POLITICS

by David Brewin

Yet another political party
As if Tanzania did not have enough political parties – there are twenty – there is now another one! This party, now going through the processes of official registration, bears the name; ‘The Alliance for Change and Transparency’ (ACT). It is believed that it has been set up by former members of the leading opposition party Chadema, which is the only party to have a chance of defeating the ruling CCM party in the 2015 elections. CCM has been in power for more than 50 years. ACT’s interim chairman said that the party would be guided by five principles – patriotism, equality, accountability, transparency and true democracy.

‘Traitors’ in Chadema
The main opposition party Chadema, which did well in the 2010 elections, is now being torn apart by internal dissension. According to The Citizen, a group of its members have written to the Registrar of Political Parties on alleged illegal amendments to the party’s constitution, and to the Controller and Auditor General requesting an audit of the party’s accounts. Others have apparently accused the party of removing illegally a section on term limits for presidential candidates in Chadema’s constitution which could have made the party’s two main leaders ineligible for leadership posts’.

Some observers think that these events are simply ‘business as usual’ in Tanzanian politics ahead of elections. Many of these members have defected before – mainly from CCM to Chadema or other smaller parties.

Potentially more damaging is the revolt of perhaps Chadema’s most ambitious and charismatic former Deputy Secretary General, Zitto Kabwe, MP for Kigoma. Kabwe has been virtually expelled, together with other party members in the Kigoma and Tabora regions. He played an important role (see TA 108) in establishing the party’s growth, especially among the younger generation.

CCM in trouble too
In the case of CCM, too many people want to put themselves forward as candidates for the presidency. But the party has severely frowned on this premature campaigning and is threatening severe penalties for those engaged in it.

All this is disheartening for those wanting Tanzania to develop into a democracy on the British model where governments change from time to time to reflect the changing views of the electorate. But most Tanzanians regard security and peace as their highest priorities. People continue to vote for CCM in large numbers because, unlike the situation in all its neighbours, Tanzania and CCM have given the country peace and a relatively good state of law and order.

Calm before the storm
The present political scene, and especially the highly contentious debate on the constitution, could lead to stormy times in the next few months. With most politicians installed in Dodoma for the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly, the ruling party and the opposition parties have begun to worry seriously about the forthcoming 2015 elections. For the first time, three main opposition parties have come together in a ‘Coalition of the Peoples Constitution’ (UKAWA). Unless the CCM drops its determination to continue with two governments, Chadema has threatened to boycott further meetings of the Constituent Assembly (see separate article).

Chadema goes much further in threatening not to take part in the 2015 elections under the current constitution because they claim (perhaps with some justification) that the present law favours the CCM. Chadema is concerned to ensure that the nearly six million new young voters will be correctly registered before the 2015 elections. It fears that the country could go to the polls before a new and fairer constitution comes into effect. It wants to see the setting up of a new; independent (of government) Electoral Commission which will not receive orders from any government authority and will have only members not belonging to any political party. It also points out that, although over 20 million people registered to vote in the last election in 2010, only 8.6 million actually voted.

Municipal elections are due in October this year but the present National Electoral Commission says that it cannot afford to update the register twice between the two elections and is seeking funds to buy a biometric system with which to update the permanent voter register for both the constitutional referendum and the 2015 general election (but not for the local elections this year).

Salim retires from the ring
Respected Tanzanian ‘elder statesman’ Salim Ahmed Salim, who is highly qualified for the presidency and reached the last stage of the presidential primary contest in 2005, has indicated that he no longer plans to stand for the presidency in 2015. He is believed to have been disillusioned by ‘political machinations’ at that time. He said that a good track record in leadership had not been enough to guarantee him victory. He is now 72 and says that younger blood should get the chance.

What next for President Kikwete?
President Kikwete has received much praise following his recent recognition by the African Leadership Magazine as Africa’s ‘Most impactful Leader of the year 2013’. In a rare interview with the press, the President told The East African that when he returned to private life he would look after his cattle and expand his pineapple farm.

The costs of democracy
The Tanzanian government has released the amount of subsidy it paid, during a recent four-year period, to the political parties. The figures correspond to the strength of the party representation in the National Assembly and the Zanzibar House of Representatives.
The amounts received were as follows:
CCM – $31.8 million
CHADEMA – $5.75 million
Civic United Front – $3.93 million
NCCR Mageuzi – $423,125
Tanzania Labour Party – $135,025
United Democratic Party – $20,625
APT Maendeleo – $ 6,875
Democratic Party – $2,062

The quality of financial control exercised by the parties left much to be desired and the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee revealed that none of the political parties had kept proper financial records. Some parties did not even have bank accounts! Presumably, in these cases, the money went in to private accounts. The then chairman of the committee, Zitto Kabwe, was quoted in the East African as saying that political financing was the largest single driver of large-scale corruption. “It has taken four years for this audit to be implemented but it has been done and we have shown that fighting corruption must start with political institutions. A foundation has been built for cleaner politics.”

The immigration problem
As in Britain, immigration is becoming a major political issue in Tanzania. Legislation is being considered for possible action on foreign workers. President Kikwete has said that the number of foreign workers has reached an “alarmingly high figure” and that a bill will be introduced in Parliament in October to limit the number of work permits issued to foreigners, even if they come from other parts of East Africa. The other members of the East African Community seem likely to oppose this.

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