkina Faso

Amb. Soad M. Shalaby, Director General, Egyptian African Centre for Women (EACW), Egypt

Mr. Alain Foka, Journalist, Radio France International, France/Cameroon

H.E. Catherine Samba-Panza, Former President, Central African Republic

Prof. Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba, Former Director and Chief Executive Officer, Kenya School of Laws, Kenya

Former board members:

• H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Federal Republic of Nigeria (former Chairperson)

• H.E. Thabo Mbeki, former President of the Republic of South Africa

• H.E. Pierre Buyoya, former President of the Republic of Burundi

• Prof. Andreas Eshete, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister with the rank of a Minister, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (former Deputy Chairperson)

• Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Director General, World Health Organization and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

• Prof. Ndioro Ndiaye, former Minister for Social Development/former Minister for Women’s, Children’s and Family Affairs, Republic of Senegal

• Ms. Betty Bigombe, former State Minister of Water Resources, Republic of Uganda and former Director of Fragility, Conflict and Violence, World Bank

• H.E. Hirut Zemene, Former State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

• Prof. ‘Funmi Olonisakin, Vice President/Principal (International), King’s College London and Founding Director, African Leadership Centre

• Prof. Mahmood Mamdani, Executive Director, Makerere Institute of Social Research, Uganda

• Prof. Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Professor at Columbia University, Department of Philosophy and Francophone Studies, USA

• Amb. Berhane Gebre-Christos, Former Diplomat, Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopia

• H.E. Temesgen Tiruneh, President, Amhara National Regional State, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Former Director General, Information Network Security Agency (INSA)

• Dr Hashim Tewfik, Former Deputy Director, National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), Ethiopia

• H.E. Luísa Dias Diogo, Former Prime Minister, Republic of Mozambique

6. The Technical Committee

The Technical Committee’s role is to provide advice to the Tana Secretariat on agenda setting and the organization of the Forum. The Committee aims to advise the Secretariat on procedures and content to strengthen the Forum’s capacity to generate fruitful discussions and give participants a meaningful experience. The current members of the Technical Committee are:

  • Mr. Alex Ratebaye Tordeta (Chairperson)- Chad – Deputy Chief of Staff, African Union Commission
  • Dr. iur Mehari Taddele Maru – Ethiopia – International Consultant on African Union affairs and a Research Fellow at the NATO Defense College
  • Ms Semiha Adbdulmelik – Ethiopia – Governance and Policy Analyst/former Senior Political Affairs Officer, Peace and Security Department, African Union Commission
  • Ms Hafsa Maalim – Kenya – Senior Horn of Africa Analyst at International IDEA, African Union Peace and Security Department
  • Ms Hannah Tsadik – Ethiopia – Director of Global Policy, Life & Peace Institute
  • Dr. Jide M. Okeke – Nigeria – Regional Programme Coordinator, Regional Programme for Africa, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Dr. George Mukundi – Kenya/South Africa – CEO, Maendeleo Group
  • Ms. Haja Saramba Kandeh – Sierra Leone – Legal and Gender Associate, AIDS-Free World
  • Dr. Yonas Adaye – Ethiopia – Director, Institute for Peace and Security Studies
  • Mrs Michelle Ndiaye (Ex-Officio) – Senegal – Former Director, Africa Peace and Security Programme, Institute for Peace and Security Studies and Former Head of the Tana Forum Secretariat.

7. The Tana Forum Secretariat

The Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, acts as the Forum’s Secretariat. Parallel to the Forum and hosting its Secretariat, IPSS hosts the Africa Peace and Security Programme (APSP), a joint project with the African Union. The APSP mission is to build African capacities to develop and implement African-led solutions in the peace and security sector. In this context, the outcomes of the Forum will also feed into and inform the Institute’s activities in education, research and policy dialogues.

8. Forum Status

The maiden Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa took place from 14 to 15 April 2012 in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on the theme “Managing Diversity and State Fragility.” It attracted current and former Heads of State and Government, distinguished leaders of regional and sub-regional bodies, representatives from the private sector, concerned civil society from Africa, eminent personalities from politics and media, representatives of African and non-African multi-lateral bodies, and other important partners attended the Forum.

