The last of the five traditional East African Community (EAC) countries to analyze in this research is Tanzania, the bloc’s stalwart southeastern member. Long recognized as a bastion of harmonious stability in spite of its around 120 separate ethnic groups and languages, Tanzania also has a history of regional leadership in the anti-colonial struggle and the fight against apartheid. A country of nearly 50 million people, the UN World Population Prospects 2015 report predicts that it will surge to an astounding 137 million by 2050 before reaching 299 million by the turn of the next century. This makes Tanzania one of the world’s fastest growing countries in a demographic sense, which could predictably lead to major challenges in the coming decades when it comes to food security, physical and social infrastructure, and ethnic stability.
Nevertheless, there’s also the equal chance that Tanzania could become one of the world’s most iconic success stories of this century, especially if it keeps up its IMF-projected rate of 6.9% GDP growth and remains one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. Thus, it shouldn’t be surprising then that China and India are actively competing for influence in this country, with the former constructing a multitude of connective infrastructure projects while the latter has already attained the position of being Tanzania’s chief import and export partner. Both countries are also vying for a share of the East African state’s 1.2 trillion cubic meters of offshore natural gas, which are expected to make it an LNG leader in the next decade. While India’s investments are mostly in commercial enterprises and are less tangible to study in the context of Hybrid War theory, China’s are mostly in the sort of infrastructure projects that form the physical basis of the existing research. They’re also integral components of the New Silk Roads that China is constructing all throughout the continent, and will thus serve as one of the foci of the Hybrid War vulnerability assessment being undertaken.
The other main variable that will be analyzed is the government’s policies in deterring identity discord and maintaining the population’s belief in the inclusiveness of Tanzanian patriotism. If certain groups do not feel that they’re equitable stakeholders in the country’s success, then it’s predicted that they’ll become susceptible to divisive and violent ideologies such as Salafism and separatism. Nobody really knows exactly what Tanzania’s religious statistics are, and the government doesn’t officially keep track of this figure, but estimates vary as widely as 35% Muslim and 30% Christian to 61% Christian and 35% Muslim. Nevertheless, despite differences in the size of Tanzania’s Christian population, each ranged estimate generally agrees that over a third of the country is Muslim and that this group resides mostly along the historic Swahili Coast and Zanzibar. Many of them in the latter territory are also favorable to the Civic United Front (CUF) opposition party, which could become a long-term complicating factor for the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party.
In striving to understand the domestic complexities at play in Tanzania and how the theory of Hybrid War could factor in to manipulate these variables in offsetting China’s infrastructure projects in the country, the research will begin by explaining the essence of Tanzania’s government and the history of regional leadership that the country has enjoyed. After grasping how and why Tanzania came to be such a regional heavyweight, an investigation will be commenced in examining the domestic peculiarities behind why this identity eclectic state has never underwent a period of civil conflict like most of its African peers. The insight gained from this section will be integral in understanding the viability of the Hybrid War scenario for a manufactured “Clash of Civilizations”, though before that, the study will expound on the strategic significance of the most important Chinese-led projects in the country so that the reader can comprehend just how damaging an outbreak of turmoil along Tanzania’s littoral would be to these regional investments.
The Anatomy Of Tanzanian Leadership
Tanzania is indisputably one of the leaders in this part of Africa, but instead of just taking this for granted, it’s useful for observers to know this came to be so that they can appreciate the degree to which a Hybrid War in Tanzania would offset the regional balance. Here are the three components that underpin Tanzanian leadership:
Tanzania advantageously abuts three of Africa’s Great Lakes – Victoria, Tanganyika, and Malawi/Nyasa – which gives it a strong degree of influence over these prized freshwater resources and their fisheries. Perhaps because of this, much of the country’s population is concentrated along the periphery of the country and in the Dar es Salaam-Dodoma-Mwanza corridor that cuts through the center of the country and links the Indian Ocean with Lake Victoria. Another unique feature of Tanzania’s geography is that it’s the only country in the EAC to neighbor all of the other four traditional states in this grouping, not counting of course new member South Sudan.
This has endowed the country with unparalleled infrastructure potential in serving as the connective juncture for the rest of the bloc, a role that it’s more than eager to play with Chinese assistance. In the same vein, it’s also feasible for Tanzania to use its position to project hard and soft power, too, meaning that its expected leadership capacity doesn’t just have to be infrastructure-driven. It’s unlikely that Dodoma will resort to forcible means in asserting its regional leadership, but the fact remains that this is always a strategic possibility in the event of unexpected contingencies, whether they are state-to-state tensions or humanitarian emergencies in the neighboring states (e.g. Burundi).
No analysis of Tanzania’s historical and present regional leadership is complete without mentioning former President Julius Nyerere. The country’s first president, Nyerere peacefully led the former British colony of Tanganyika to independence and then shaped every facet of its society in the ensuing decades. He was an unflinching anti-imperialist and a dependable Chinese ally, two characteristics which complemented the version of Tanzanian socialism that he called Ujamaa. This vision implemented a form of state centralization that led to collectivization and communalization, though with devastating economic consequences to the country.
Nevertheless, it’ll later be revealed just how instrumental Ujamaa was in fostering the sense of unity and togetherness that continues to prevail in Tanzania. This ideology was wielded by the president’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi party into a handy tool for constructing an all-inclusive national identity, but again, there wouldn’t even have been Ujamaa or the one-party state had it not been for Nyerere, the father of the nation. Nyerere most lasting legacy wasn’t just in terms of how he changed his country, but also the example that he provided for other African leaders in demonstrating how an independence-era visionary could balance the maintenance of identity harmony in his ultra-diverse state with a robust foreign policy that actively involved Dodoma in the affairs of its neighbors.
Tanzania took a front and center positon in the Cold War geopolitics of Southern Africa, functioning as one of the Frontline States in the epic struggles against imperialism and apartheid. Nyerere was closely aligned with President Kenneth Kaunda from neighboring Zambia, and together these two pan-Africanist leaders opened up their territories to regional freedom fighters and greatly contributed to their liberation campaigns. The fraternal relations between Tanzania and Zambia would also form the basis for the Chinese-constructed TAZARA railway between them, though this will be thoroughly described in a later section. As for Tanzania’s involvement in hosting regional rebels, it played a particularly important role in minority-ruled Rhodesia (later renamed Zimbabwe), Portuguese Mozambique, and Amin-era Uganda, all while simultaneously supporting the African National Congress (ANC) in apartheid South Africa. During this time, Tanzania also engineered the 1977 Seychelles coup and fought a war against Uganda in 1978-1979, with the latter also evolving into a regime change operation.
