POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS

Intense competition for seats

Some CCM MP’s are not sure of retaining their seats in the elections next year due to the intense rivalries in their constituencies. Raia Mwema named 15 well-known MP’s and ministers whose seats were said to be in danger. The battle seems to have already begun although this is contrary to electoral law.
Meanwhile CHADEMA Chairman, Freeman Mbowe has launched a series of rallies under the title ‘Operation Sangara’. In one ward in Moshi people donated more than TShs 300,000 to help the Operation and in another ward people donated TShs 600,000. Mbowe said CHADEMA needed financial support, unlike CCM, which got TShs 2 billion in state subventions every month – Majira.

Opposition MP bugged

The rooms in a Dodoma hotel in which the opposition CHADEMA’s Secretary General Dr Wilbroad Slaa and a fellow CHADEMA MP were staying was bugged recently. The device used was a digital sound recorder made in Russia. Mwananchi quoted the acting CHADEMA Secretary General John Mnyika as claiming that the bugging was part of a broader conspiracy against Dr Slaa and other outspoken MPs.

By-election ‘inquests’

There have been all kinds of ‘inquests’ into what happened in the recent Mbeya by-election which was won comfortably by the ruling CCM party. The big surprise was that the results set a new record with 65% of the registered voters failing to turn up to vote. Why? One reason given was that they did not see any real choice between CCM and CUF, after the CHADEMA candidate (who was said to be popular) was disqualified because he used the wrong lawyer when submitting his application. Voters may have assumed that CCM would win easily and that there was therefore no point in voting. Officially, CCM was said to have won the seat with 73% of the votes but it was 73% of the 35% of those who voted. Questions were raised when counting of the small number of votes in the 17 wards took 10 hours despite the low turn out. CUF Chairman Ibrahim Lipumba told the Guardian that a big number of would-be voters reported having had their IDs taken away by village and ward executive officers as a condition for being given vouchers for fertilisers.
While support for CHADEMA on the mainland seems to be growing, CUF still seems to find it difficult to appeal to mainland voters. The two parties who are supposed to be joined in an election pact are falling apart as they are unable to agree on candidates to stand against CCM in by-elections. Although their leaders are reported to be working together in Parliament they seem to be having real problems cooperating at party level in by-elections.

Two by-elections pending

The present political temperature in Tanzania is likely to be revealed when two by-elections take place in May. One is at Magogoni in Zanzibar where, among the first CCM members to compete for selection as the party’s candidate, was the son of former Zanzibar President Salmin Amour but he received only five votes during the party’s selection process.

The other by-election was to be in Busandu in Geita District and once again it seemed that CCM might win because of the intense rivalry between the opposition parties CHADEMA and CUF, both of which selected candidates to fight each other.
CCM challenges Mbowe

According to Mtanzania the CCM has claimed that CHADEMA leader Freeman Mbowe had ‘misused’ TShs 78 million given to him by the British Conservative Party for buying motorbikes. He had also been asked to account for TShs 15 million earmarked for bicycles for party councillors around the country. The CCM Treasurer said “Let him stop beating about the bush. He promised bicycles to the councillors. Where are they? If they intend to fight corruption let them start with themselves instead of accusing CCM all the time.”

“CUF victory in Zanzibar is a pipedream”

According to Habari Leo President Kikwete surprised many when addressing a crowd in the CUF stronghold of Pemba by saying that it was unlikely the opposition parties in Zanzibar would ever get to form the government. It was therefore in their interest to cooperate with the CCM government to bring about development. “Don’t wait for your party to win power, because that day may never come,” he said.

Zanzibar Minister: “We won’t share oil revenue”

The Act which originally established the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) ruled that exploiting oil and natural gas was a Union responsibility and not the responsibility of the Zanzibar government. However, Zanzibaris have not been happy about this and the disagreement has held up exploration in Zanzibar territory.

Addressing the House of Representatives, Zanzibar’s Minister for Water, Works, Energy and Land, Mansoor Himid, said the government wanted to remove the clause on oil and natural gas from the list of issues dealt with by the Union government on the ground that it did not benefit Zanzibaris. He said it was a contradiction of the Union constitution and that of Zanzibar. CUF MP’s agreed.
A team of British consultants had recommended that oil remain a Union matter and that a special joint body should be set up to oversee licensing, prospecting and drilling. Himid told the House, to considerable applause, that the Zanzibar government rejected these recommendations.
The consultants had noted that the oil deposit in Zanzibar was very small and was therefore not economically viable. One MP said: “Even if it is only a pint it is ours and ours alone” – Mtanzania.

Muslims declare jihad

The ‘League for Awakening and Propagation of Islam’ in Zanzibar (JUMIKI), also quoted in Mtanzania, declared that people supported the Zanzibar government and were prepared to form a special squad to defend the oil deposits in the island. A spokesman said: “We will volunteer to work with local forces such as the coastal guards (KMKM), the National Service (JKU), fire brigade and militia to protect our oilfields.” Minister Himid later said that the government had accepted the recommendations of the House over oil and they would be tabled before the Revolutionary Council. The final recommendations would be handed to Zanzibar Chief Minister Shamsi Nahodha to present to the joint Union Consultative Committee. Nahodha promised to work on the recommendations of the House “in the interest of Zanzibaris.”

CUF elections

The CUF party held elections for its top posts in March. Its leader, Prof. Ibrahim Lipumba (56), although he was unsuccessful in fighting for the presidency of Tanzania in 1995, 2000 and 2005, won a landside victory amongst party delegates with 646 votes. A retired army officer, Stephen Massanja came second with 10 votes but a Professor Abdul Safari (56) who came third with six votes, complained that the entire party machine had been mobilised against him. Seif Shariff Hamad, the leader of the CUF party in Zanzibar, easily held on to his position as Party Secretary General – The Citizen.

‘Pinda and the Speaker should learn from Obama’

The Muslim newspaper An-Noor in an editorial in April wrote that, while he was in Turkey, President Obama told Muslims that the USA “is not, and will never be, at war with Islam”. Extracts from the article:

‘Obama then spoke to university students. As he was answering their questions, the mosques started calling worshippers to prayers. Obama told the students he would have to wind up as it was time for prayers. This is a far cry from the attitude of our Speaker Samuel Sitta and Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda. For them Friday prayer time was an appropriate time for them to present speeches for winding up the Parliamentary session. Our leaders need to learn from their mentor (Obama), for many a time we see state officials ignoring Muslims while planning their meetings. Of course, Obama has a long way to go, for his peace overture to Muslims is not enough while he continues arming and empowering Israel to massacre Muslims in Gaza.’

1 Comment »

  1. Tanzanian Affairs » ZANZIBAR, THE UNION AND OIL said,

    September 1, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    […] TA 93 described how a row had developed over who is responsible for any oil that might be discovered in Zanzibar – the Union government or the Zanzibar government. The row has continued with the Zanzibar cabinet insisting on Zanzibar’s right to the oil. […]

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