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Tanzania Elections 2015: Ten Things You Need to Know

Tanzania Elections 2015: Ten Things You Need to Know
Info-graph:Tanzania Presidential Election 2015
October 20, 2015

After ten years at the helm, charasmatic leader Jakaya Kikwete will step aside from the presidency in Tanzania as citizens head to the polls on Sunday 25th October 2015. Will the CCM, now under the candidacy of Dr. John Pombe Mugufuli, maintain its dominence? Or will the opposition coalitition led by former prime minister Edward Lowassa take over the reins? Here are ten things you need to know ahead of the elections this weekend.

1) Tanzania Background
In 1964 Julius Nyere, founder of Tanganiykan African National Union (TANU) and the first president of Tanganiylka, reached an agreement with Abeid Karume, President of the offshore island of Zanzibar. The two countries have historically shared similarities enough to form the union of the two nations later to be known as the United Republic of Tanzania. From 1965 onwards, each part of the union had only one political party, but they are different parties - TANU in Tanganyika and ASP (Afro-Shirazi Party) in Zanzibar. In 1977, these two parties merged into the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) a.ka. (Revolutionary Party) which has remained the dominant party in post-independence Tanzania, winning all successive elections so far.

2) Tanzania overview
With a population of around 53 million, Tanzania shares borders with other East African neighbours Kenya and Uganda. The country had an estimated GDP of $127.1bn in 2014 with agriculture and tourism contributing the largest chunk. Yet, it is estimated that only 40% of adult Tanzanians earn less than $1.25 a day, while nine out 10 citizens earn less than $3 per day.

3) Previous Elections
Between 1964 and 1965, Tanzania remained under a defacto one party rule between the TANU and the ASP which had agreed earlier in 1964 to join forces and create one nation. In 1977 even though CCM was created, Tanzania had to wait till 1992 to transform to a multi-party system. Between 1992 and 1995, there was a transition period and in 1995 the first multi party democratic election was conducted. Benjamin Mkapa from the CCM party won the election and was re-elected in 2000. In 2005, the current president Jakaya Kikwete, also from the CCM party, won the election and was re-elected in 2010. Tanzania has witnessed relatively-peaceful elections and is seen as a stable county in a region known for conflict and civil war.

4) Electoral System
The Electoral System, which is in use in Tanzania, is the First – Past – the – Post. This means that, a candidate who wins majority of valid votes is declared a winner. Also there is a form of Proportional Representation System whereby Parliamentary Women Special Seats are allocated to Political Parties depending on the number of valid votes each Political Party has won in parliamentary election. Elections in Tanzania are administered by the National Electoral Commission, an independent body that is created under Article 74(1) of the Tanzania’s constitution. The commission is comprised of seven commissioners who are appointed by the President of the United Republic of Tanzania. The tenure of office for each member is five years with possibilities for renewal.

5) The 2010 Elections
The last election on 31st October 2010, which re-elected Kikwete for a second term, had seen 20,137,303 registered voters. There was a 42.8% voters’ turnout and President Kikwete won 62.83% of the votes cast, the next candidate with most votes was Willibrod Slaa from the Chadema party with 27.05%. CCM also had won 186 seats of the national assembly followed by Chadema's 23 seats.

6) Election 2015
With just less than a week left for Tanzania Election 2015 , the opposition and the ruling party are going head to head to the polls on Sunday, 25 October, 2015. The opposition, relatively young compared to the incumbent CCM party, has joined forces for the first time and created a coalition named Ukama. The coalition includes Chadema, NCCR-Mageuzi, National League for Democracy (NLD), and Civic United Front (CUF) and named Edward Lowassa as their presidential candidate. Lowassa was a former prime minister and among the former top leaders of the ruling CCM party before he crossed lines to join the opposition.

On the other hand, Dr. John Magufuli, who served as the Minister of Works since 2011 in his second term in the top (first was between 2000 and 2005), will the CCM's flag bearer in the elections. In his first speech after being named CCM's candidate, he said, "To all irresponsible leaders, thieves and corrupt officials, please be informed that I will deal with you in a very polite way." His stance on corruption has been commended by many, lighting hope that CCM will finally have a firm stance on corruption plaguing Tanzania. "Trust me; I am not going to let you down… trust me I will not fail you. I am only asking one thing from you. Make sure you turn out in large numbers and vote in favour of CCM," he said in a bid to assure Tanzanian people that he is the rightful leader.

