The long-gestation process of the American electoral system is being emulated in Tanzania. Although the country’s general election is more than a year away, hardly a day goes by without some new development on the political scene as parties and personalities prepare themselves for the struggle ahead. The following represents a very brief summary of what is being reported in the English language and Swahili press.
THE NATIONAL PICTURE
On the mainland the political situation remains stable and largely peaceful. Most of the news is of internal strife amongst members of Tanzania’s dozen or so opposition parties.
Under intense pressure from these opposition parties the Government finally agreed in July that it was now appropriate to review the composition of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to accommodate members from different political parties. Its new structure would be clarified when the Government presented before Parliament a 14th Constitutional Amendment Bill later this year – Guardian.
The chairman of the main opposition party, the Civic United Front (CUF) Prof. Ibrahim Lipumba, has said that the breach of laid down procedures and outright rigging of elections by the Government would not deter CUF from taking part because it had become accustomed to such actions. He said that, instead of boycotting the elections, his party would embark on voter education and the training of CUF representatives – Mtanzania.
As this issue of TA was due to go to the printers the Swahili press was speculating about reports that the CCM parties in Tanga and in Magu, Mwanza region were divided but this could not be confirmed. CCM has a remarkable record of unity over the years. Potential presidential candidates are, however, stepping up their efforts in the hope of attaining the ultimate prize.
There was a minor incident on June 16 when a rowdy gang attacked Prof. Lipumba while he was on a tour of Bukoba Urban constituency. He escaped unhurt, but several other people in his entourage were injured and had to be hospitalised. He said that the personal effects and TShs 395,000/- belonging to one of those injured were stolen in the commotion. The police subsequently arrested six people – Guardian.
As always, the political situation in Zanzibar is much more boisterous but Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pandu Ameir Kificho, told a delegation of visiting UK MP’s at the end of July that the Zanzibar House had been carrying out its affairs democratically. He said that representatives from both the ruling CCM and CUF had been working together democratically and harmoniously. He said the democratic spirit prevailed during debates in the House – Guardian.
A CUF spokesperson in Zanzibar has said that his party intended to form a coalition government if it won. It had promised to offer one of the highest posts to the current Isles President, Amani Karume. He said that a coalition government was the only option to heal the wounds of political tension brought about by CCM and CUF rivalry in the Isles. “We want to show our kindness. We’ll form a coalition government, as we pledged, as that is the sure way of resolving the political problem in Zanzibar,” he said amid thunderous applaud from CUF supporters.
But Zanzibar CCM Chief Minister Shamsi Vuai Nahodha then ruled out any possibility of the formation of a government of national unity in the Isles. He told the seven MP’s visiting from the UK that due to political disparity, there was no possibility that an opposition party would be able to implement the ruling party’s policies. “Doing so would amount to killing itself politically,” he added – Guardian.
Donor concerns over the misuse of financial aid for implementation of the peace accord or Muafaka in Zanzibar between the CCM and CUF have been vindicated. A three-man ad hoc committee’s report has confirmed the misuse of funds in the procurement of vehicles by members of the Muafaka secretariat. On April 24th the former project manager of the Presidential Commission on the Accord, Mbarouk Omar Mohamed, was transferred to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam and appeared in court to answer charges of embezzling some TShs 29 million of public and property. In May it was reported that Police had arrested Mohamed at the Dar Es Salaam International Airport where he was about to board a Kenya Airways flight out of the country. – Majira.
A CUF spokesman claimed in June that soldiers were being moved to the CUF stronghold of Pemba ahead of the elections. “Ships arriving in Pemba are full of soldiers. Why send so many soldiers to Pemba while we are not in a state of war?” he queried. He challenged those claiming that CUF was a terrorist organisation to come up with concrete evidence to support their allegations that the opposition party was behind a spate of bombings that rocked Zanzibar a few months ago. In his speech during the Zanzibar Budget debate in the House of Representatives, CUF Shadow Finance Minister, Abass Muhunzi said the Government had not published a report on the bombing incidents. “People are wondering why the government has decided to remain mum on the Zanzibar bombings while a report on the State House fire has already been made public,” he said – Guardian.
