For many Tanzanians who still have family and friends in Tanzania it’s a mixed emotion. “For the first time in her political life, Tanzanian, ‘have no clue’ who shall be their next president,” “This tends to create anxiety and apprehension,” says Robert Shaba, a Program Coordinator with Konrd-Adenauer-Foundation in Dar es Salaam.
Tanzania, a relatively peaceful East African nation, thanks in part to the legacy of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, who led the single-party state for 24 years until his resignation in 1985; has been under Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), rule for over fifty years, despite the introduction of multiparty system in 1992.
However, in this year’s elections, CCM’s domination is threatened and it faces toughest road to the Ikulu. The opposition, a coalition led by Chama cha Demokrasia na maendeleo (Chadema) is for the first time making in rows thanks to the power struggle within the ruling party.
The current Tanzania’s President and CCM chair, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete term in office is ending this month and the party is coming out wounded from its presidential nomination meeting, which took place in country’s capital Dodoma in June.
The ruling party elected the Minister of Works, John Pombe Magufuli, as its presidential nominee instead of the former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, who was one of the front-runners. This led series of high profile defection in CCM ranks to the opposition camp, including Lowassa, who is now Chadema’s presidential candidate.
These recent events seem to shift the balance of power handing a realistic chance for Chadema to dethrone the old guard and defeat CCM presidential candidate Magufuli.
Scientist turn politician, Professor Magufuli won the CCM presidential candidacy after two rounds of voting in a five-candidate showdown by 2104 votes (87.1 percent) out of the 2416 total vote count. Magufuli was selected over the two women finalists, Ambassador Amina, African Union Ambassador to the US, and Dr Asha-Rose Migiro, Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, who got 253 (10.5 percent) and 59 (2.4 percent) votes respectively. The others in the five finalists included Bernard Membe, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and January Makamba, Deputy Minister for Communications.
For the first time in Tanzanian history, a woman, Samia Suluhu Hassan (Hassan), has been named CCM Vice Presidential candidate. Hassan is the MP for Makunduchi Constituency in Zanzibar. She is Minister of State in the Vice President’s office (Union Affairs).
As it was for their counterparts in Canada, Tanzanian also want to quench the thirst for change. The similarity does not end there, it has been a long and hotly contested campaign towards the election for this young democracy and largest East African country, put on the map by The Kilimanjaro and the white sandy beaches of Zanzibar and by its safari parks: Including the Serengeti.
However, in moving forward, Tanzania must take nuggets from their famous treasure chest. Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere. Known to Tanzanian as Father of the Nation, Nyerere was one of rare African leader to resigned from power after 24 years as Tanzania President. He led the nation united and free of divisive elements, such as tribalism, linguistic and other quagmires that we have seen so often grip other African countries.
A Tanzanian was a Tanzanian period. Hope Tanzanian leaders of today keep his legacy. It is the hope of many Tanzanian home and abroad that although elections in Tanzania since 1992 have generally been adjudged fair and free by both Tanzanians and foreign observers, the CCM led government should continue to ensure that the process remains so, especially in light of legitimate and serious challenges to its political power.