A people power philosophy: Republican ideology in opposition in Tanzania

Daniel Paget* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article is about democratic political thought and African political parties.
Studies judge that opposition speak about democracy, but rarely express
democratic ideologies. This determination arises from democracy’s perceived
hegemony. As democracy is accepted, opposition parties invoke democratic ideas without advocating them. I contest this line of argument. There are multiple visions of democracy. Therefore, whether or not democracy is hegemonic, not all arguments for and perspectives on it are. By omission, the literature on African parties has denied this variety in democratic thought and precluded the study of one variant of it in particular: republicanism. Republicanisms elevate domination and corruption as ills and advocate limiting state power and empowering citizens.
I analyse the “people’s power philosophy” of leading Tanzanian opposition party,
Chadema. It imagines a ruling party oligarchy which pursues its private interests
through an interconnected system of domination and corruption. Chadema
advocates a new constitution to undo that system: institutional reforms that limit
state power and empower citizens. It claims that it can do so by overpowering the oligarchy in a popular struggle. It imagines struggle as the breaking of everyday dominance and therefore as emancipatory: a second liberation. I argue that this philosophy constitutes a republican-democratic ideology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-418
Number of pages21
Issue number3
Early online date1 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Thanks to Portia Roelofs, Sa’eed Husaini, Deogratias Munishi, Yohana Hoka for
their comments on drafts of this paper. Thanks to Patrick Ole Sosopi and
Deogratias Munishi for the insights they provided on Chadema in conversation.
Thanks to Tundu Lissu for his encouragement as I finalised this paper. Thanks to
everyone in Tanzania, and beyond, who gave me their time, insight, hospitality
and/or friendship as I conducted my research. Any errors are mine alone


  • republicanism
  • democratic theory
  • democratization
  • political parties
  • African politics
  • Tanzania
  • electoral authoritarianism
  • liberation
  • oligarchy
  • emancipation


Dive into the research topics of 'A people power philosophy: Republican ideology in opposition in Tanzania'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this