There have been a number of attacks on CCM party property including the CCM HQ in Kisiwandui and the CCM branch in Boma Kitope, the night before a planned rally. The Kitope area has many residents of mainland origin and they have been facing threats from CUF members warning them against registering as voters. At Kisiwandui on July 11 the attackers injured a senior official and damaged the official car of CCM Deputy Secretary-General Saleh Feruzi. Field Force Unit (FFU) officers guarding the building fired in the air to disperse the crowd. The procession was initially peaceful and traffic police officers posted in front and at the back were at hand to bolster security. However, the mood of the marchers changed abruptly when they reached the CCM building. The procession was meant to give support to a speech delivered by CUF Secretary-General Seif Shariff Hamad, shortly after his return from abroad – Sunday Observer, Uhuru and Nipashe.
CUF Secretary General Seif Shariff Hamad has been quoted in Nipashe as saying that some highly placed people were conspiring to arrest him and top CUF officials just before the elections. He also said that come what may he would win the Zanzibar presidency.
The Zanzibar House of Representatives suspended CUF Chambani MP Abbas Juma Mhunzi for defaming Zanzibar President Karume by alleging that oil prices in the Isles had been set according to state house instructions for the benefit of Zanzibar VIPs – Majira.
As this issue of Tanzanian Affairs was being sent to the printers we received a copy of a letter from CUF MP’s which accompanied a petition signed by 5,000 people, and has been sent to Secretary General of the United Nations Koffi Annan – Editor. Amongst many allegations made in the letter were the following:
‘Under the Muafaka it was agreed to set up a new Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) in which the Opposition will be represented, that a credible Permanent Voters’ Register will be compiled, that the state-controlled media will give equitable coverage to all parties, that the Police and other state organs will be reformed to make them non-partisan and that the judiciary will be reformed to make it impartial and enhance its standing in the eyes of the public…..
With the elections only eighteen months away, the situation is becoming volatile:
– A number of substantive areas of the Accord such as the judicial reforms, police and state organs reform, publicly owned media reforms and reform of the ZEC Secretariat are yet to be implemented;
– The delayed Voters’ Register has still to begin to be compiled;
– The Zanzibar Government has embarked on a major campaign to register people from Mainland Tanzania who have not been ordinarily resident in Zanzibar for a minimum of 10 years as the two parties had agreed;
– The Electoral Commission, which is dominated by the ruling CCM, is busy manoeuvring to redraw the electoral boundaries to favour the ruling party, trying to reduce the number of seats in Pemba, which is an Opposition stronghold, to Unguja where they hope to have better control;
– The Zanzibar Government is also busy beefing up its Special Defence and Security forces, employing only CCM members, and establishing their camps in marginal electoral constituencies to ensure the ruling party wins.’
The letter ended: ‘Your Excellency, after Rwanda and some other calamities in Africa over the past decade, we hope that the international community, and especially the United Nations, will not be caught napping again. Zanzibar may be a small place, but even small people have their rights for which they can fight.’
WHICH PARTY WILL WIN?
The results of a number of local council by-elections on the mainland on June 6 indicated that CCM should win the national elections next year with ease. CCM won almost all the seats. In Bariadi East, Mwanza Region, a stronghold of the opposition UDP, its candidate, John Cheyo, nicknamed Bwana Mapesa, himself the leader of the party, was narrowly defeated. The seat was formerly held by a former UDP MP but it fell vacant after the MP crossed back to CCM following some misunderstanding between him and John Cheyo. After the Returning Officer announced that the CCM had won, Cheyo accepted that his rival had defeated him. He was quoted as having said that he was returning to Dar es Salaam with a clean heart and without grudges even though there had been a few irritating election hitches here and there.
This Bariadi spirit however was lacking in Kilimanjaro Region where the ruling CCM also defeated the opposition by winning three council seats previously held by Augustine Mrema’s Tanzania Labour Party (TLP). Here, when the returning officer announced the results, TLP immediately stated that it would challenge them in court. TLP alleged foul play by the National Electoral Commission alleging that the Commission officers had brought forged forms to the constituency in favour of CCM. Mrema accused the CCM of vote stealing. Mrema also took offence when another opposition party, CHADEMA, defeated TLP in one ward.
In Tanga CCM won 790 seats out of 821. The rest went to CUF (21), TLP (7), UDP (2) and CHADEMA (1) – Uhuru.
WHO WILL BE PRESIDENT?
According to the Swahili press, a poll conducted by the Business Times and the Media Express companies, which involved 37,119 respondents, put Foreign Affairs Minister Jakaya Kikwete in the lead as the next President of Tanzania on 23% followed by the main opposition CUF chairman Professor Lipumba with 19%. The Chairman of the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim got 11% and the names of some ten other possible candidates were mentioned. (For more information on this subject see TA No 78.)