TOM EATON: Tanzania is winning at becoming a failed state
“How To Turn A Struggling But Hopeful Country Into A Failed State” is a long read. If you don’t have time for the whole thing, just skim the EFF’s election manifesto. But if you do read it, you’ll discover that on Wednesday night, Tanzania was following Chapter 1 to the letter when it detained veteran South African journalist Angela Quintal.
In that chapter, you’ll read about the two essential things every state needs to do if it really, truly wants to slide from mediocrity into lower-middle wretchedness before starting its final plunge into failure. And you’ll see that Tanzania is putting all the basics in place to achieve just that.
The first non-negotiable is that the would-be failed state needs to be so terrified of gay people that it has legalised discrimination against them. This level of homophobia shows that you are both maniacally patriarchal and fantastically stupid, both essential if you are going to fail properly.
In respect of legislated hate, Tanzania is doing very well: since John Magufuli took power in 2015, gay people can be sent to prison for 30 years for being in love with another person. Paranoid patriarchy: check. Weapons-grade stupidity: check. The second fundamental requirement involves a free press. The first sign of that and you can kiss your ultimate failure goodbye. No, a proper wannabe failure goes out of its way to suppress free speech and to harass journalists as much as it can. On Wednesday night, Tanzania shot to the top of the class in this respect, detaining Quintal and her colleague, Muthoki Mumo, and confiscating their passports on suspicion that they had entered the country on a tourist visa to — are you sitting down? — investigate the treatment of journalists in Tanzania. It was textbook stuff: harass journalists, and when other journalists come to investigate your harassment of them, harass them too. Well played, Tanzania. Of course, President Magufuli shouldn’t get...