The year 2015 witnesses Tanzania’s 5th general election involving many political parties. The stakes are high on both contending sides—for reasons which may not be the same.
We who are watching the race toward national leadership from the side lines do overhear discussions about what may be the driving motives for the current race for leadership among some of the candidates and get worried peace may be in danger.
One of the presidential candidates is allegedly the African face of the Asian community in Tanzania holding ill-gotten wealth. He is heavily financed by the community to win the election. He has finances capable of moving a mountain into the sea.
But of course that is NOT to condemn every Asian doing business in Tanzania. This website does not have evidence to suggest each and every Asian in Tanzania got rich through corruptly amassed wealth–the kind you would get from the so-called RICHMOND Scandal, the EPA scandal or the Radar scandal.
To the contrary, this website has evidence some Tanzanians of Asian origin made a great contribution toward building this nation in the past. One such Tanzanian that comes to mind is Amir Jamal, the one time Minister of Finance in Tanzania who oversaw the construction of the defunct Morogoro Canvas, Morogoro Hides and Skins, Morogoro Carpets, and the strengthening of Mtibwa Sugar in Morogoro, as well as Kilombero sugar. That is to say yes, there are some good people in this community.
The Asians at issue here, therefore, are those known to be corrupt.
This Asian community, which comprises of less than a million people in Tanzania, but which allegedly controls a very large percentage of the national economy, wants to feel safe from harm by placing their candidate in state house, the argument goes. They need a protector of their business interests in a country filled with pent-up anger the result of rising inequality.
This first scenario pits an angry populace against the political party which fields this candidate, the argument being that Tanzania should not come under the control of a stooge of a foreign clique corruptly bleeding the national economy. There are also general conclusions the existing government has failed to control corruption, it has failed to control inflation in real terms.
When these complaints are added to the rising inequality, salt is sprinkled on an open wound. An angry populace is looking at the ruling party as a problem, rather than a solution–even if they may field a candidate relatively clean.
At the time of writing this commentary, the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party has received 29 requests from its members asking for nomination for the party’s presidential candidate. The aspirants include the current Tanzania Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Bernard Membe, the Minister without portfolio in the President’s Office, Mark Mwandosya, The Tanzania Vice President Dr. Mohamed Gharib Bilal and the Former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa.
Now; while this may signal good health in terms of internal party democracy, a different argument says 29 people asking to becomes president from one party devalues the presidency. Can everybody become president? The answer is no! It looks more like a crave for power motivated by a dire crave for corruption money available in the presidency.
The coalition of opposition parties, UKAWA, was recently formed to attempt a unified struggle– first to defend the popular support for a new constitution which seeks to create a three-tier form of Government in Tanzania, and now to attempt a unified election manifesto in the 2015 general elections and thus a plan to field one presidential candidate. But there is a problem.
The opposition enjoys growing popular support from a population ready for change. In fact the population is so ready for change there are places voters will elect anybody to government office from the opposition, even if that person may be a political novice—just to have change. This is the reason pockets of society have chosen poorly educated people to office, political green horns just out of university and college drop-outs.
It is an open secret Tanzania’s educated elite is extremely cautious about joining the opposition. It is only the daring educated individual who will join the opposition. Many have held a wait-and see stance for the last 23 years since formation of multi-party politics in Tanzania, even when they may hold secret opposition party cards.
But information from the general public indicates this year is likely to see a slight increase in the number of the educated secret card holders coming out into the open to contest for various posts. But these contestants will be fielded by political parties with structures managed by semi-illiterates who had joined earlier; especially from regional levels downwards to the grassroots. That compares to structures in CCM, which are manned by highly educated individuals, some trained everywhere from China, to Russia, to Czechoslovakia; even in Britain, Germany and the US.
That is to say UKAWA is entering the 2015 general elections from a point of disadvantage in terms of organizational leadership quality and structure—particularly at the grassroots. But people want change, and they have shown a desire to use whatever vessel is currently available to them to effect change they want.
The year 2015 is therefore an election year involving a political party with a corrupt highly educated political elite on one hand, and a structurally unprepared opposition coalition enjoying massive popular support.
The two organizational scenarios discussed above reveal several areas of possible conflict. The Asian community which wants to protect its business interests, most of it from ill-gotten wealth, will go to great lengths to be sure its candidate wins the race for the presidency. What does that mean?
