Tanzania’s two-horse contest
from ALLOYCE KIMBUNGA in Dar es salaam, Tananzia
DAR ES SALAAM, (CAJ News) – HAILED as an African model for stability, democratisation and economic stability, Tanzania will hold what is anticipated to be the most competitive and unpredictable general election since the attainment of independence in 1961.
The poll on Sunday, which will be the fifth quinquennial (every five years) to be held since the restoration of the multi-party system in 1992, comes on the back of several political gaffes by the ruling party while the opposition will approach the poll more united than past plebiscites.
Political campaigns began on August 22 and will stop tomorrow, the day before polling.
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, telecommuni-cations, and banking sectors.
President Jakaya Kikwete is ineligible to be elected for a third term due to term limits.
The country’s dominant ruling party, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi has selected Works Minister John Magufuli as its presidential nominee, instead of the front-runner and former prime minister, Edward Lowassa.
After failing to secure the ruling party’s nomination, Lowassa defected to an opposition party that once labelled him as corrupt.
The stage is set for an eagerly anticipated poll. The continent’s longest reigning ruling party faces a real threat of defeat with the opposition’s chances at their brightest.
CAJ News previews the favourites for the top job in Africa’s tenth biggest economy, with suggestions it will be a two-horse contest between Magufuli and Lowassa, the Umoja wa Katiba ya Wananchi leader.
John Pombe Joseph Magufuli is seen as the favourite to succeed Jakaya Kikwete owing to the Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s (CCM) dominance of the political landscape for over 50 years now – since independence in 1961.
Following the restoration of multi-party politics, it has retained its popularity and the voters’ confidence, winning the past four general elections (held in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010).
Magufuli 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.
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 by retired president Julius Nyerere, who found him to have “enriched himself too fast”.
In 2005, Lowassa backed his friend Kikwete and the two were dubbed “Boys Two Men” because of their strong political union that enabled Kikwete to defeat all his rivals within the ruling party.
Last year, Lowassa faced a one-year ban from the CCM after he was accused of starting his campaign for presidency before the authorised time.
The ban expired in February, only to be extended by the CCM Central Committee on the grounds that their final report was not ready.
In May, Lowassa launched his presidential campaign in Arusha. In July, the CCM Central Committee eliminated him from its list of presidential aspirants, which came as a shock to many.
Lowassa left the party and joined Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema), ironically a party that once denounced him as “one of the most corrupt figures in Tanzanian society”.
Lowassa was prime minister from 2005 to 2008.
Before that, he served in the cabinet as Minister of State, Lands, Human Settlement Development, Water and Livestock Development and was a member of parliament.
The 56-year-old is the only female presidential candidate and is chairwoman of the country’s youngest political party, the Alliance for Change and Transparency Wazalendo.
The party received its permanent registration in May last year.
Mghwira’s campaign is premised on bridging gender inequalities. An activist, lawyer and theologian, her father was a leader in the Tanganyika African National Union, the principal political party in the struggle for sovereignty in Tanganyika.
His United People’s Democratic Party 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.
A lawyer of the Supreme Court, the 66-year-old leads the Chama cha Ukombozi wa Umma founded in 2013. He ran for the presidency through the NCCR Evolution in 2010 when he emerged fifth out of the seven candidates.
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, a political party formed by former Civil United Front members.
Lyimo 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 24.25 million registered voters out of 49.25 million. The winning candidate will have to obtain more than 50 percent of the vote otherwise a run-off will be held within 60 days.
– CAJ News
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