The 2nd edition of the Forum took place from 20 to 21 April 2013 in the same location. Stakeholders met to discuss the theme “Security and Organized Crime in Africa”, and to pay tribute to the Forum’s foremost champion, the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi. The annual Meles Zenawi Lecture Series was also established this year.

The 3rd Tana Forum took place from 26 to 27 April 2014 in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, and discussed a timely and salient topic for the continent, the “Impact of Illicit Financial Flows on Peace and Security in Africa”. The Forum’s annual Meles Zenawi Lecture paid tribute to Africa’s greatest icon, the late President Nelson Mandela.

The 4th Tana Forum met under the theme of “Secularism and Politicized Faith” and took place from 18 to 19 April 2015 in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. African Heads of State and stakeholders together with eminent leaders drawn from all religious sectors. The annual Meles Zenawi Lecture paid tribute to the influential advocate of Pan-Africanism, Kwame Nkrumah.

The 5th Tana Forum convened on 16 to 17 April 2016 under the theme “Africa in the Global Security Agenda”. Following the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, it explored Africa’s role in the international security arena. In addition, the annual Meles Zenawi Lecture debated the legacy of Patrice Lumumba.

The 6th Tana Forum was convened on 22 to 23 April 2017 under the theme ‘’Natural Resource Governance in Africa”. Whereas debates around the governance of natural resources have understandably been fixated within the extractive sector, the 6th Tana Forum broadened the scope to include issues around the governance of other critical natural resources, especially land, water, the seas, and forests and biodiversity. The Forum’s annual Meles Zenawi Lecture paid tribute to the Nobel Peace Prize winner and Kenyan environmental and political rights advocate, late Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai.

The 7th Tana Forum took place on 21 to 22 April 2018 on the theme “Ownership of Africa’s Peace and Security Provision: Financing and Reforming the African Union”. In a rapidly changing global and African policy environment, there is an obvious need for more powerful and effective AU and allied institutions with the capacity to assume forward-looking leadership and ownership of continental and global peace and security agenda. The Forum’s annual Meles Zenawi Lecture paid tribute to late Gamal Abdel Nasser, Former President of Egypt.

The 8th Tana Forum, which took place from 4 to 5 May 2019 in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, discussed the theme of “Political Dynamics in the Horn of Africa: Nurturing the Emerging Peace Trends”. In line with recent political developments in the Horn of Africa and the multiplier effects of the nudge towards rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the event touched upon a wide range of governance, security, developmental issues in the region, and also deliberated on ways to support, advance and consolidate them. The annual Meles Zenawi Lecture paid tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid activist and politician.

The 9th Tana Forum, will take place virtually from 19 to 24 October 2020 on the theme “The AfCFTA: Revitalizing Pan Africanism for Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa”. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is believed to be an unprecedented initiative to generate vast economies of scale on an intra-continental basis, principally by eliminating 90 per cent of tariffs on goods and significantly reducing non-tariff barriers (NTBs) on merchandise and services, such as differences in licensing regimes and regulatory standards. The CFTA provides stakeholders across various industries with the opportunity for large-scale production and access to continental market inputs both in terms of natural and human resources. Through the coordination and facilitation of trade policies and instruments across RECs and across Africa in general, the agreement aims to promote and expedite regional and continental integration processes both in economic and socio-cultural terms. The Annual Meles Zenawi Lecture Series will pay tributes to the late former President of the Republic of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa; peacemaker and pan-African advocate, as well as Professor Thandika Mkandawire; Malawian economist and intellectual giant.

According to the Secretariat’s policy, participation is strictly by invitation only and as such invitation is non-transferable. A maximum of 500 invited participants are expected to attend the 2020 Tana Forum. For more information please visit our website www.tanaforum.org or forward enquiries to the organizing team at tanaforum2020@ipss-addis.org.

