As opinion polls (including the Kumekucha one) show that opposition candidate will win presidency from Kikwete
On Sunday Kenya’s next door neighbours, Tanzania go to the polls. The reality on the ground is that the Tanzanians have been watching with great interest and then envy as Kenya has gone through a very eventful two years or so. Tanzanians are now asking why ordinary folks in their country cannot be like Kenyans who to them appear to be very much aware of their rights and willing to fight for them.
I was shocked beyond words recently when I overheard ordinary Tanzanians in a Dar-es-salaam surburb discussing Sunday’s polls and saying that it would be a good idea to stock up in food and stay indoors, expecting the worst. The reason for my surprise is that despite the reports of election violence that always emerge from Zanzibar during almost every general election, election violence is hardly the style of Tanzanians, more so on the mainland.
To most Kenyans (like the guys who never miss an opportunity to spew tribal hatred in this blog) it would be mighty difficult to understand Tanzanian politics. Tribalism hardly exists in this country that is almost the size of both Kenya and Uganda put together and boasts of over 140 tribes (to Kenya’s 40 something). Neither is there a history of certain tribes reigning supreme over others. The one man who must take the most credit for this unity that is rare to find in any African country is the founding father the late Mwalimu Julius Kabarage Nyerere. While Kenya’s Tom Mboya and Jomo Kenyatta prided themselves in national symbols based on strong animals like the lion, Nyerere quietly chose the unassuming Giraffe. And there is plenty of proof in the man’s life that he was able to see extremely far into the horizon so much so that he still holds great sway even from the grave. Nyerere unified the country by aggressively adopting the Swahili language into the fabric and way of life of Tanzanians. Whilst it is true that Tanzanians are now busy going to extreme lengths to undo this by ensuring that their children grow up learning English from an early age and ignoring Kiswahili altogether, they have Nyerere to thank for the fact that despite the unprecedented high tensions that are being witnessed in the country’s politics, what happened in Kenya in early 2008 can never happen in Tanzania. Whatever Kikwete or CCM decide to do on Sunday.
Incidentally what I admire most about Nyerere is that fact that while Jomo Kenyatta was busy grabbing every available fertile piece of land he could lay his hands on and enriching himself, Nyerere was focused on serving his people. So much so that by the time his retirement came round, his people were so embarrassed about his rural shack that they opted to hurriedly build him a house. Even today the Nyerere family are ordinary folks feeling the current strain of the economy in the country. Wow!! Can you imagine Uhuru Kenyatta broke? Or Mama Ngina Kenyatta applying for a bank loan to pay school fees for some of her grand children? Or Kenyans being ashamed of any politician’s rural home so much so that they opt to build them a house?
Nyerere is long dead but he still looms large in many aspects of Tanzanian life and to understand the country’s politics one cannot avoid studying the man in great detail. For instance crime levels are still spectacularly low in Tanzania, more so violent crime. One of the reasons is the system of Majumba kumi (ten households) established by Nyerere. Covering the vast country of 40 million people it ensures that hardly anything happens without the knowledge of authorities. There is a leader appointed over every ten households who reports to authorities any developments in their area of jurisdiction including the arrival of strangers and would-be criminals. This makes it extremely difficult to plan for any serious violent crime without attracting attention. Buying arms and amassing arrows like happened in the Rift Valley prior to the ill-fated 2007 elections would be impossible.
But now despite this kind of past, the general elections on Sunday looms large for the Giraffe nation. The ruling CCM (Chama cha mapinduzi) is faced with the fight of its’ life. More so its’ presidential candidate Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete. Traditionally the main opposition party in Tanzania has been CUF, a party that has huge following in Zanzibar and amongst Muslims in Tanzania. However seemingly out of nowhere a man called Dr Willibrod Slaa a charismatic orator who bases answers to almost all questions asked on the ordinary Tanzanian reeling under considerable financial strain currently. Political analysts predict a close race. I have been on a tour of Tanzania recently and I can authoritatively report that Chadema’s Slaa has enough legs to win the presidential race by a respectable margin. As to who will be announced winner (which is what matters here) all I can say is that this is Africa.
But despite whatever credentials Slaa my have, the truth is that he is just a man who found himself at the right place at the right time. Tanzanians are aching for the change that they have seen coming to their next door neighbours Kenya and it is only natural that not many see that change coming from the ruling party CCM’s presidential candidate Jakaya Kikwete. More so after the devastating effect on their daily lives that his rule has had. Not to mention the broken promises to a much more aware and restless electorate.
I am taking steps to caution all my Kenyan friends residing in Tanzania to be careful and alert on Sunday because anything can happen. Mercifully whatever it is that may happen can never come close to the bloodbath we saw in Kenya in 2008.
New opinion poll shows that opposition candidate will win Tanzanian presidency
Main opposition party claims that rigging is being planned through ghost voters
Where some of Kiwkete’s popularity problems started
Kikwete love triangle that earned sexy Congolese musician life sentence (read the second comment on the page that opens from the link)
Views of the Tanzanian business community on the impact of the looming general elections
How the first few months of Kikwete caused jitters amongst foreigners living in Tanzania
Election results in Tanzania since independence