The post-Cold War environment saw Tanzania playing a much more peaceful and passive international role. The country was the scene of the 1993 Arusha Accords that attempted to end the Rwandan Civil War. When these ultimately failed and genocide broke over half a year later, the northern city then hosted the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda in a bid to bring the perpetrators to justice. It was also around this time that Tanzania fell victim to the large-scale influx of Weapons of Mass Migration produced by the Great Lakes Crises (the civil wars in Burundi and Rwanda, and the back-to-back international conflicts in the Congo), though as was explained in the preceding chapter about Rwanda, the authorities were well prepared for this eventuality and cooperated with international organizations in mitigating the impact of this human tidal wave.
Right after the turn of the century in 2000, Tanzania partnered up once more with Uganda and Kenya in reviving the East African Community that they had all abandoned back in 1977, and Arusha was selected as the.organization’s capital. In 2008, Tanzania partook in its second limited maritime power projection since the 1977 Seychelles coup by joining the African Union’s intervention force in belatedly putting down the years-long rebellion in the Comoros island of Anjouan. Tanzania’s other multilateral peacekeeping intervention was in the Congo when it again partnered up with the African Union in fighting against the M23 rebels in 2013. Taking account of all of the developments in the post-Cold War reality, Tanzania’s foreign policy has been proven to rest on multilateralism and regional cooperation, though again, just because a pattern has convincingly set in does not mean that it’s unchangeable. Still, though, it appears more than likely that Tanzania will continue to behave as a ‘gentle giant’ in working together with others in overcoming mutual obstacles in the international environment.
The Kenyan-Tanzanian Rivalry:
As an added touch, it’s appropriate to speak on the Kenyan-Tanzanian rivalry when discussing the latter’s regional leadership, since this is a highly relevant topic that will certainly shape intra-EAC relations in the future. The author described this dynamic more thoroughly in a previous piece for Katehon, but to succinctly summarize the main points, Kenya and Tanzania are both competing with one another to be the most influential country in their shared integrational bloc. Both states have impressive economic and leadership potential buoyed by the respective Chinese-supported infrastructure projects that are planned to (or already) traverse through their territories. The Standard Gauge Railway and LAPSSET are Beijing’s main investments in Kenya, while the Tanga, Bagamoyo, and Mtwara Ports, as well as the Central Corridor and TAZARA railways, are China’s equivalents in Tanzania. Without even knowing much about this second category of projects, the reader can easily infer that China is diversifying its investments in Tanzania and engaging in many more of them here than in Kenya, though that shouldn’t automatically lead one to assume that Beijing is ‘taking sides’ in any way.
Instead, and as the previously cited article argues, Tanzania and Kenya can keep their competition at an informal and friendly level so long as neither of their respective regional projects is stonewalled by any of their partners. Herein lies the problem, though, since Uganda recently abandoned its earlier agreed-upon oil export route to Kenya’s Lamu port in favor of redirecting its resources towards Tanga. This generated considerable ill will towards Uganda and Tanzania inside of Kenya, but as it currently stands, this wasn’t enough to dramatically harm pragmatic cooperation between any of these countries. However, the risk exists that any more such disturbances to Kenya’s infrastructural plans – such as Uganda continuing to delay construction of its part of the Standard Gauge Railway or South Sudan ‘pulling an Uganda’ and ditching LAPSSET in favor of Tanga – could spark a strategic security dilemma between Nairobi and Dodoma that would inadvertently threaten the integrational hopes of the EAC as a whole. The tangible effect of an exacerbated rivalry between them could be that the regional organization’s plans to federalize at an undetermined date in the future could be indefinitely put on hold, thus undermining all of East Africa’s relative competitiveness in an increasingly globalized world.
The Secret To Identity Inclusiveness
The most remarkable domestic factor that sets Tanzania apart from almost all of its African peers is that it has never undergone a period of identity conflict. Granted, there have occasionally been some disturbances in Zanzibar and these will certainly be addressed at the end of the research, but by and large, they pale in comparison to anything else that has historically occurred on the continent. When looking at mainland Tanzania, which is where the vast bulk of the population resides, it’s unmistakably peaceful and untouched by violent civil discord. In general, this is because ethnic belonging is not politicized in Tanzania, and that the country’s citizens have learned to deeply resist demagogic outreaches relying on identity rhetoric. Furthermore, a factor which mustn’t ever be forgotten is that no single ethnic group is even remotely close to dominating the country’s affairs, with the largest one – the Sukuma – constituting a measly 16% of the population, while the composite total of this group and its next six-largest counterparts only amounts to about 33% of the country. This reality makes it extremely difficult for any ‘sustainable’ arrangement to take root in which identity politics becomes the key driver of the country’s domestic affairs. Tanzania would simply collapse into a failed assortment of quasi-independent tribal-identifying statelets and cease to function as a viable territorial-political unit.
The peculiarity of how Tanzania was able to avoid civil strife in the decades since its independence is something exceptional enough to devote additional time and resources into studying, and therefore this section of the research will relate to the reader all of the relevant findings that key experts have discovered about this topic. If one remembers the “Law Of Hybrid War”, it’s that manufactured identity conflict is a heightened vulnerability for all of the participating countries along the New Silk Road, and accordingly, anything that can help to defend a country from this sort of asymmetrical turmoil is of unparalleled strategic value to decision makers all across the world. The Tanzanian experience is therefore a priceless example in explaining how a highly diverse country surprisingly managed to avoid the throes of identity conflict for decades, though of course, it should be qualified that this doesn’t mean that it’s indefinitely immune from this virus. “NGOs” (or more accurately, government-organized NGOs or GONGOs) could engage in ‘identity canvassing’ under the guise of being aid workers involved in humanitarian assistance projects. Tanzania is still a comparatively impoverished country and is inordinately dependent on such activities, so the plausible cover is already established for intelligence-influenced “humanitarian” and “democratic” organizations to infiltrate the state and spread divisive identity-focused ideologies.
To proceed with the rest of this highly informative section, the author will summarize the works of prominent researchers in this field, compartmentalizing each further category into an overview of their most relevant publications. After reviewing these pertinent materials, a composite summary will then be presented which posits the theoretical foundations for partially replicating Tanzania’s success in achieving identity harmony.
The Roots Of Ethnic Peace:
Michael Lofchie, professor of political science at UCLA, wrote a research article about “The Roots of Ethnic Peace in Tanzania”. He methodically writes about the cross-cutting nature of the Tanzanian establishment, which evolved from the outset to become a cosmopolitan collection of many separate identity-based groups, though none of which place their possible identity separateness above their patriotic duty. He attributes this to two complementary categories of predisposed factors and proactive policies. To begin with the first one, he speaks thoroughly in depth about the importance of the Swahili language, which Lofchie identifies as an important unifying aspect of Tanzanian society. Importantly,Swahili isn’t a native tongue of any of the country’s ethnic groups, having instead been formed as a composite language from local African vocabulary and Arabic loanwords during the heyday of the slave trade. He also thinks that colonial impacts such as German indirect rule (which essentially steamrolled traditional leaders and their structures) and the UK-led international trusteeship (which prevented the British from overly manipulating social structures) inordinately played a role in shaping an inclusive national identity.