Watch below as Good Governance Africa’ SADC Executive Director Chris Maroleng concludes the security conference

Video courtesy of Tana Forum

Tanzania election: Pre and election day developments October 27 – 28

A Tanzania National Electoral Commission official prepares ballot boxes as early morning queues of voters start to form at Wazo Hill polling station in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on October 28, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

Polling Stations

  • Polling stations opened on 28 October at 07:00 and voters will have until 16:00 to cast their ballots. The results are expected to be released one week from today.
  • The opposition has raised claims that their party agents have been denied entry into some polling stations – Civic United Front (CUF), the National Convention for Construction and Reform – Mageuzi (NCCR) and ACT-Wazalendo agents in Ngamiani South, Zanzibar were taken into police custody after they reportedly blocked voters from entering the polling station because they had been denied access.

Election Campaign Concerns

  • On the eve of election day opposition candidate, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad, of ACT-Wazalendo in Zanzibar, was arrested as he attempted to cast his ballot early. He was later released from police custody.
  • Deogratias Munishi (Head of Foreign Affairs of CHADEMA) tweeted on 27 October that “Tundu Lissu is supposed to address his final Presidential Campaign Rally in Dar es Salaam today. #TCAA have rejected issuing permit for his chopper to land in Dar es Salaam from Kilimanjaro. He’ll now fly without landing permit to teach authorities a lesson!”
  • CHADEMA officials on 28 October claimed on that its parliamentary candidate for Kawe in Dar es Salaam, Kalima Mdee was under police custody just hours after the polling stations opened.

Election Violence

  • Voters clashed with security forces on Monday 26 October in an attempt to stop them from distributing ballot boxes. Reports allege that the boxes contained pre-ticket ballots. Since Monday, 11 people have died due to clashes with Tanzanian security forces. The police are disputing that any deaths occurred due to these clashes.
  • Deogratias Munishi (Head of Foreign Affairs of CHADEMA) tweeted on 27 October that “Chacha Ngabia & Chacha Nyaitoti (CHADEMA’s polling agents) were shot dead this afternoon while attending the final councillorship campaign rally for Matongo Ward in Tarime Rural. The killers (CCM’s Cadres) invaded the rally & started shooting.”



Tanzanian police officers patrol outside Garagara Playground polling station in Mtoni, Zanzibar, on October 28, 2020. PHOTO: PATRICK MEINHARDT/AFP

Internet Shutdown

  • The communications authority in Tanzania ordered telecom companies to suspend bulk short messaging and bulk short calling services over the election period. This included access to social media sites like Twitter and WhatsApp. Opposition parties have relied heavily on these sites to rally against the CCM due to their limited coverage on local news stations and coupled with the restrictions on political gatherings – there is limited freedom of association in a political sense.
  • Internet users across Tanzania have reported that some sites, including WhatsApp and Twitter, are being restricted as millions of people vote in the general election.

International Election Observers

  • The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, on 27 October called for peaceful, inclusive and credible polls. The Chairperson called on all stakeholders, political parties and their supporters to participate in the voting process peacefully and to refrain from any acts of violence. He further urged the authorities to ensure a conducive environment to enable citizens to cast their votes in a safe and peaceful manner.
  • President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation issued a statement on 27 October regarding the general elections in Tanzania:

“In view of the challenges brought about the COVID-19 pandemic, the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) could not be physically deployed to the United Republic of Tanzania. Instead, SADC adopted a virtual approach of consultation with electoral stakeholders in the furtherance of the consolidation of democracy in the region, in accordance with the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections (2015).

I wish to commend the people of the United Republic of Tanzania for the peaceful and exemplary manner in which they have conducted themselves during the election campaign period, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, I urge all citizens to maintain the same spirit as they cast their ballots.”

  • Tanzania Elections Watch – The Panel of Eminent Persons, drawn from East and Southern Africa, continues to monitor developments in Tanzania leading up to the general election and released a statement differing in tone and substance from both that of the AU and the SADC. They condemned the violence that has reportedly escalated in Zanzibar leading up to voting day. They have also raised concerns over the heavy-handed force shown by security forces and the restriction of communication services ahead of the election.