The national electoral commission has vowed to conduct free elections with the help of a newly introduced biometric technology. However, the opposition has doubted the ability of the commission to conduct free elections and demanded the National Electoral Commission to implement new and improved measures to ensure the polls are free, fair, transparent, and credible.

7)Twists and Turns in Election 2015
The buildup to the 2015 election in Tanzania has seen twists and turns with leaders of political parties crossing lines to join the opposition coalition. Former prime minister Lowassa, who was once a prime minster until he was implicated in a parliamentary investigation over government contracts in 2008, joined the opposition party Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema). His decision came after the ruling CCM party opted not to include his name in a short list of presidential candidates to run for the 2015 elections.

At the same time, a deputy minister in Jakaya Kikwete's government, Makongoro Mahanga, quit the ruling party and followed Lowassa to Chadema, alleging he had been unfairly beaten in the party's primaries.

Then the chairman of the opposition party Civic United Front (CUF) Professor Ibrahim Lipumba, who was believed to be the one who facilitated the crossing of Lowassa, quit his chairmanship claiming "my conscience troubles me over decisions I have supported" alluding to the error committed by himself and his colleagues by "bringing into our fold CCM people who had opposed the constitutional draft."

The opposition coalition has now nominated the recently-joined Lowassa as their presidential candidate. "I have come to join you for a reason, to remove CCM from power,” Lowassa said after his nomination. "The CCM I saw in Dodoma is not the one that raised me. As a Tanzanian with love for the country, I say it is over. CCM is neither my father nor my mother." He went on to add, "Looking for change outside CCM and after so much soul searching, I am leaving CCM and responding to Ukawa's call that I join them".

8) What could be the defining points for this year's election
The defining point of this election seems to lie on parties' commitment to fight corruption and continue if not upgrade the economic progress that the country is enjoying recently. Between 2011 and 2014, Tanzania's economy grew at an average of 7% average and is expected to grow at a rate of 7.4% in 2015 continuing with a steady inflation rate of about 6%. However even if the recent growth is commendable, lack of good governance and corruption in the country has been widely viewed as a concern that need to be tackled by the party that comes on top after the elections.

It was argued that the key for CCM to won the 2015 elections is by present a candidate that is truly committed to fight corruption in the country. It seems CCM has taken this under consideration as it preferred Dr. John Magufuli as its candidate. President Kikwete has described Magufuli as "a no-nonsense man who would successfully move the country to the next stage."

However the crossing of politicians from a party to the other is overtaking any expectation one might have on the election. Lowassa, who was under investigation and also black listed by the opposition over corruption allegations ended up joining the same opposition to finally be nominated as their candidate. Lowassa's candidacy is thought to reinforce the opposition's chance of having a real go against the CCM. In addition the opposition creating a first ever coalition to name just one presidential candidate that will run against CCM is also thought to raise their chances at the polls.

9) Third termism a threat?
Neighbouring states of Tanzania; Burundi, Rwanda and DRC are all implicated with leaders either pursuing their third term or allegedly preparing to do so.

However, not respecting term limits has never been contentious in Tanzania and it seems like that trend is going to continue in 2015. Benjamin Mkapa won two elections and left office after Tanzania's transition to a multi-party system and democratic elections in 1995. The current president Kikwete is also not contemplating on a third term bid and the CCM has already nominated works minister Magufuli as a presidential candidate for the 2015 election.

10) Will the 2015 election be peaceful?
It seems that the current scenario does not breed any chances for post-election conflict in Tanzania. However, this will ultimately require parties to respect the results of the polls. With the opposition gaining momentum after the formation of the coalition, it seems like the election is going to be a close one. And if the opposition wins, accepting defeat for CCM might be a hard one to swallow given the fact that it has been in power since independence. CCM maybe a strong party with years of leadership experience that is expected to help it win the elections this weekend, but the force that the opposition is building and the crossing of Lowassa might prove to be a difficult challenge for the incumbant party.

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