Tanzania is to hold a general election on October 25 to elect a new leader as the incumbent, Jakaya Kikwete is stepping down following the end of his second term in office. The country has respected term-limits for its leader since multi-party elections were established in 1992 following a long-running presidency by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the country’s first post-independence leader. Since its independence from Britain in 1961, Tanzania has been governed by one political party, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). But there are signs that this time CCM may be given a hard time or even pushed into relinquishing power altogether to the opposition following the desertion of its former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa to the opposition. In his first posting for The London Evening Post, our new Dar es Salaam correspondent, Elias Mhegera looks at the challenges CCM faces come this October.
The profound silence by a cross section of the ruling CCM, quite uncharacteristic of its long tradition, has attracted a number of questions as to what is cooking on. A fortnight ago, the former Premier Edward Lowassa was escorted by thousands of followers of the loose coalition, the Umoja wa Katiba ya Wananchi (UKAWA) when he picked candidacy forms from the National Election Commission (NEC). The massive support by Dar es Salaam residents and nearby regions indicated that CCM will not have a smooth run in the forthcoming General Elections, come October 25 this year. The inaction and silence have been received with different interpretations in various circles. Political scientist and Deputy Head of the Tanzania Election Monitoring Committee (TEMCO) from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Prof Benson Bana sees this as history in the making. “To any extent you cannot underrate Lowassa. He has proved that he will remain for quite some time as a point of reference of how long-term investment for a political post could eventually yield results,” he commented to The Evening Post.
Analysing further he revisited the happenings since 2008 and he believes that for quite some time since when Mr Lowassa resigned due to what was termed as his complicity in the power deal by the Richmond power deal scandal, the public was wrongly informed. “In my position I had always believed that this scam was exaggerated due to business competitions rather than the urge to get rid of corruption,” he added. The don reminds that one quality to credit Mr Lowassa was the fact that he had a plan B once things did not work in his favour in the CCM. In mention was the fact that this candidate was sidelined in the CCM preliminaries before he defected to his new party Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA). His new part is amongst the four parties forming the UKAWA alliance, others being the National Convention for Construction and Reforms (NCCR-Mageuzi), National League for Democracy (NLD), and the Civic United Front (CUF).