Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Tanzania Elections a Shame

Though Tanzania has always been regarded as a strong and peaceful country in the region, this no longer holds water thanks to what transpired in the just ended elections. Marred by violence, allegations of bribery, and other irregularities, the elections left the country paralyzed and tarnished.

The presidential candidate who secured the second position, Dr. Wilbrod Slaa of Chama cha Demokrasia na Maedeleo (CHADEMA), has nary conceded defeat claiming that the rigging was done by the National Intelligence Service. The elections were not free and fair by all standards. How could it be with the turn out of just 8,398,394 equivalent to 42.8% of the 20,137,303 registered voters?

Kikwete scooped 5,276,827 votes equivalent to 61.17% as opposed to the landslide of over 80% he enjoyed when he first came to power in 2005. Dr. Slaa came second with 2,271,941 votes equivalent to 26.34% whilst the third Pro-CCM contender Professor Ibrahim Lipumba of Civic United Front (CUF) did away with 695,667 equivalent to eight percent. Other four contenders from small parties shared the rest.

The low turnout was reportedly a plot by the NEC whereby many young voters did not find their names at polling stations. Much affected areas involved opposition strongholds in big cities. Apart from that, there were delays and logistical handicaps almost everywhere.

Sensing the danger after Dr Slaa asked Pro-CCM National Electoral Commission (NEC) to stop announcing doctored results, Mr. Kikwete was hurriedly sworn in a day after NEC declared him a winner with a slim winning margin though.

The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), despite all massive rigging saw over 50 of its MPs lose including five ministers, prominent being that of Home Affairs Lawrence Masha, a friend and partner of Kikwete's son.

Violence was reported in various places whereby people were injured and houses set on fire. During and after the campaigns, five people were attacked by machetes in Mara and many more in Busanda. Over ten houses were set on fire in Shinyanga not to mention chaos in Mwanza, Mbeya, Kagera, Morogoro, Kigoma and Dar es salaam where Field Force Unit (FFU) used tear gas to curb demonstrators.

Tanzania used to broker peace for other countries in the region such as Kenya and Zimbabwe, bringing about Governments of National Unity (GNU). Recently the same thing was reached in Zanzibar, not under the efforts of Kikwete, but the fear of The Hague.

In the just ended dirty campaigns, religion, nepotism and tribalism took a fore stand. Dr. Slaa was accused of being a Christian who was sent by Vatican despite quitting from the cloak many years ago. Muslims campaigned openly for Kikwete a Muslim. Another undemocratic anathema was the use of paid-up tabloids to unleash abuses and fabrications against Kikwete's arch foe namely Dr Slaa. The police force too was used to intimidate people.

Kikwete’s government has been accused of many wrong doings including mega scandals such as robbing over $ 100, 000, 000 from Central Bank under the External Payment Arrears (EPA) account whose money went to the campaigns of Mr Kikwete. Another shocking scandal that saw former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa booted out is Richmond. In this scandal, billions of schillings were stolen under the pretext of providing emergency power utility that never was.

In a nutshell, CCM is slowly and gravely losing its wand that saw it rule the country since independence. Tanzanians are vehemently agitating for changes after being tired of status quo. Like Kenyans, they badly want a new constitution. One eminent question still remains unanswered: Is Tanzania, yet again, going to dogs?

Source: The African Executive Magazine Nov. 10, 2010

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