Concerning geography, he recognizes that most of the population is situated around the peripheral regions, thus leaving a relatively empty interior. Tanzania’s vast agricultural richness and sparsely populated territory means that there’s ‘enough to go around for everyone’, and the distance between ethnic groups made it less likely that historical blood feuds would erupt over resources anyhow. Lofchie draws attention to Dar es Salaam and highlights how it’s truly evolved into a multi-ethnic and diverse city. This is particularly important, he says, because it means that no dominant ‘native’ group was able to ascend to power in the former capital and disproportionately exercise power at others’ expense (as had so often happened in many other African countries after independence). This also greatly contributed to Nyerere and the Tanzanian African National Union (TANU, the predecessor of CCM) practicing revolutionary inclusiveness in their independence struggle, instead of the ethno-centrism that regularly characterized other African countries’ national story during this time. Accordingly, Lofchie identifies a form of cultural pluralism that was vigorously strengthened by the socialist principles of Ujamaa. It helped that there was a variability of ethnic identity, which he defines as being an interchange between local (tribal), religious, political, and civic nationalisms that could frequently fluctuates depending on circumstances, though with the latter patriotic identification always remaining predominant.
Addressing the second classification about the proactive policies that the government implemented in promotion of ethnic peace, the expert returns back to Swahili, though this time discussing the reasoning behind the authorities’ decision to make it the official language. He says that this was a very important milestone because it was an equalizer between all of Tanzania’s disparate identities, though one which was totally apolitical and not associated with any given group more so than the rest. The next policy that Lofchie praises is the educational one. He remarks how the government closed down private schools and deliberate made an effort to mix different social and ethnic groups together. He additionally points out how the teachers would emphasize national pride and loyalty to the party, all while reminding students that unity and cooperation were the keys to the national movement. This had the effect of reinforcing a singular, patriotic identity. The other significant policy that the professor explains is the National Service, which was a mandatory five-month military training period before any interested individuals could enter the civil service. He says that participants engaged in such strenuous activities as land clearing, road repair, and school construction, all of which contributed upon completion to a feeling of togetherness among the recruits. This bonding was instrumental in fostering a patriotic civil cadre that cut across Tanzania’s multitude of identity lines.
Continuing with his research, Lofchie elaborates on the electoral policies that were beneficial in achieving the objective of national unity. He recounts how the party was more important than individual candidates, and that each prospective politician had to go through a vigorous vetting process and abide by strict procedural regulations. He writes that some of these requirements were enforced in order “to prevent individuals whose major claim to prominence was local ethnic popularity from rising to national political office or remaining there.” Along with this, the removal of traditional chieftaincies also went a long way in dismantling ethno-centric identity. Tanzania generally has free speech, Lofchie writes, but it still bans political parties from inciting identity separateness and divisiveness along religious, ethnic, and regionalist lines. Talking about yet another governmental policy that he feels was very significant, the researcher makes mention of what he calls the “symbolic role of leadership”. This is described as a system in which the individual decision maker is important, yet still subservient to the party. This prevents a person from climbing the ranks too fast and becoming uncontrollably popular, though Lofchie of course makes an exception for Nyerere, the man who founded this said system.
As prudent as the government’s policies may be and as advantageous as Tanzania’s preexisting situation may have been for national unity, Lofchie still warns that there are several countervailing factors that decision makers need to be aware of. He recognizes that the advances of the past five decades are being modified or in some cases even reversed by the post-Cold War liberalization that the country went through, though he still remains fairly confident that identity harmony will prevail due to each Tanzanian appreciating how much conscious hard work goes into maintaining their national stability. Nevertheless, rising Islamic identity poses a very clear risk to Tanzania, he says, and the divide between Muslims and Christians might even become more pronounced in the future (whether in fact or in perception). The differences between Zanzibar and the Tanganyikan mainland could also emerge as a problem in the future, and this will of course be expanded upon in the last section of the research in dealing with the most likely Hybrid War scenario to afflict the country.
In the face of these obvious challenges, though, Lofchie takes care to remind the reader that Tanzania’s Muslim community is geographically dispersed and cuts across many different classes, races, and even denominational sects (Sunni and Shia). He also notes how Muslims are fairly represented in the National Executive Committee and the National Assembly, the two most powerful decision-making institutions in the country, as well as how two presidents (Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Jakaya Kikwete) shared the Islamic faith. Even though the main CUF opposition party in the country is fairly popular in Zanzibar, the professor says that the much more populous mainlanders don’t share their insular counterparts’ enthusiasm for this group, though of course this could eventually emerge as a source of intensified discord in the future should the semi-autonomous island territory be targeted by a Color Revolution (Korybko’s analysis). In concluding his extensive research, Lofchie remarks that the ruling CCM has been masterful at reinventing itself in the post-Cold War period and continuing to win every national election in spite of the economic collapse that occurred in the 1970s and 80s under its watch. He surmises that this must be because people want familiarity and continuity, that they respect Nyerere’s vision, and that the CCM-led government is still visibly much more effective at preventing identity discord than its Kenyan, Ugandan, Rwandan, and Congolese counterparts are.
An Island Of Stability In Sub-Sahara Africa:
The next expert whose work will be discussed is Alicia Erickson, and she wrote “Peace in Tanzania: An Island of Stability in Sub-Sahara Africa”. A lot of her analysis echoes Lofchie’s, except that she does introduce a few new and interesting elements to the topic. Just like Lofchie, she believes that Nyerere and the CCM played an instrumental role in preserving ethnic peace in Tanzania, pointing specifically to the formalization of Kiswahili as the national language. She also adds that the government’s banning of ethnic terms helped play an influential part in molding a unitary national identity. One of the most decisive things that the Nyerere did, though, was to annunciate the principles of Ujamaa with the 1967 Arusha Declaration. This established a clear national vision and laid the ideological framework for the authorities’ forthcoming policies. Erickson strongly contrasts this with the “tribalism” in Kenya, which did not undergo the experiences of collectivization and communalism. While these policies were beneficial for social and political stability, the expert concludes that they were horrible for the economy.
In relation to the other East African states, Erickson says that Tanzania isn’t as similar as many people might initially think. She says that the widespread identity diversity in ethnicity, religion, and regional locales is deceptive and masks the many differences that the country has with its neighbors. In fact, the only similarity that it does have is its eclectic diversity, which she interestingly argues was a unique strength for Tanzania in the pre-independence era. She convincingly explains that this forced TANU to be diverse and inclusive itself, which in turn fostered an assortment of cosmopolitan elites from the get-go. In order to maintain this identity profile, she writes that Tanzania utilized “political socialization”, which she defines as “focus[ing] on how leaders use media and education systems to mold the views of citizens with certain political ideals.” In popular culture, this is colloquially known as “social engineering”. In wrapping up her research, Erickson shares her main conclusions by writing that unity is best achieved through a common leader with a common vision. She commends Nyerere for responsibly stepping down in 1985 and demonstrating “his dedication to the cause of peace and equality, not to the preservation of his own personal power.”