Tanzania – pre-election developments: October 23-26

Election Campaign Concerns

  • Deputy Secretary General for ACT-Wazalendo for Zanzibar, Nassor Ahmed, reportedly went missing for 5 hours on Sunday (25th October) after his vehicle was hit by an unmarked car which then took him away.
  • Leaders of ACT-Wazalendo in Zanzibar led by their Islands’ presidential candidate, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad, warned that they will only accept defeat if Wednesday’s polls are transparent, without any element of rigging. Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police (CP) Zanzibar Mohamed Haji warned that stability and peace will not be compromised, adding that any violator would meet the full wrath of the police.

Election Observers Participation

  • Tanzania’s opposition parties claim the government has made it difficult to accredit thousands of opposition electoral observers who want to ensure the vote is fair. The ACT-Wazalendo warned that the issue could lead to violence, as polling stations won’t be allowed to operate without the observers.

National Electoral Commission Partiality

  • The leader of Tanzania’s main opposition party accused the electoral commission of tampering with voter lists ahead of Wednesday’s general elections. “There’s massive (biometric voter registration) manipulation. Millions of ghost voters and polling stations,” Freeman Mbowe, chairman of the CHADEMA party, wrote on Twitter.

Voter’s Roll Abuse

  • Zitto Kabwe, leader of ACT-Wazalendo, claimed voters had been added to his constituency in the western city of Kigoma. “In my constituency, some 13,830 ghost voters have been added in the list. Some national service soldiers and students have been prepared to vote through these names,” he claimed on Twitter.

Supporters of the Tanzanian opposition political party The Alliance for Change and Transparency (Wazalendo) demonstrate at the end of the last campaign rally in Stone Town, on October 25, 2020, ahead of the national elections. PHOTO MARCO LONGARI/AFP

Security Concerns

  • Islamist State militants attacked a Tanzanian village on the border of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. The raid was in the village of Kitaya, in Mtwara province of Tanzania. 20 people were allegedly beheaded, houses were razed, an armoured vehicle was destroyed, and cash and military equipment was stolen. Three Tanzanian soldiers were also killed. Local news agencies did not report on the attack and President Magufuli is yet to acknowledge the attack on his home soil. Initial media reports claimed it was a case of electoral violence.

International Stakeholders

  • Since 13th October 2020, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has undertaken a series of virtual engagements with key electoral stakeholders in preparation for the General Elections in the United Republic of Tanzania to be held on 28 October 2020. These engagements, in this Member State, follow the decision taken during the Extraordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO) on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, held on 15 September 2020, not to deploy a physical SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) to the United Republic of Tanzania due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • US Congress Resolution has urged the government of Tanzania to respect human rights and constitutional rights and ensure free and fair elections in the Wednesday 28th October 2020 poll. The resolution acknowledged that the government has interfered with political campaigning, restricted media freedoms, undermined the collection and dissemination of national statistics, limited civil society involvement and placed the citizens at risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the denial by the state of its existence.
  • The European Union reiterated its support of the development and prosperity of the people of Tanzania and, in line with Article 4 of the Southern Africa Development Community treaty establishing the principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, reaffirmed its attachment to the process towards the consolidation of democratic institutions. Reports of incidents and limitations in the run-up to the elections are of concern. The EU encourages all parties to work together diligently to enable inclusive, transparent, peaceful and credible elections.
Dr Craig Moffat is Head of Programme: Governance Delivery and Impact at Good Governance Africa.
Monique Bennet is a senior researcher at Good Governance Africa. She has a keen interest in data science, data visualisation and statistics using the R programming language. Throughout her studies, research topics such as development, democracy and the environment within the context of developing countries have been her focus areas.
SIXOLILE NGQWALA holds a Masters of Commerce (MCom) in economics from the University of Fort Hare, where he was involved with the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) in econometric research (econometric modelling, data coding, data mining, data analysis and interpretation). He has a BCom Hon in economics, and an undergraduate degree in Business Management and Industrial Psychology.


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