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Tanzania still ranks low on EIU Democracy Index, despite beating Kenya

How Democratic in Tanzania? It may be slightly better than other East African States, but the country still ranks lowest globally

Queing to vote in Tanzania, the country is still far from attaining real democracy according to EIU Index

Tanzania is among the Sub-Saharan Africa nations still ranking low in the just released Democracy Index 2021 report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

And that is despite the fact that the country essentially performed better than other six East African Community Member states, including the usually lauded Kenya.

Tanzania is at position 13 in Sub-Saharan Africa, followed by Kenya its East African sibling at 14
DRC tags last. Burundi is the worst performer in East Africa, followed by Rwanda

All the same. Tanzania has been classified as ‘Hybrid Regime,’ which should be slightly better than other countries labelled ‘Authoritarian.’

Joan Hoey

Actually with the exception of Mauritius which is the only ‘Democratic,’ according to the Index, almost all the 55 states of Africa remain ‘bad news’ democratically, as far as ‘The Economist,’ latest report is concerned.

As the number of people living in a democracy fell to less than 50 percent, the number of countries classified as an ‘authoritarian regime,’ increased in 2021.

Meanwhile, democracy has been in retreat in Africa for several years, with the pandemic exacerbating existing negative trends, and the return of the coup was symptomatic of a major legitimacy crisis for governments in west Africa especially.

Joan Hoey – Editor, Democracy Index
EIU

A further democratic retreat occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, the second-lowest-ranked region after the Middle East and North Africa. With only one country listed as a ‘full democracy,’

 Authoritarian governments continue to dominate the region.

Many of the nations in Sub-Saharan Africa are concentrated at the bottom of the Democracy Index rankings.

The continent has only one ‘full democracy’ in the form of Mauritius.

Mauritius: Africa’s only saving grace

There are six ‘flawed democracies’ in 2021, that remained unchanged from the 2020 index.

The number of countries classed as ‘hybrid regimes’, at 14, is one more than in the 2020 index, as Mauritania’s score improved sufficiently to lift it out of the ‘authoritarian regimes’ category, following improvements such as increased female representation in its parliament.

Authoritarian forms of government continued to dominate, with 23 countries still classified as such.

The overall average regional score fell marginally in 2021, to 4.12, down from an already low 4.16 in 2020, continuing a long-running democratic recession. The modest gains made in the first decade after the index began in 2006 (when the average regional score rose from 4.24 to a highpoint of 4.38 in 2015) have since dissipated and the region’s score has been falling ever since.

A total of 16 of the region’s 44 countries registered a decline in their score, with the most precipitous being in Guinea (-0.80), Mali (-0.45), Benin (-0.39), Congo (Brazzaville, -0.32) and Angola (-0.29).

Some 14 countries stagnated, with their total scores remaining the same as in 2020. This left 14 countries that recorded improvements in their scores, most of which were modest.

There is an exception, and that is Zambia, which recorded a 0.86-point improvement in its score to take its total score to 5.72, that was after the former increasingly autocratic leader, Edgar Lungu, was ousted in a democratic transition of power.

Zambia saved itself through the recent elections

President Lungu and his Patriotic Front (PF) party had presided over a steep rise in public debt, much of it owed to Chinese lenders, and had become increasingly unpopular.

Despite efforts by Mr Lungu and the PF to rig the presidential and parliamentary elections in August, the scale of the opposition victory for the United Party for National Development and its leader, Hakainde Hichilema, led to a peaceful transition of power.

Zambia remains classified as a ‘hybrid regime,’ but its score improved the most out of any Sub-Saharan country in the 2021 index, rising by 0.86 points to 5.72

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