The lesson to be learned is that a common leader with a common vision should make people believe in the viability and attractiveness of their model, and then bequeath them a functioning likeminded institutional apparatus as a parting legacy, which thus ensures the endurance and sustainability of the leader’s vision (Korybko’s analysis).
The Importance Of Institutions:
Rebecca Tong, an undergraduate researcher at Illinois Wesleyan University, published a research article about “Explaining Ethnic Peace: The Importance of Institutions”. She compares two pairs of neighboring countries – Ghana and the Ivory Coast, and Kenya and Tanzania – in exploring why one of them is very peaceful while the other has a history of violence, theorizing that the chief difference between these similarly composed states is the nature of their institutions. As the reader can already observe, it’s somewhat of a popular activity for Tanzania researchers to compare their country of focus with Kenya, and that’s largely due to the shared Swahili language, the long periods of peace, and the similar levels of demographic diversity within both of these states.
Most of her work deals with elaborating on the three main theories of identity conflict. The first one is primordialism, which essentially says that ethnic conflict is so deeply ingrained within people that it is unchangeable and almost instinctual, suggesting that historic conflicts will always resurface after some time has passed and the right circumstantial triggers have been activated. The second theory is instrumentalism, and this train of thought teaches that identity is consciously and rationally applied by the individual and collectives to achieve maximum benefits, meaning that it could either be pragmatic or a source of competition. Lastly, the final theory that Tong introduces to the reader is constructivism, which is “essentially a bridge between primordialism and instrumentalism” and “posits that ethnicity is a social identification, not an individual one.” In practice this means identity is fluid an can change, whether consciously or unconsciously, and could be influenced by other purposefully applied or inadvertent factors. It also connects identity to structures and institutions.
This last part is important because it forms the basis for Tong’s research. She hypothesizes that “institutions absorb conflicts either by creating peaceful mechanisms or by preventing abuse in political systems.” In connection with this, she describes how there is a pervasive feeling among some Muslims that the elite is disproportionately Christian, but contrarily, Christians fear that more Muslim representation or a more explicit focus on their interests would undermine national unity and create a lobbying group that caters only to their agenda. In seeking to gauge how Tanzanians feel about their institutions, which she believes is the strongest barometer of ethnic peace in the country, Tong used data from other outlets and integrated it into her methodology. She found out that Tanzania, as she hypothesized, has a high rate of societal trust in institutions, and that the citizens also have a great deal of trust in other ethnicities separate from their own. Therefore, she concludes that the Tanzanian elite to not manipulate political and ethnic factors, thus contributing to the country’s lasting stability.
Depoliticized Ethnicity In Tanzania:
The final piece of authoritative literature that will be reviewed is Mrisho Malipula’s “Depoliticized ethnicity in Tanzania: a structural and historical narrative”. The Tanzanian researcher writes that his country only has social and cultural ethnicity, and that there is no political saliency for ethnicity because of the sustained nation-building project that Tanzania has embarked on since independence. This was influenced by pre-colonial and colonial factors, and led to the development of a unique political culture. Malipula ascribes to the ethnic structure argument, which posits that if a country has a few large ethnic groups, then it will be more ethnically polarized because there is a possibility that these blocs are large enough to win elections; reversely, in countries with a wide array of ethnic groupings, politicians must reach out to the myriad ethnic groups and are therefore less likely to engage in ethnic polarization. All of this is ultimately attributable to what he calls a winning minimum coalition, which is the minimum amount of votes that an ethnic coalition would need to win an election.
Malipula analyzes the proportion of each of Tanzania’s 120 ethnic groups in the country and solidly concludes that it is almost impossible for a winning minimum coalition to be achieved. He proves that the two largest ethnic groups combined – the Sukuma and the Nyamwezi – account for only about 25% of the population, and if the next five largest ethnicities are added to the total, then this proposed coalition would only constitute 33% of the country’s citizens, and that’s assuming that every one of them votes for this bloc. The amount of ethnic canvassing that would be required to pass the 50% threshold is enormous, since none of the other 118 ethnicities in the country are more than 4% of the total population. Furthermore, Malipula reminds the reader that state policy and cultural tradition would be totally against this in any case, thus making it even more impossible to pull off. Kenya, however, is very different in this regard and has a history of proving that even smaller tribes could assemble ethnic coalitions and create “super tribes” via what Tong would likely attribute to instrumentalism. Because of the demographic reality in Tanzania, though, Malipula strongly writes that the potential for the politicization of ethnicity is more imaginary than actual.
The next part of the researcher’s writing consists of an explanation about how four separate periods of Tanzanian history were most relevant in the construction of a unified and harmonious identity. He begins by commenting on the pre-colonial era and notes that the mainland had non-centralized ethnic groups, though remarking that this is the opposite of Zanzibar’s Omani slavery system. For all intents and purposes, he specifies that his research deals specifically with the mainland majority of the country unless otherwise stated, as he acknowledges that the situation in the semi-autonomous archipelago is drastically different than it is onshore. Moving along, Malipula addresses the colonial period and describes how the German’s enacted a system of direct administration that weakened the political and economic structures of pre-colonial Tanzanian societies. Zanzibar’s UK-sponsored system of indirect rule, however, retained and strengthened the existing Omani system and its respective elites. After 1920, mainland Tanzania (at the time referred to as Tanganyika) came under the UK’s indirect rule after the end of World War I. This muddled the traditional structures that still existed within the country, but the British didn’t pay too much attention to their new colony and largely neglected it, considering it an imperial backwater due to its lack of economic significance to the crown.
Malipula describes the next period as being one defined by the nationalist movement and the socialist nation-building project. He says that TANU and its allied Tanganyika African Association (TAA) fostered a political culture of unity and inclusiveness, and that Nyerere was very explicit about his opposition to tribal, regional, and racial politics. The expert touches upon the 1967 Arusha Declaration that outlined the principles of Ujamaa and interpreted them as being the socialist path towards “fundamental equality”. Like his academic peers, Malipula also commends the government for making Swahili the national language. He praises the authorities’ decision to downplay ethnic associations in public life and accentuate Tanzanian national identity instead. Like Lofchie, Malipula interprets the policy of compulsory military training and villagization as being beneficial for the country’s unity.
