Tanzania and Conflict

Tanzania has largely been spared the internal strife that has plagued so many other African nations. They have managed to avoid civil wars or other violent struggles and strifes. Within the country, the most contentious issues are over resource usage and availability, which has caused some clashes, but has not resulted in violent conflict. Moreover, Tanzania has continued to remain unaffected by regional or interstate conflict in recent years; thus, making it an exception to general patterns seen elsewhere on the continent. Tanzania’s relative political stability and consistent rule within their a single party system has allowed them to avoid the destructive results of violent disputes.

Perhaps the most notable conflict in Tanzania’s history is their border clash with, and subsequent invasion of, Uganda. In the early 1970s Uganda began to fight along the border with Tanzania in a series of invasions and occupations organized by the Ugandan president, Idi Amin. Amin sought to annex the Kagera region and is said to have plans to overthrow Nyerere from his presidency in Tanzania. Relations between the two nations were intense and progressively worsened; in part, these rising tensions were due to the floundering economy and security of the Ugandan state, as well as Nyerere’s refusal to recognize Amin’s regime as legitimate.

Uganda invaded and annexed a 710 square mile portion, the Kagera region, to their country and engaged in frequent violence against citizens in the region. The international arena responded by condemning Uganda’s invasion of Tanzania and their rampant aggression. Nayerere and Tanzania’s troops launched a counter-offensive and were able to take back the region without using military support from external actors. However, Tanzanian forces then pushed further and invaded Uganda, eventually occupying the capital and helping to oust the Amin regime and end its state-run violence.

Since the 1978 war with Uganda, Tanzania has largely remained uninvolved in regional conflicts. The involvement they have had in regional disputes is through the role of peace-keeping, in large part due to their own political stability, lack of internal strife, and backing by powerful external actors. The single party system within Tanzanian politics is what has allowed them to maintain their domestic stability. Western nations and other international organizations are willing to engage with them and support Tanzania because of their strong record of peace and stability.

Recently, Tanzania has faced some minor conflicts over resource availability, mainly regarding land and water usage. However, the farmers and pastoralists have been largely proactive with managing potential sources of conflict and strive to avoid unnecessary fights. Hostility between groups in Tanzania’s rural regions has not escalated to the point of rampant violence, but there have been some deadly conflicts between the farmers and herders as they struggle to achieve resource security in the face of growing climate problems. The relative proactivity of Tanzanians to resolve conflicts over resource availability before issues worsen is indicative of their ability to maintain political and domestic stability.

Tanzania is an outlier in terms of their general stability and security, as well as in their lack of involvement in war and other violent disputes. It is what has allowed them to remain united as a nation since decolonization; however, dissimilar to other patterns in development, their lack of strife and political conflict has not translated into economic growth or prosperity.







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