On the mainland there has been little political controversy during recent weeks. A newspaper poll has indicated the continued popularity of President Mkapa and the collapse of the only viable opposition party – the NCCR- Mageuzi (as explained in the last two issues of ‘Tanzanian Affairs’) has made his task easier. Some observers however detect an increase in internal differences within the ruling party which President Mkapa must keep under control if he is to ensure his selection as candidate for the next Presidential elections in the year 2000.
The ruling CCM party continues to profit greatly from the split in the NCCR-Mageuzi between its Chairman, Augustine Mrema, and its Secretary General Mabere Marando and their respective followers. CCM is claiming considerable success in its campaign, especially in the NCCR stronghold of Kilimanjaro Region, to bring back former members who deserted the party to join the NCCR.
Mr Marando has said that he would be willing to work with Mrema if he stopped his dictatorship. Augustine Mrema complained that, during a visit to the southern regions of the country, he had been barred from holding meetings ‘just because his party was in a political crisis’. The crisis, he said, had been caused by the government and Marando was just a government agent. Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye was quoted in the ‘Daily News’ as vigorously denying these accusations and other government sources indicated that Mrema’s rallies sometimes had to be banned because of friction between members of the strife-ridden party itself.
In the light of the collapse of the opposition, CCM had little difficulty in ensuring the election of its candidate, Raphael Mlolwa, as MP for Kahama at a by-election on March 1″ even though, in the last general election, six opposition parties obtained 30,335 votes compared with only 21,894 for the CCM. The seat could probably have been won if the opposition was united.
CCM’s Felix Mrema earlier won from NCCR the Arusha Urban by- election. At his swearing in ceremony in Parliament members of both the CCM and the opposition cheered when, after being congratulated by the Prime Minister, Felix Mrema went on to embrace opposition leader Augustine Mrema.
A by-election was scheduled for May 3 in the Singida constituency following the death of the MP Mr Joseph Monko.
SUBSIDIES TO PARTIES
The ‘Daily News’ reports that there have been increasing complaints about the wisdom of the hard-pressed government continuing to pay subsidies to the political parties. These amount to Shs 360 million per month to the CCM, Shs 47 million to CUF, Shs 32 million to NCCR-Mageuzi and Shs 6.7 million each to CHADEMA and the UDP.
Eight opposition political parties have set up an ‘Inter-Political Parties Committee for Constitutional Reform (KAMAKA)’ under the chairmanship of Bob Makani of the small CHADEMA party to ‘recommend necessary changes in the constitution’. The Committee said that the country’s constitution still described Tanzania as following a policy of socialism and self-reliance. Other points made were that private candidates for election to parliament were still forbidden and that government appointed Regional Commissioners should not be in parliament and be MP’s at the same time.
There was a serious riot at the Magomeni Mwembechai Mosque in Dar es Salaam on February 13. Four police posts and their communication facilities were vandalised, 35 motor vehicles were damaged and two were set on fire. Six people were injured by stones, sticks and iron bars. The Police arrested 261 people who were later taken to court. The trouble seemed to be caused by faction differences amongst Muslims at the Mosque but some Christians took advantage of the mayhem and took part in looting. Two people were killed, allegedly by the police trying to restore order. This resulted in further trouble at the Mosque on March 29 when young Muslims started throwing stones at police, burnt two vehicles and attacked a CCM office. Fifty people were arrested.