About the post-Cold War period of liberal reform in the 1990s until the present, the researcher remarks how the economic and political changes destroyed the prior centralization that had come to dominate the Tanzanian domestic scene. He recounts how there was a brief period of anxiety about the beginning of the multiparty era, with many people afraid that this will lead to violent divisions within the country. Thankfully, though, the CCM handily won the election and retained political consistency. Malipula attributes their victory to their institutional advantages (e.g. established nationwide canvassing infrastructure), legitimate public support, and their success in reinventing themselves. Moreover, the CCM “stigmatised as tribalist the opposition parties with seemingly strong local bases”, and the “CUF, being strong in Pemba where over 98% of its inhabitants are Muslims, has been accused of being an instrument for Muslim interests.” Another tactic that the CCM employed was to compare stable Tanzania to its chaotic neighbors, in a savvy demonstration of “political socialization” that underscored just how efficient the party was in transitioning the country through the end of the Cold War (Korybko analysis).
The last part of Malipula’s research ends with the awareness that structural and historical factors complement one another in depoliticizing ethnicity in Tanzania. They serve to maintain the porous and heterogeneous ethnic structures of the pre-colonial and colonial periods. It’s almost impossible for any politician to play the ethnic card in Tanzania due to the demographic statistics that argue against the formation of any minimum winning coalition constructed along these lines. The country has thus constructed a unified society within a decentralized structure marked by cross-cutting institutions and associations that transcend identity boundaries. None of this would have been possible had it not been for the nation-building economic policy and political centralization of Ujamaa during the Cold War era.
Patterning Tanzania’s Identity Template:
The four expert publications that were reviewed above contain a lot of valuable information about the secrets to Tanzania’s identity harmony, and additionally, they also have quite a few commonalities between them. This indicates that the experts generally understand the situation in a similar way, raising the prospect that some of Tanzania’s policies that positively contributed to its famed domestic stability could be patterned and applied by other states as well. It’s obviously understood that most countries in the world do not share Tanzania’s predisposed domestic factors, but nonetheless, some of them might have a few similarities with it anyhow and thus make it even more applicable for them to experiment with applying Dodoma’s policies. Either way, the lessons that can learned from Tanzania regarding the formation of a unified national identity and a composite patriotism are extraordinarily relevant to any country at risk of Hybrid War, which is why the most important principles must urgently be elucidated.
What stands out the most about Tanzania is that it was led for many years by a common leader with a common vision. He constructed a functional cross-cutting bureaucracy and “deep state” (the permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies) that remained as his institutional legacy after he finally left office. This enabled his vision to workable continue into the future. Relatedly, the country’s common leader definitively expressed his ideology in no uncertain terms, and this gave people tangible goals and values to work towards. There was regular verbal reaffirmation of national unity principles by the media and politicians, while its physical manifestation was experienced through hard work and collective suffering. Tanzania’s famed ideals of national unity and identity inclusiveness survived the post-Cold War era chiefly because of the enduring and incessant political socialization that goes on within the country, which serves to incubate patriotism and ostracize divisive rhetoric. All told, it’s possible for any state to follow the Tanzanian conceptual framework and implement identity-unifying policies, though this of course will be easier in some states than others owing to their particular domestic-historical situation and model of governance.
Tanzania’s Infrastructure Matrix
Tanzania occupies a notable place in China’s One Belt One Road global paradigm because it’s the host of four large-scale connective infrastructure projects being built by Beijing. The country is also thought to possess enormous offshore natural gas and oil deposits, some of which are in or near Zanzibar’s waters and have spurred the archipelago’s authorities to agitate to for more autonomy so that they can expand their jurisdiction over them as a result. This latter point is very contentious and will be discussed more in-depth at the end of the research, so for now the study will focus solely on the mainland-based infrastructure projects in the country and their regional relevance to China’s East African Silk Road project. Prior to commencing this part of the analysis, the reader should become acquainted with the custom map that the author drew for visualizing each of these projects:
(all routes are rough estimates and not exact)
* Green Dot: Tanga Port
* Green Line: Ugandan-Tanzanian oil pipeline
* Red Dot: Bagamoyo Port
* Red Line: Central Corridor
* Blue Dot: Dar es Salaam
* Blue Line: TAZARA
* Black Dot: Mtwara
* Black Line: Mtwara Development Corridor
* Orange Line: Mtwara-Dar es Salaam oil pipeline
* White Box: Zanzibar
Before explaining the importance of each of these projects, the reader should be made aware that each of them are Chinese-funded or Chinese-constructed in one way or another. There were reports that China considered financing the modernization of Tanga Port, but even though these are unconfirmed, Beijing still has an interest in its facilities because they serve as the terminal for the Ugandan-Tanzanian oil pipeline. While not popularly advertised, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) invested in the Ugandan oil fields, which thus explains the connection. The Bagamoyo port is an altogether different sort of project, though, since it’s well known that China lent $10 billion worth of financing credit for its construction. It also loaned $7.6 billion for the Central Corridor railway, the contract for which was awarded to China for $9 billion.
As for Dar es Salaam, Chinese businessmen from Jiangsu Province (home of the Eurasian Silk Road terminal port of Lianyungang) committed to investing $5 billion in the region over the next five years. Tanzania’s former capital is also the terminus for the TAZARA railway that China constructed between the littoral state and its copper-rich landlocked Zambian neighbor in the 1970s. In terms of the Mtwara Development Corridor, China is already constructing a railroad between that Indian Ocean port city and its Lake Malawi/Nyasa counterpart of Mbamba Bay as part of the $9 billion concession granted for the Central Corridor. Beijing wants to access the nearby $3 billion iron ore and coal investments that it’s made, and the route will also assist Russia with extracting uranium from its mine on the Mkuju River.
Concerning the final project to be studied, the Mtwara-Dar es Salaam oil pipeline was a $1.23 billion initiative financed and constructed by China. In the future, there exists the potential for China take part in the prospective $30 billion LNG plant in Lindi, a small town very close to Mtwara. Considering China’s existing investments in the country’s infrastructure and energy-related enterprises, it’s very likely that Beijing will participate in this plan in some capacity or another. China would in that case be able to expand its strategic footprint in southern Tanzania to complement its related LNG interests in northern Mozambique. Accordingly, this possible investment could be looked at as an outgrowth of the Mtwara Development Corridor and not a new initiative separate from it. Thus, the research will now proceed to examining more of the strategic nuances behind the four aforementioned projects.
The Ugandan-Tanzanian Oil Pipeline And Tanga Port:
China doesn’t have direct control over the pipeline and port, but it nonetheless has an interest in them because of the need to access its Ugandan oil investments. The author earlier wrote about how he published an analysis for Katehon about this topic and touching upon the broader implications of the Ugandan-Kenyan rivalry, but to briefly review the most relevant aspects of it, this said pipeline was never supposed to go through Tanzania in the first place. The surprise decision to abandon its original LAPSSET designs came as a major shock to Kenya, which lost out on untold sums of transit revenue and now no longer has a reliable partner to help finance the pipeline project from its own northwestern deposits.
