OPPOSITION ALMOST DEMOLISHED
Mr Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development for the last ten years, swept to a massive victory in Tanzania’s general elections, considered to have been broadly free and fair, on December 14th.
The presidential result was expected but, when the results of the parliamentary elections came in, they were a surprise to many seasoned observers of the Tanzanian political scene and even to some of the leaders of the ruling CCM party. Many could not understand why Tanzania’s love affair with the CCM party, which has lasted for 44 years, has not diminished but has actually increased. Many had expected that, at least in the elections for MP’s, one or two of the 17 opposition parties would have increased their representation but this did not happen.
In the presidential election, Kikwete secured just over 80% of votes. Six out of the ten presidential candidates came from one region – Kilimanjaro.
In the election for seats in the National Assembly CCM won 206 out of the 232 elected members, CUF won 19, all from Zanzibar (it lost both of its previously held mainland seats), CHADEMA 5, (formerly 4) , TLP 1 (formerly 1) and UDP 1 (formerly 1). The Guardian reported that some 60 of the new MP’s will be sitting in the National Assembly for the first time. At least 40 of the newcomers are from CCM and the rest from three opposition parties – CUF, Chadema and TLP. Tanzania Labour Party leader Augustine Mrema came out fourth in the presidential race compared with third last time.
WHY? Why did most Tanzanians decide to virtually demolish all the opposition parties and revert to a situation, which, but for the strength of the opposition in Zanzibar, would have reverted to a virtual one party parliament ? When the late Mwalimu Nyerere introduced multi-party politics three elections ago, most Tanzanians were not keen on the idea. They had seen how much trouble had come out of competitive politics in other African countries and this time again they appear to have been determined not to let the peace and stability, for which the country is famed, be lost. Among other factors favouring CCM were the vast sums of money the party had at its disposal and the weakness and divisions between the 17 opposition parties and their lack of charismatic leadership. Only one of the opposition candidates for the presidency – Freeman Mbowe of CHADEMA – made a real impression, by coming up with some new policies and explaining them at up to ten meetings a day in remote villages as he travelled by helicopter. He must have been very disappointed to have increased his number of MP’s from four to only five and to have lost stalwart former MP’s in Kigoma and Kilimanjaro regions. During the campaign he was quoted as saying “Even if I don’t win (i.e. making it to the State House) my message has at least reached the intended audience”. He has been widely described as an ‘up and coming politician’.
With the exception of a handful of seats, the CCM bulldozer reigned supreme even in many seats in which CCM had earlier been divided in its choice of candidate. The Chinese News Agency, which takes a close interest in Tanzania wrote: ‘In a combination of the Kikwete factor, or more appropriately, the ‘Kikwete avalanche’ and the monies spent in the campaigns, the opposition stood no chance, as the devastation was total, a situation quite characteristic of any African country whose people reel in abject poverty’. According to Hilal K Sued in the Sunday Observer the only real news for journalists in the results was when the opposition took a seat or two from the ruling party, as in Tarime, Mpanda Central, and Biharamulo, or when they lost seats they already held as in Kilimanjaro and Shinyanga regions. CCM suffered a severe loss in the Moshi Urban seat which had been retained by the shrewd CHADEMA incumbent, Philemon Ndesamburo. At a fundraising event in Moshi, that had been graced by President Benjamin Mkapa himself, about TSh 500 million had been contributed by various people, including businessmen, to ‘liberate’ the four constituencies that were in opposition hands in Kilimanjaro region. CCM’s candidate in Moshi Urban was President Mkapa’s sister in law, Elizabeth Minde who lost for the second time. There were also one or two constituencies where the figures didn’t add up. In Temeke in Dar es Salaam 100,000 registered voters were said not to have voted – one third of all those who registered. This problem was mentioned by the African Union’s Observer Team although it gave the elections as a whole much praise.
SOME INDIVIDUAL RESULTS
Veteran politician and CCM Vice-Chairman John Malecela won his seat in Dodoma with 42,994 votes against the CUF candidate who came second with 1,928 votes. New faces in the Assembly include Attorney General Andrew Chenge and seasoned politician John Magalle Shibuda, who won the Bariadi West and Maswa seats, respectively. The result in the Ubungu constituency in Dar es Salaam (see below), where there were over a dozen candidates, gave CCM ‘s Charles Keenja victory by some 90,000 votes to the young CHADEMA candidate John John Mnyika’s about 45,000. In Ulanga West Cabinet Minister Dr Juma Ngasongwa defeated Professor Melchior Mlambiti of TLP by a narrow margin of 3,747 votes. He got 22,186 votes. In Bukoba Urban CUF suffered a severe setback when its MP Wilfred Lwakatare (18,596 votes), who was leader of the opposition in the last parliament, was defeated by CCM’s former diplomat Khamis Kagasheki (18,755 votes). Majority 186. In an angry demonstration during which he was arrested Lwakatare refused to accept the results and said that the election had been rigged in favour of CCM. Some of his agents had been prevented from witnessing the counting of votes, and voter intimidation had been widespread on election day, with ‘hundreds’ of riot police patrolling the streets instilling fear into voters minds. In Kilimanjaro Region, Basil Mramba of CCM retained his Rombo seat by polling 62,108 votes with CHADEMA’s Lokori Damas Ng’anja coming a distant second on 12,335 votes.