Tanzania — Alliances Forming as Election Heats Up

  • The Party for Democracy and Development (Chadema) and senior leaders of the ACT Wazalendo Party started internal meetings in different areas.
  • The two opposition parties been in the process of looking at how they can work together to field a single presidential candidate.
  • The Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) has already started the sessions of the District Political Committees since August.

The temperature of the general election has risen sharply in Tanzania, with major political parties closing in on candidates for various positions, including the presidency and the legislature. Starting yesterday, the leaders of two opposition parties started internal meetings.

The Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM)— “Party of the Revolution”— is the dominant ruling party in Tanzania and the second longest-ruling party in Africa, only after National Party of South Africa. It was formed in 1977, following the merger of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) and the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP), which were the sole operating parties in mainland Tanzania and the semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar respectively.

The Party for Democracy and Development (Chadema) and senior leaders of the ACT Wazalendo Party started internal meetings in different areas for the Central Committee, then the Central Council, and finally the general assembly which together is expected to be completed tomorrow.

These sessions will then approve the names of the candidates for those key positions. On the Chadema side, they have been holding sessions at Mlimani City Hall, Dar es Salaam, while ACT Wazalendo is at the Lamada Hall, where among the main agenda is to approve the names of presidential and parliamentary candidates.

As the parties continue to prepare for the presidential, parliamentary, and councilor elections in October this year, they have also been in the process of looking at how they can work together to field a single presidential candidate.

The coalition hopes to replace the People’s Constitutional Alliance (UKAWA) which brought together the Chadema, CUF, NCCR Mageuzi, and NLD parties, which together agreed to join hands during the 2015 general elections.

The Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) has already started the sessions of the District Political Committees since August, and tomorrow it is the turn of the Regional Political Committees to continue with the sessions to review the qualifications of all parliamentary candidates.

After the sessions, the information of all the candidates will be sent to Dodoma headquarters for a final nomination decision.

Speaking on the role of parties to work together, Deputy Chairperson Ideology, Publicity and Public Relations of ACT Wasalendo, Janeth Rithe said yesterday her party is ready to work with parties with similar goals to ensure they win the next general election.

She said while the internal meetings of the Central Committee, the Central Committee and the General Assembly of the party continue from yesterday and is scheduled to be concluded on August 5. She said it was clear at the moment the issue of co-operation between the opposition parties against CCM was important, her party took it in a unique way.

“On the issue of cooperation between the parties in the next general election, we recognize and respect the importance of cooperation between the parties in all positions. As we speak there is a dialogue involving leaders and experts of the parties that are ongoing. We see cooperation as a very important issue, we think it is good to involve all parties with goals like ours in the opposition.”

As negotiations continue, each party continues to field its candidates for various presidential, parliamentary, and councilorship positions.

“Once an agreement has been reached with our negotiating teams we will sit down and look at what areas of separation. We believe the context of cooperation will focus on the interests of the country and not the interests of individuals or individual parties,” he said.

He said ACT Patriots hoped the issue would be resolved as to how they would work with the number of parties to work together to field a single presidential candidate and look at how to divide the constituencies according to the areas in which those parties have power.

He said he believes the ongoing negotiating team and its work will have a positive response early when the parties, as they go to finalize their procedures for ongoing meetings and appointments that are expected to end this week.

Chadema Position

Chadema is a center-right political party in Tanzania. It campaigns largely on an anti-corruption platform. The name is short for Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo, Swahili for Party for Democracy and Progress.

While ACT Wazalendo expressed its readiness, Chadema which yesterday began its Central Committee sessions for screening candidates followed by sessions of the Central Committee and the General Assembly expressed its readiness in terms of cooperation with other parties.

At a meeting on June 3, this year, General Secretary John Manyika said his party had opened the door to dialogue with other political parties, especially those with a genuine commitment to remove CCM from power. He said he saw no sign of the 2015 partnership under UKAWA continuing, and they still did not know which parties and how many would be willing to cooperate.

UKAWA’s difficulty in surviving this year stems from the direction of the two parties involved in forming the coalition, namely the NCCR Mageuzi and the CUF, which seem to be setting themselves apart.

In recent days, NCCR-Mageuzi has been recruiting MPs from Chadema, with its chairman, James Mbatia repeatedly quoted as saying that UKAWA’s unity was not good for his party. Chadema MPs who moved to NCCR Mageuzi are Anthony Komu (Moshi Rural), Joseph Selasini (Rombo), and two MPs for special seats, Susan Maselle and Joyce Sokombi.

As for the CUF party, which is 2015 participated in UKAWA, it became embroiled in internal strife and led to the party’s former secretary-general, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad, and his supporters moving to ACT Wazalendo. The crisis was sparked by its former chairman, Professor Ibrahim Lipumba, who resigned shortly before the election and then returned after the election, sparking a crisis within his party, which has hampered his party’s alliance with Chadema.

The current coalition is supported by Chadema, ACT Wazalendo, CHAUMA, and other non-parliamentary parties that have expressed interest in joining the coalition. There has recently been co-operation between 15 political parties in the country through its top leaders, who have repeatedly met and made joint statements on a number of issues, including the drafting and opposition to a bill to change the law on political parties submitted to parliament and passed during a meeting.

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George Mtimba

George clarifies how the news is changing the world, how world news trends affect you. Also, George is a professional journalist, a freelance news reporter and writer who is passionate with current world news.

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