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