Nairobi had hoped that French oil giant Total, one of the Ugandan oil investors and the company which will construct Kampala’s designated pipeline, would have chosen Kenya and thus shared the financial burden of this expensive project. Without their participation or that of another major investor, it’s unfeasible for the Kenyan government to pay for the pipeline itself. There’s still a chance that Total will allow its South Sudanese deposits to go through their original Kenya-direct LAPSSET route, but then again, there’s already chatter that the company would prefer for all of its resources to be exported via the same pipeline, which in this case would be the Ugandan-Tanzanian one ending in Tanga. No matter if South Sudan gets signed up for this initiative or not, the fact remains that Tanga is expected to become a very important East African energy terminal in the near future, and it’s predicted that Chinese investment will correspondingly grow along with it.
The Central Corridor And Bagamoyo Port:
This massive rail project envisions linking the African highlands with the Indian Ocean via central Tanzania, connecting the to-be-constructed port of Bagamoyo to Rwanda, Burundi, and likely eventually to the eastern DRC. The scale of this initiative is huge, and it’s not for naught that observers have crowned it as one of the largest port projects in East Africa, in competition only with the other Chinese-backed port of Kenya’s Lamu. Both are supposed to be able to handle 20 million containers a year, which to put it into perspective, makes their shipping capacity 25x larger than Dar es Salaam’s current one (see the aforementioned link). Everyone’s expectations are quite high for a reason, since the Central Corridor will cut through the populated belt of space linking Dar es Salaam with the centrally positioned capital of Dodoma and the Lake Victoria-abutting city of Mwanza. It will also prospectively reach the two impoverished countries of Rwanda and Burundi, but both of which have a combined labor/market potential of 20 million people, or slightly less than half of Tanzania itself. This gives rise to optimism that a lot of commercial traffic will transit between these key nodes.
That’s not the entire reason why Bagamoyo Port is being built to accommodate upwards of 20 million containers a year. The Chinese and Tanzanians are obviously expecting the Central Corridor to eventually link up with the resource-rich eastern regions of the DRC, which would then provide both parties with a direct link to these commodities and thereby make them and their infrastructure projects indispensable trade routes to the global market. The DRC also has a large amount of labor and market potential, too, but it’s primarily the resource extraction that interests investors the most and could convince them to fund the project past the borders of the EAC and into the Central African country. Additionally, due to the Ugandan-Kenyan competition and the ‘bad blood’ that was brought about by Kampala’s rejection of the LAPSSET Corridor for its oil exports, it can’t be totally discounted that Uganda might either rebuff Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railroad project as well and replace it with the Central Corridor or wisely diversify its real-sector export dependency routes and complement Nairobi’s project with Dodoma’s. This would in effect give the Central Corridor the potential to link all of the EAC countries except for Kenya, which more than justifies the 20 million containers per year projection that has been discussed.
The portmanteau of Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) will likely go down in history as China’s first significant overseas infrastructure project. It was constructed in the 1970s for the purpose of deepening the fraternal ties between all three parties and providing China with access to Zambia’s envied copper deposits. The socialist-revolutionary government in Lusaka was already ideologically predisposed to China and preferred selling its resources to the Maoist state than to the capitalist bloc. Aside from these attractive intangible factors, landlocked Zambia also had a clear geostrategic motive in ensuring reliable access to the sea and thenceforth the global marketplace. These factors combined in such a way as to make TAZARA a win-win for all of the sides involved. Regretfully, though, the project eventually fell into disrepair and was no longer the stable infrastructure anchor that it once was, which is why China returned to the scene an refurbished its decades-old investment but took over full control of the project in exchange.
China’s intent in controlling TAZARA is that it forms the crucial backbone to its Southern Trans-African Route (STAR), the plan to link Africa’s Indian Ocean coast with the Atlantic via the continent’s Central-Southern territories. In practice, STAR has two routes, most of which overlap. The first one is TAZARA to central Zambia and then onwards to Angola’s Benguela Railroad, though facilitated first by the prospective Northwest Railway that Lusaka wants to construct, while the second one picks up from central Zambia and connects to the DRC’s former region of Kinshasa before joining up with Benguela. In either case, the objective is clear, and it’s that China wants a unimodal (rail) transport system connecting both of the continent’s coasts. Its counterpart, the Northern Trans-African Route (NTAR) is a much more logistically complex multimodal vision in which Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railroad (or perhaps eventually the Central Corridor) passes through Uganda en route to the northeastern DRC Congo River-abutting city of Kisangani before going downstream to the capital of Kinshasa, and then overland on rail either from that city to the Atlantic port of Matadi or from its cross-river sister capital of Brazzaville to Pointe Noire on the ocean.
Mtwara Development Corridor:
Often overlooked in comparison to its much more obviously geostrategic counterparts, the Mtwara Development Corridor is still an impressively ambitious project in its own right. Though the structural basis for its rail component was evidently to connect China to its mineral investments on the eastern side of Lake Malawi/Nyasa, it also served the purpose of giving Beijing a foothold in the resource-rich Mtwara region, which conveniently abuts the even more energy-wealthy area of northern Mozambique’s Rovuma Basin. This explains the energy motivations for the project, but there are also correspondingly other interests that are served by this railroad as well. Because it ends on Lake Malawi/Nyasa, it’s within ferry access to the landlocked and despondently poor country of Malawi. While that state isn’t economically impressive by any metrics, it does have a strong agricultural sector that could be of interest to foreign investors. With the Chinese-built railroad terminus on Mbamba Bay and the logical ferry connection across the lake to Malawi, the landlocked country could thus acquire a diversified export route in lessening its hitherto dependency on Mozambique’s Beira and Nacala ports. This could also help to bring development to this forsaken land, which in turn could help retain domestic stability. Because of its geostrategic location at the junction between its much more important Zambian, Tanzanian, and Mozambican neighbors, any civil conflict in Malawi and resultant Weapons of Mass Migration could destabilize the entire region and lead to a chain of unintended consequences that eventually threatens China’s investments in these countries.
Last but certainly not least, the Mtwara Development Corridor and corresponding Chinese-constructed railway augment Dodoma’s sovereignty in the Lake Malawi/Nyasa littoral and could give it an asymmetrical boost in defending its maritime claims. Lost in most energy-market reporting due to its comparatively minor size, most observers aren’t aware that this body of water is potentially rich in oil and gas resources, which is the reason why Malawi and Tanzania are bickering over its sovereignty. The dispute traces back to the colonial era when Germany and the UK delineated the borders of Tanzania and Malawi, respectively, and Lilongwe acquired control over the entire northeastern part of the lake right up until the shore. However, Dodoma has since pushed back against these claims and says that the border should lie in the middle of the lake instead, thus giving both sides a stake in its underwater natural resources. As could be predicted, Malawi isn’t budging on what it feels is its legal sovereignty over the territory, which has thus produced a state of poor relations between the two neighbors. It’s unclear just how far both sides will go in pressing their claims, but it seems unmistakable that Tanzania will seek to capitalize off of the predicted increase in port activity that will obviously accompany the completion of the Mtwara Corridor in order to more confidently assert its sovereignty over the lake and heighten the chances that its claims can be acceded to.
