EXCLUSIVE: Eagerly awaited Tanzania poll a two-horse race
DAR ES SALAAM, (CAJ News) – TANZANIA, hailed as an African model for stability, democratisation and economic stability, will on Sunday hold what is anticipated to be the most competitive and unpredictable general elections since the attainment of independence in 1961.
The poll, which will be the fifth quinquennial to be held since the restoration of multi-party system in 1992, comes on the back of some several political gaffes by the ruling party while on the other hand, the opposition will approach the poll more united than past plebiscites.
Political campaigns commenced on August 22 and will cease on the day before the polling day.
Campaigning has largely been peaceful in the East African country, which, unlike most of its neighbours, has enjoyed relative political stability since independence, and whose economy has expanded rapidly thanks to strong tourism, telecommunications, and banking sectors.
The incumbent President, Jakaya Kikwete, is ineligible to be elected to a third term due to term limits.
The country’s dominant ruling party, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) has selected Works Minister, John Magufuli, as its presidential nominee;instead of the front-runner and former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa.
Interestingly, after failing to secure the ruling party’s nomination, Lowassa defected to an opposition party that once labelled him as corrupt.
With the state set for an eagerly-anticipated poll that offers a major threat to the continent’s longest reigning ruling party and the opposition’s chances never been this brighter, CAJ News previews the favourites for top job in Africa’s tenth biggest economy, with suggestions it will be a two-horse contention between Magufuli and Lowassa, the Umoja wa Katiba ya Wananchi (UKAWA) leader.
John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, who turns 56 on Friday, will be hoping for an early birthday present.
He is seen as the favourite to succeed Kikwete owing to the CCM’s dominance of the political landscape for over 50 years now.
The party has dominated the political scene since the nation attained independence in 1961.
Following the restoration of multi-party politics, it has retained its popularity and the voters’ confidence, winning all of the past four general elections (held in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010).
He has served in the cabinet as Minister of Works since 2010. Previously he was Deputy Minister of Works from 1995 to 2000, Minister of Works from 2000 to 2006, Minister of Lands and Human Settlement from 2006 to 2008, and Minister of Livestock and Fisheries from 2008 to 2010.
He has served as a Member of Parliament since 1995.
The Economist Intelligence Unit in its recent political forecast stated that “CCM’s candidate is almost certain to become the country’s next president.”
Magufuli’s emergence as the CCM candidate however has been overshadowed by the ructions within the ruling party.
More than 40 members of the party contested in the primaries.
In July, the party’s Central Committee scrutinised the 38 presidential aspirants and selected five candidates for the consideration of its National Executive Committee.
The top five were Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, Magufuli, Justice Minister Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy Minister January Makamba and Ambassador Amina Salum Ali.
Later, the National Executive Committee selected the three finalists: Magufuli, Salum Ali and Migiro.
Eventually, Magufuli was nominated as CCM’s presidential candidate for the 2015 election.
Having beaten Migiro, a former UN Deputy Secretary General, and Ali, an
African Union Ambassador to the United States, Mugufuli’s emergence as the candidate is a surprise.
Edward Ngoyai Lowassa’s ambitions for the presidency have suffered a number of setbacks before.
In 1995, he was among the more than 15 CCM aspirants for the presidency, but was stopped in his tracks by retired president Julius Nyerere, who found him to have “enriched himself too fast.”
This was in reference to his past tainted by allegations of corruption.Benjamin Mkapa won the contest within the party and also won the election and became Tanzania’s third president.
In 2005, Lowassa strongly backed his friend Kikwete and the two were dubbed “Boys Two Men” because of their strong political union that eventually enabled Kikwete to defeat all his rivals within the ruling party.
In 2014, Lowassa faced a one-year ban from CCM after he was accused of starting his campaign for presidency ahead of the authorised time.
The ban expired in February this year, only to be extended by the CCM Central Committee on the grounds that their final report was still not ready.
In May, Lowassa eventually launched his presidential campaign in Arusha, stating his top priorities would be overhauling the country’s education sector, reducing poverty, boosting economic growth and fighting corruption.
In July, the CCM Central Committee eliminated him from its list of
presidential aspirants, which came as a shock to many who viewed him as an inevitable candidate.
Having failed to get the nomination, Lowassa denounced the CCM as
“infested with leaders who are dictators, undemocratic and surrounded with greedy power mongers.”
Lowassa left the party and instead joined Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA), ironically, a party that once denounced his as “one of the most corrupt figures in Tanzanian society.”
He has been designated as the presidential candidate of a coalition of four opposition parties, OKAWA.
The four parties with differing ideologies are conservative/centrist CHADEMA party, the liberal Civic United Front (CUF), the social democratic NCCR–Mageuzi and the National League for Democracy (NLD).
Lowassa was Prime Minister from 2005-2008.
Prior to the influential position, he served in cabinet as Minister of State, Lands, Human Settlement Development, Water and Livestock Development and a Member of Parliament.
He will be banking on his vast experience in the political scene, a largely youthful population eager for change and the opposition’s newly-found exuberance.
The 56-year-old is the only female presidential candidate and chairperson of the country’s youngest political party, Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT) Wazalendo.
The party received its permanent registration in May 2014.
It intends to reintroduce some of the principles of Ujamaa, the concept that formed the basis of Julius Nyerere’s social and economic policies in Tanzania after it gained independence.
Opposition MP Zitto Kabwe formally joined the party in March 2015 following his expulsion from CHADEMA.
Mghwira’s campaign is premised on bridging gender inequalities.
“What is it that men do in leadership that a woman cannot do? If we have women pilots, engineers etc, those are more difficult tasks than being a leader because mothers are leaders all over.
“Whether they have given birth or not, they are natural leaders,” she has famously said ahead of the poll.
An activist, a lawyer and theologian, her father was a prominent leader in the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) was the principal political party in the struggle for sovereignty in Tanganyika.
His United People’s Democratic Party (UPDP) was registered in 1993.
The party did not field a presidential candidate in the 2005 election but supported Sengondo Mvungi of the National Convention for Construction and Reform-Mageuzi.
He was placed fifth out of ten candidates, winning a meagre 0,49 percent of the vote.
A lawyer of the Supreme Court, the 66-year-old leads the Chama cha Ukombozi wa Umma (CHAUMMA) founded in 2013.
He ran for the Presidency through the NCCR Evolution in 2010 when he emerged five of the seven candidates presidential seat after he received 29 638 votes equivalent to 0,31 percent of the vote valid.
He believes unemployment and lack of good governance are hindering the country’s development.
The businessman leads the National Reconstruction Alliance, founded in 1993.
The little known Yembe leads the Alliance for Democratic Change (ADC), a
political party formed by former Civil United Front (CUF) members. It was registered in 2012 amid controversy its proposed flag, saying it resembled the CHADEMA.
He leads the left-wing Tanzania Labour party, founded in 1992.
The National Electoral Commission disqualified four candidates- Mchungaji Mtikila, Godfrey Malisa, John Lafichipaka and Omari Sombi- after they failed to meet the minimum threshold to qualify for the presidential race.
There are some 24,25 registered voters in this country of 49,25 million people.
The winning candidate will have to obtain more than 50 percent of all the votes cast otherwise a runoff will be held within 60 days.
– CAJ News
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