Tan­za­nia’s ‘too-close-to-call’ elec­tion

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Ab­dul­la­teef Salau, with agency re­ports

On Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 25, mil­lions of Tan­za­ni­ans will go to the polls to elect the pres­i­dent who will pi­lot the af­fairs for the next five years.

Those who have ruled the coun­try in­clude Ali Has­san Mwinyi, Mwal­imu Julius Ny­erere, Benjamin Mkapa and the cur­rent Jakaya Mr­isho Kik­wete, who is step­ping down af­ter com­plet­ing his con­sti­tu­tional two-term limit

Tan­za­nia’s elec­tions would be the third pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Africa this month, which po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts de­scribed as “Red Oc­to­ber in Africa”.

The two lead­ing con­tenders in the Sun­day’s elec­tion are John Pombe Magu­fuli of the rul­ing Chama Cha Mapin­duzi (CCM) and his clos­est ri­val Ed­ward Ngoyai Lowassa of Chama Cha Demokra­sia na Maen­deleo (Chadema), the main op­po­si­tion party, which formed an al­liance with three other par­ties.

Magu­fuli, hop­ing to suc­ceed Pres­i­dent Jakaya Kik­wete, is fac­ing stiff chal­lenge from Lowassa who re­cently de­fected from the CCM to the op­po­si­tion Chadema. Lowassa joined the op­po­si­tion af­ter los­ing to Magu­fuli in his bid to be­come the party’s pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in July.

Both Magu­fuli and Lowassa are bank­ing on re­gional pop­u­lar­i­ties to clinch the seat of power though Lowassa’s pop­u­lar­ity is not un­known to other con­tenders.

The rul­ing CCM party has dom­i­nated pol­i­tics since mod­ern Tan­za­nia was formed in 1964 but has been weak­ened by gale of de­fec­tions of high-pro­file mem­bers to the op­po­si­tion coali­tion, which ar­gued that change is in­evitable.

In their cam­paigns, which are ex­pected to end on Satur­day, a day to the elec­tion, both Magu­fuli and Lowassa were said to have made re­peated calls for the preser­va­tion of peace and na­tional unity in speeches de­nounc­ing trib­al­ism and reli­gious vi­o­lence.

De­spite the ab­sence of trib­al­ism in the na­tion’s po­lit­i­cal his­tory, the coun­try is in search of a lost leader, Julius Ny­erere, whose 24-year lead­er­ship left pro­found im­pact in the po­lit­i­cal cul­ture of Tan­za­nia.

Ac­cord­ing to the Econ­o­mist, “Pol­i­tics in Tan­za­nia does not tend to be fought along tribal lines, as it is in its neigh­bour, Kenya. That is partly thanks to the legacy of Julius Ny­erere, Tan­za­nia’s first postin­de­pen­dence leader, who tried to build a strong na­tional iden­tity as well as a so­cial­ist state.”

How­ever, the chal­lenges glar­ing at the face of Jakaya Kik­wete’s suc­ces­sor in­clude trick­ling down the seem­ingly eco­nomic growth of Tan­za­nia to ben­e­fit the poor­est class. The coun­try’s eco­nomic growth has not trans­lated to job cre­ation nei­ther does it re­flects rapid re­duc­tion in poverty rates

In spite of the im­pres­sive eco­nomic growth of Tan­za­nia, African De­vel­op­ment Bank says lit­tle of that has trick­led down to the ma­jor­ity, and the coun­try re­mains very poor by re­gional and in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

“Tan­za­nian econ­omy has con­tin­ued to per­form strongly, record­ing growth of 7.3% in 2013, up from 6.9% in 2012, driven by in­for­ma­tion and communications, con­struc­tion, manufacturing and other ser­vices.

“In­fla­tion has sta­bilised at sin­gle dig­its over the past year, de­clin­ing to an an­nual av­er­age of 6.8% in 2014 due to pru­dent mone­tary pol­icy, a favourable food sit­u­a­tion and de­clin­ing fuel prices,” AfDB re­ports.

Re­cently, United States Sec­re­tary of State, John Kerry, in a state­ment in per­son­ally signed, de­scribed the month as “a de­ci­sive mo­ment for African democ­racy”.

The cam­paign en­vi­ron­ment is Tan­za­nia has been largely peace­ful but po­lit­i­cal ob­servers said the po­ten­tial for vi­o­lence re­mains.

Former Nige­rian Pres­i­dent, Good­luck Jonathan, who is the Chair of the Com­mon­wealth elec­tion ob­server mis­sion to Tan­za­nia, called on the con­tenders to con­cede de­feat if they lose in the in­ter­est of peace and unity in the coun­try.

With a reporter on the ground in Dar es Salaam, Daily Trust will keep you up to date on the Tan­za­nian elec­tion tak­ing place this Sun­day. The elec­tion which is largely be­tween the op­po­si­tion’s Ed­ward Lowassa and John Magu­fuli of the rul­ing party will be keenly con­tested.

Ed­ward Lowassa (L) of the op­po­si­tion and John Magu­fuli of the rul­ing party

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