Just prior to transitioning to the last part of the study and addressing the most likely Hybrid War scenario in Zanzibar, it’s necessary to say a few words about the prospects of an identity breakdown in the Tanzanian mainland. For as united as the people there have been for decades, the system that retained their ethnic harmony has progressively changed throughout the past 25 years ever since “liberalization”. While the people are still respectful of the hard work that their predecessors invested into forging a united and inclusive patriotism, the inconvenient fact is that many Tanzanians are too young to even remember – let alone appreciate – all that the previous generations have done for them. This means that Tanzania is more susceptible than ever to local demagoguery and NGO-supported disunity campaigns in emphasizing ethnic awareness over civic patriotism, which in turn could set into motion a debilitating sequence of destabilization if certain situational events are triggered.
The last chapter’s research on Rwanda and Burundi concluded with a discussion about Tanzania’s vulnerability to the Weapons of Mass Migration that might result from a Great Lakes Refugee Crisis 2.0., which in turn could catalyze an intense period of Hobbesian tribal warfare within the country. As it currently stands, Tanzania is largely immune to this due to its strong sense of a unified and inclusive national identity, but it could be disarmed of its social-ideological shield in the event that an outbreak of violence is preceded by an NGO-led ethnic canvassing campaign that erodes the aforesaid unity and sharpens the citizenry’s susceptibility to fratricide. A poacher-driven gun-running operation concurrent with this informational assault could succeed in smuggling weapons into the hands of the population, giving them the hair-trigger means to react to the suspicions and hatred that some of them might have earlier been indoctrinated with.
Owing to the proportionately miniscule representation of less than 4% than all but two of the country’s 120 ethnic groups command, Tanzania is hypersensitive to ethnic cleansing and genocide in the disastrous event that some of these groups militantly come to blows with one another and the erstwhile unified national identity abruptly unravels. Predictably, this could prompt the ‘international community’ to issue calls for a ‘humanitarian intervention’, much in the same way as they did in response to the Somalian, Central African Republic, and South Sudanese crises, though in this case with much more urgency due to the plethora of small separate groups that could end up rapidly killing one another and quickly putting their victimized identity group’s entire existence in jeopardy. The trigger for this calamitous chain of events could be the overflow of Weapons of Mass Migration from an uncontrollably violent outburst in Burundi or a meltdown in Malawi, or it could be engendered by a haphazard outbreak of violence following a segment of the population’s aggression-prone and identity-centric preconditioning.
The Zanzibar Zugzwang
The Tanzanian research study is finally at the point of tackling the contentious topic of Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous archipelago situated off of the united republic’s northeastern coast and the most likely scene of Hybrid War. An integral part of united Tanzania, the island chain is the most vulnerable of any part of the country to externally influenced destabilization attempts. It’ll be argued that events are progressively developing along a very negative and divisive trajectory, and that it might only be a matter of time before the sporadic election-related violence there evolves into a more widespread and enduring conflict. Should this happen and Zanzibar continues to slip into unrest, then the Tanzanian authorities would be placed in a zugzwang – a chess-related situation “in which a player is forced to make an undesirable or disadvantageous move” – that would prove unprecedentedly damaging to the country’s unity and might even ultimately lead to its fragmentation by prompting the previously mentioned scenario of mainland mayhem.
The semi-autonomous territory of Zanzibar actually includes two islands – the main one of Unguja (commonly known as Zanzibar) and the secondary one of Pemba. This part of the country has a completely separate social and historical development than the mainland. For starters, Zanzibar is almost 100% Muslim and had been one of the world’s most notorious slave outposts for centuries. The demographic intermingling that occurred during this time created a unique identity of “Shirazi” people, self-defined as blacks who allegedly have Persian ancestry. Nowadays they and the Africans compose the vast majority of the population of nearly one million people that inhabit the Zanzibari islands, but there used to be more Arabs and South Asians prior to the 1964 Revolution.
Zanzibar was freed from its former British protectorate status in December 1963 alongside its mainland counterpart colony of Tanganyika, and the two were officially separate independent countries. One month later in January 1964, the Afro-Shirazi party staged a bloody revolution against the Sultan and his Arab-led government. In the resultant chaos, a widely disputed number of between several hundred to 20,000 Arabs and South Asians were slaughtered. A declassified CIA document reveals that the US strongly suspected that the revolution was in one way or another related to a communist Cold War plot, fearing that it might herald the spread of this ideology throughout the rest of the region if it wasn’t contained. These apprehensions were soon allayed when Zanzibar joined together with Tanganyika a few months later in April to form the United Republic of Tanzania. As part of the merger agreement, the archipelago was to enjoy substantial local autonomy, though all external matters were understood to fall under the domain of the union government and therefore Dar es Salaam (later Dodoma).
Despite its identity separateness with its mainland counterparts, Zanzibar remained just as comparatively peaceful as the rest of the country throughout the Cold War period, though that all changed with the introduction of “liberalization” and multiparty democracy. The country’s main ‘opposition’ group, the Civic United Front (CUF), tends to have more support in Zanzibar than anywhere else in Tanzania, and they regularly cry foul every time they lose the elections. Not only that, but their loss usually leads to an expected outbreak of violence in Zanzibar, with the elections of 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2015 being the cases in point. Only the election of 2010 proceeded without a hiccup, and that was mostly attributable to a power-sharing deal that was passed right beforehand. CUF had boycotted the regional parliament since 2005, but the said deal to implement a ‘national unity government’ passed a referendum prior to the election and was enough of a concession that the ‘opposition’ recanted their position and decided to rejoin the political process.
This short-lived ‘honeymoon’ would only last until the next election period in 2015, when the country’s authorities nullified the results of the October vote there due to widespread fraud. It also didn’t help any that the CUF candidate Seif Sharif Hamad declared himself the winner before the official tally was even announced. The government saw this as an egregious provocation meant to incite political violence between the sparring parties and repeat the cycle of destabilization that had usually accompanied Zanzibari elections. In seeking to rectify this problem, the authorities announced that a re-run would be held in March 2016, though the CUF decided to boycott it and said that it wouldn’t recognize the results.
Shortly after the new vote was declared, two mysterious homemade bombs went off in the capital of Zanzibar City, and though nobody was hurt. A week before the re-election was to be held, another bomb destroyed the house of the Zanzibar police chief, though the target escaped uninjured. Both attacks point to an escalation of anti-government militancy and seem to indicate that the initial preparations for an urban insurgency were being laid. When the time for the vote finally came around, the Zanzibari Electoral Commission officially reported that incumbent regional president Ali Mohamed Shein of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) was re-elected with 91% of the total amidst a 68% turnout. Tellingly, it didn’t end up even mattering whether the CUF boycotted or not, since there was no way that even their full participation could have changed the results.
