HOW STRONG IS THE OPPOSITION?

A revealing analysis conducted by the Danish aid agency DANIDA and reported in the Business Times (January 20) indicated that in the most recent test of voter opinion – the local government elections held late last year the opposition parties did very much better than at first appeared. The full results were not published. Of the 2,411 wards on the mainland, contested elections were held in 1,226 wards while in the remaining 1,185 CCM candidates were elected unopposed.

DANIDA was unable to obtain data from the Kigoma (where the opposition scored well), Tanga, Rukwa, Lindi and Singida regions but it was able to study 537 of the contested wards in the other regions.

OPPOSITION WON ONLY 3% OF THE SEATS BUT 26% OF THE VOTE

Because Tanzania has opted for a ‘first-past-the-post’ or ‘winner takes all’ and not a proportional representation system of elections the results examined showed that the opposition parties won over a quarter of the vote but gained only 3% of the seats. In Mara Region the opposition got 36% of the votes.

Thus, although the opposition parties fought against each other, obtained little or no publicity on Radio Tanzania and had very limited funds, they did garner, on a 50% voter turnout, a surprisingly large number of supporters. If a system of proportional representation were in effect (something which would have the support of many including the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission, Justice Lewis Makame) and the opposition were to unite, now that it has a credible presidential candidate, it could do very well in the next elections.

But it remains divided. Only four of the 12 registered parties obtained a significant number of local council seats;

CHADEMA 23
Civic United Front 21
United Democratic Party (UDP) 16
NCCR-Mageuzi 15

SETBACKS FOR CCM
The CCM has had a number of other setbacks recently. The Court of Appeal ruled that the successful CCM candidate in the February 14, 1994 Kigoma by-election, Mr Azim Premji, was not a Tanzanian citizen and upheld an earlier High Court decision annulling the results of the by-election. CCM leaders (including Mr Mrema) had intimidated voters, the Judge said, the counting of votes had not been fair and Radio Tanzania had campaigned for the CCM. Amidst strong protests from the opposition, the National Electoral Commission subsequently stated that a new by-election could not be held this year on the grounds that it was time-barred – it had to be held six months before the general election and this was no longer possible.

Then, after a long court case, the election last year of the CCM Mayor of Dar es Salaam, said to be a close collaborator of President Mwinyi, was declared nul and void.

OPINION POLL
The Swahili newspaper ‘Heko’ carried out an opinion poll in Dar es Salaam in January and found that Christopher Mtikila, the firebrand leader of the unregistered Democratic Party remained the most popular politician (with 41% of the votes); Mr Njelu Kasaka came second (18%). The best contender to succeed President Mwinyi was said to be Lands Minister Edward Lowassa (22%) followed by businessman Reginald Mengi. Former President Julius Nyerere was very much more popular (77%) than President Mwinyi (23%). Former Finance Minister Kighoma Malima was said to have been voted the most untrustworthy politician.

ELECTION OBSERVERS
Mr Justice Makame has indicated the National Electoral Commission’s views on observers for the October elections. He said, at a three-day seminar on multi-party elections, in late January: “We have nothing to hide so we do not seek to stop any observers, local or international, from carrying out their assignments. For reasons which are obvious – we would not know where to stop – we do not take the initiative of inviting any observer …. provided that observers do not seek to influence the trend and pervert the process, there is no harm in having people distant enough from the wood to be able to see the trees … Observers should be in place well before the election day and they should be conversant with our rules to be able to gauge properly what is going on. Their presence would promote credibility in the electoral process to some people …. foreign observers could usefully operate with local observers”.

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