THE ELECTION OF A PRESIDENT OF TANZANIA

Some newspapers have tended to mislead their readers by their comments on the election of a President. The Economist’s claim that President-elect Mwinyi is ‘Mr. Nyerere’s man’ and the article heading in the Danish Berlingske Tidende: ‘Nyerere chooses his successor’ give a false impression of the electoral process. The first step is taken by the National Executive of the Party, in which the credentials of the candidates are reviewed in detail and eventually agreement is reached on the name of a single candidate to recommend to the National Conference of the Party. It is for the National Conference to accept or reject this recommendation.

It has been suggested that the members of the National Executive would undoubtedly have endorsed President Nyerere’s preference, thus indeed making the selected candidate ‘Nyerere’s man’. But the proceedings are in private and neither we nor the press can know for certain whether he intervened to give his own view. It is very unlikely that he did. President Nyerere was at the greatest pains to follow the democratic procedure laid down in the Constitution and to ensure the widest possible backing for the chosen candidate. Apart from directing attention to one aspect or other requiring to be considered, he is most unlikely to have tried to influence the outcome. Ali Hassan Mwinyi is known to have been popular in Tanzania and the size of his support in the National Conference, 1,731 to 14, in a body widely representative of opinion and containing all the Members of Parliament and 10 members elected by each of the 104 District Conferences of the Party, seems to bear out this impression.

The name of Ali Hassan Mwinyi now goes to the country on 27th. October on the basis of universal adult suffrage for a yes or no vote; to be elected he must attract yes votes from at least half of those voting. The new President will then be sworn in on 4th. November and on the following day the names of the new cabinet will be announced. Under the 1985 Constitution there will be two Vice-Presidents, the person elected as President of Zanzibar and the person chosen by the President as Prime Minister of the Union. As Mwinyi is from Zanzibar, it follows that in the event of his election the Prime Minister will be the First Vice-President and will be from the mainland. This appears to rule out Salim Ahmed Salim as Prime Minister.

J. Roger Carter

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