The US and its Western allies didn’t see it that way, however, and they decried the elections as a sham. Moreover, the US even took it a step further and froze the nearly $500 million in development aid that it had previously agreed to give to Tanzania. ‘Opposition’ leader Hamad followed the cues of his American patrons and ordered his supporters to initiate a campaign of “passive resistance”, which not coincidentally led to spree of property-related crimes in the island of Pemba, for which several CUF supporters were later arrested. It was during that time in June that Hamad also travelled to the US in June and warned that if his country’s government didn’t recognize him as Zanzibar’s president, that “we can smell a danger”, particularly one in which “Religious radicals will find an opening”.
The Tanzanian officials didn’t interpret this as a warning, but rather as a foreshadowing threat hinting at imminent violence if the government didn’t bow down to his demands, and they accordingly announced in late-July that they’ll arrest him for inciting hate against the government. As an observer can witness, the political situation in Zanzibar is becoming increasingly precarious, with overt signals that both of Hybrid War’s constituent components – a Color Revolution and Unconventional War – and brewing just below the surface. Should an asymmetrical conflict break out in the island chain, then it wouldn’t just be predicated on bringing a “democratic opposition” to power there, but on achieving concrete geopolitical objectives that would ultimately work out to the US’ unipolar benefit in the region.
Geopolitics And Oil:
The reason why the “opposition” wants to seize power in Zanzibar is to gain control over the oil deposits in the surrounding waters. While the bulk of Tanzania’s natural gas potential lays to the south near Mtwara, its offshore oil opportunities are in the north near Zanzibar. Even with the ruling CCM party in charge of the semi-autonomous archipelago, the island’s regional rulers have been in a dispute with their mainland central government counterparts over forthcoming revenue allocation from these projects. Zanzibar says that it should have the right to directly receive money from these initiatives, while Dodoma says that such affairs are the domain of the union government and must be negotiated through them instead. The issue isn’t merely a theoretical one, though, since large exploration blocs have already been allocated in the waters east of Zanzibar, and an earlier agreement was even signed in 2010 between Tanzania and a Canadian energy company for extracting oil right near the island’s shores. The CCM’s representatives in Zanzibar are amenable to political negotiations and compromise in resolving this spat, though the CUF isn’t though to be so patient or pragmatic, instead favoring constitutional amendments for more power or outright secessionism.
Both of the CUF’s positions are worrisome for Tanzanian unity as a whole. While in principle there’s nothing wrong with a peaceful devolution of power to Zanzibar (and this might even be something which the local CCM party could advocate for), the danger is that the CUF might agitate to take it to a radical extreme, perhaps going as far as demanding de-facto independence and their own military, though still also expecting subsidies and tax revenue payments from the central government. In practice, the most likely ends for such demands would be Identity Federalism, which could be utterly disruptive for mainland unity. A separate quasi-independent authority in Zanzibar could serve as an example for other emboldened identity groups eager to get more of a share of the country’s resource revenue at the rest of the country’s expense. If NGO preconditioning (political socialization) is effective enough by that point, then it could lead to the locals near Mtwara and other resource-rich areas demanding a similar arrangement with Dodoma. If the central government folded in the face of militant threats from the Zanzibaris, then these agitating groups might also seek to emulate their model and issue similar ultimatums to the authorities, hoping that they’ll also fold and give the regional ‘opposition’ a greater share of the forthcoming revenue proceeds from the natural gas in Mtwari or perhaps even the mineral resources near Lake Malawi/Nyasa.
Other than the chain reaction of Identity Federalism that a successful militarized devolution campaign in Zanzibar could produce throughout the rest of the country, large-scale disruptions in the island chain could also portend quite negatively for Tanga, Bagamoyo, and Dar es Salaam ports. Investors might be scared away from them in the event that piracy, shelling, and/or terrorist attacks become commonplace in this area, remembering that Unguja (Zanzibar) and Pemba are within very close proximity to these facilities. These islands will already likely receive much attention in the future as these three nearby ports integrate into the One Belt One Road network, but all of this could be offset if there’s a veritable fear of violence that would dissuade sailors from visiting. In fact, given the nature of Tanzania’s demographic profile and history, there’s a very actual risk that identity conflict in Zanzibar could speedily cross the straits and infect the mainland littoral. The heavy concentration of Muslims in both areas, as well as the shared legacy of the Swahili Coast, could be exploited by outside interests and “Islamic charities” to foster a keen sense of identity separateness that enhances the viability of any forthcoming insurgent campaigns. Al Qaeda’s 1998 bombing of the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam proves that Salafist terrorists already have a documented interest in the area, and extremist cells could leap to the territory from civilizationally similar and dysfunctional Saudi–allied Comoros.
A Civilizational Split In The “United Republic”
The worst-case scenario in Zanzibar is that the country’s crisis takes on civilizational dimensions, or in other words, becomes overly Islamist. This would have the effect of heightening the identity divide between Christians and Muslims, and thus making it easier for extremists to purposely misportray the expected military response from Dodoma as being “Christian aggression against Muslims”. Other than crystallizing identity discord between mainland Christians and Muslims, this could also turn Zanzibar into a magnet for foreign fighters and make it the regional epicenter of a larger jihad campaign.
As was explained above, Tanzania’s demographic peculiarities in having a heavily Muslim-populated mainland littoral could invite Swahili Coast separatists to lay a claim to the territory amidst this prospective tumult, riding on the waves of populist rhetoric about ‘redistributing’ the Tanga-Bagamoyo-Dar es Salaam port and natural resource proceeds in order to ingratiate themselves with the locals. The country’s commercial capital of Dar es Salaam might even be pressed to reactively declare itself an autonomous or federalized unit during the course of any large-scale breakdown of authority throughout the country, such as in the context of concurrent federalist-separatist movements that could erupt among various resource-envious tribal identities (e.g. those around Mtwara and the Lake Malawi/Nyasa region).
All of this, it should be reminded, would be dramatically exacerbated or possibly even provoked in the first place by the influx of Weapons of Mass Migration from neighboring Burundi or Malawi. Within such an atmosphere of anarchy, China’s New Silk Road investments in Tanzania would likely be cancelled or destroyed, thus achieving the US’ grand strategic goal of hindering its Chinese rival’s further penetration of the resource-rich African Heartland. Nonetheless, this wouldn’t be without relative collateral damage to the US’ Indian ally, which is eager to ‘piggyback’ off of China’s said projects in deepening its own influence in the southwestern reaches of its eponymous ocean.
Andrew Korybko is the American political commentator currently working for the Sputnik agency. He is the author of the monograph “Hybrid Wars: The Indirect Adaptive Approach To Regime Change” (2015). This text will be included into his forthcoming book on the theory of Hybrid Warfare.