NEW TRENDS IN BY-ELECTIONS

There have been three by-elections in recent weeks:

Busandu, Geita
There was plenty of drama during the intensely-fought Busandu by-election which took place on May 24. Once again there was a poor turnout with only 55,460 voters (41%) casting their ballots out of 135,168 registered voters. CCM won with 29,242 and the leading opposition party on the mainland CHADEMA got 22,799. The other main opposition CUF party must have been very disappointed by its 957 votes.

Veteran CCM leader Ngombale-Mwiru, said the problem for CHADEMA was that it was facing CCM with its strong and organised network of branches and leaders right down to the village level, while CHADEMA depended on its helicopter, rabble rousers and cheer leaders. “At the end of the day people leave noisy rallies and go back to the CCM network. What CHADEMA lacks is a grass roots organisation. Among the opposition parties only CUF is well organised in Zanzibar,” Ngombale- Mwiru said.

However, CHADEMA Deputy Secretary General Zitto Kabwe pointed out that his party had increased its votes in Busanda from 4% in 2005 to 44% in 2009. He told reporters: “This time they won; now we are waiting for the next by-election in Biharamulo. I have called the CCM deputy Secretary General and congratulated him on his victory” – details were in all the Swahili newspapers.

Biharamulo
The CCM party came very close to losing the fiercely contested by-election in Biharamulo West. The CCM got 17,561 votes against 16,700 for CHADEMA – a majority of only 861. The by-election also illustrated the growing strength of CHADEMA which got 48.8% of the vote. The other major opposition party CUF, which rarely does well on the mainland, got very few votes.
An angry CHADEMA Chairman Freeman Mbowe said that the results had been doctored and warned that the “conspiracy” between the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and CCM was a recipe for “disorder and bloodshed” in the country. “In any case it shows we are now a formidable force ready to take over from CCM, especially if you compare this result with our past performances.” He said that his party didn’t intend to file a petition because the NEC had already announced that there would be no more by-elections until the 2010 elections, so even if CHADEMA succeeded in unseating CCM the result would be no MP for Biharamulo. Once again there was a low turnout – of the 87,188 voters on the permanent register, only 35,338 (41%) cast their ballots – The Citizen.

Magogoni, Zanzibar
At the Magogoni by-election, at which 13 EU observers were present, the CCM candidate, Asha Hilal, won comfortably with 2,874 votes compared with the opposition CUF’s 1,974. “The election was free and fair and I have conceded defeat,” the CUF candidate said. The Zanzibar Electoral Commission applauded the political maturity and tolerance shown by the political parties during the by-election and said that this was a manifestation that Zanzibar could conduct free and fair elections devoid of chaos. Since the introduction of a multiparty system in 1992, Zanzibar has held reconciliation talks twice following political instability in the
Isles resulting from alleged electoral misconduct – Guardian.

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