During the primaries which have already kicked off in the ruling CCM party, committee members who will eventually decide who becomes CCM presidential candidate may be corrupted with Asian dirty money to be sure the Asian community stooge becomes candidate.
But the ruling party might nominate a different, relatively clean candidate. This will leave only one problem from the party–the motive for power. The public sees a dire crave for power among many CCM party members whose motive seems less than service to the greater good of the nation. The party’s corruption riddled past does suggest the crave for leadership is for personal gain; it is NOT for the greater public interest. So what does that mean?
Where the motive is personal gain rather than public interest, those in authority will defend their interests with blood. The ruling party has at its exposure the nation’s armed forces. That is to suggest that a danger exists the ruling party might use excessive force during the forthcoming general election. It has happened in the past in Zanzibar and during a bi-election in Arusha in northern Tanzania; it may happen again this year.
At the time of writing this commentary, the UKAWA coalition has not announced their presidential nominee, although Chairman of the Civic United Front (CUF), the economics lecturer Prof. Ibrahim Haruna Lipumba has announced he will be willing to run as presidential candidate if the coalition should give him the green light. But he has also said he will support any other person the coalition picks.
The popular belief in Tanzania is that the Secretary General of Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA), Dr. Wilbroad Slaa enjoys more support for presidential candidate than any other personality in the opposition coalition. The CHADEMA chairman, Mr. Freeman Aikaeli Mbowe and the Chairman of NCCR-Mageuzi , James Mbatia, do not enjoy as much popular support for presidential candidate as Dr. Slaa. At the time of writing this commentary, we do not know exactly who is coming from the coalition.
But generally, the opposition needs more time to strengthen its leadership structures. In fact it needs more time to prepare for running government. But the people want it ready now! So what does that mean?
That means the general election in Tanzania this year is a collision of two forces: there will be a ruling party wanting to force itself back in power through corruption and the armed forces on one hand, and the unarmed opposition struggling to get into power using only public sympathy with its pent-up anger and dissatisfaction with the performance of the ruling party. In this scenario, there is a party with guns on one side, and an angry public on the other side. A conflict is very possible here!
External forces can exploit this. Now although this suggestion may have come in late, something should be done to monitor and manage foreign inflows of funds entering the country for political purpose. But who should do the monitoring? The same Government formed by a corrupt political party? It is an ironical contradiction,of something unworkable. We have a problem. The world is full of experts on group psychology, and they have money with which they may buy guns and direct action. A prayer for peace might help, maybe–in your mosque, in your church, under the tree–anywhere.
For purposes of peace and tranquillity in our nation, this website makes the following conclusions:
One, corruption is a cancer which needs treatment; and because of this truth, whoever wants the presidency in Tanzania to protect ill-gotten wealth should be removed from the race. Two, the people are ready for change—they want change and might put in power whoever comes their way from the opposition, it seems —even as the opposition seems to still need time to grow. The ruling party should be prepared to respect the people’s decision in order to protect peace.
One important note is that in the CCM party, you still find one or two good people, and society knows this. These good people from a corrupt political party might get elected. Nothing wrong with that.
If it should happen that CCM fields a relatively good candidate and secures the presidency, considerations should be made to start slotting people from the opposition for training to run government in future—an exercise in succession planning. The opposition will run government at some point in time. The world would find us a very smart people starting to prepare these future leaders through incorporating people from the opposition in some form of mixed government.
Now, considering the fact that we already know there are weaknesses in the opposition, the existing government should be considering the possibility of a mixed government after the election to accommodate people from both the ruling party and the opposition as a way to training the opposition to run government and as a way of accommodating the people’s will to protect peace.
One last word to powers that be: Do not use guns in October, do not use clubs or tear gas on election day in October. Respect the people’s wish. Peace First, everything else second.
But the unexpected might happen. If the opposition should get the presidency, for purposes of peace, considerations of using some useful expertise from the past should be made.
The ruling CCM party may be a corrupt party, alright, but it does contain some good people in it. The opposition should consider using these good people from the corrupt party to access positive experience from the past. We cannot deny there are many good things this party has done in the past.
That is to say the opposition should also prepare itself to enter government with a posture of accommodation and forgiveness; to correct errors of the past—especially plucking out corruption—with a firm hand, but accommodating, to protect peace. We need to move this nation forward. We cannot move this nation forward in a civil war. Business does not thrive in strife. Business thrives in PEACE.