By Elias Mhegera (The Express – Tanzania) – LEADERS of opposition parties in Tanzania have admitted that time is not yet ripe to form an alliance due to a number of pertinent issues yet to be resolved.
The chief campaigner and strategist for the Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) candidate Prof Mwesiga Baregu said there were many reasons as to why even this time around they cannot unite.
“There were two alternatives, forming an alliance like the Kenyans did with the NARC, or rallying behind a strong candidate with a wide following. “We have rallied behind Seif Shariff the Civic United Front candidate in Zanzibar, we were expecting the CUF to do the same in Tanzania Mainland, but they did not,” said Baregu.
A renowned professor in political science and senior lecturer at St Augustine University, Prof. Baregu said there is a problem on how the opposition visualizes the election process, since others see it just as an opportunity to make themselves known rather than pose a serious challenge to the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).
But asked to respond to Prof Baregu’s claim the CUF top official and personal assistant to the secretary general and Zanzibar presidential aspirant, Ismail Jussa, said that Baregu has missed the point.
CHADEMA has no following in Zanzibar and so there was no need for them to field a presidential aspirant in the Isles. “Who told you that this party has members in Zanzibar, do you buy that story?” asked Jussa in astonishment.
But while the situation resembles a quagmire for the opposition parties, the CCM Vice-Chairman Pius Msekwa said it is imminent that his party will emerge victorious just like it has been doing in the previous elections.
Msekwa was responding to claims from many political corners that his party has been shaken up by the big following of the opposition CHADEMA in recent days.
“We have statistics to indicate that our party is still the most favourable to the citizenry, last year’s local government elections, and even the by-elections prior to general elections all indicated that our party is dear to the citizenry,” Msekwa said.
He revisited the history of the 1995 General Election where Augustine Mrema the then National Convention for Construction and Reform (NCCR-Mageuzi) appeared to pose a major challenge but eventually it was the CCM that won.
“You should support your claim with statistics, which is how our party operates, we won in that year, we won in 2005 and we will still win this year,” said the CCM stalwart.
Msekwa said with more than five million members in hand there is no party which can outvote the CCM under the current circumstances.
But while Msekwa was confident the Democratic Party presidential aspirant Rev. Christopher Mtikila said it was true that the opposition cannot win when there is a state of anarchy in this country.
“We are in political shambles, the Constitution is outdated, it cannot suffice today’s demands, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) is pro CCM. There are no legal and political instruments to guarantee free and fair elections,” said Mtikila.
The fiery cleric said there is no way he can form alliance with CHADEMA or the CUF on grounds that their leaders are too arrogant to be tolerated.
Mtikila charged that in 2004, opposition parties had formulated strategies that would press for the formation of an independent electoral commission and a workable Constitution but the two parties CHADEMA and CUF betrayed this course.
“Moreover we cannot work with a party which stands for Zanzibar’s interest than those of the Union, my party’s philosophy is well known we are pro Tanganyika government while the CUF is for the Isles, we will never converge with such stances,” charged Mtikila.
The NCCR secretary-general Sam Ruhuza admitted that there are many grounds which make it difficult for the opposition to unite.
For instance Ruhuza claimed that the CHADEMA does not have a political base in Ngara where he is contesting but funnily enough this party sent a person from Dar es Salaam to run for the constituency.
“Luckily enough I have managed to attract considerable following from the CUF members but I have to admit that the CHADEMA has let me down,” said Ruhuza who was optimistic that he will snatch the Ngara Constituency parliamentary seat.
Ruhuza claimed that it was due to the ‘arrogance’ of the CHADEMA and the CUF that his party allowed their member Hashim Rungwe to vie for the presidency. He said that was his democratic right as no other member was interested in the presidency.
On his part the African Progressive Party of Tanzania–Maendeleo (APPT–Maendeleo) chairman Peter Mziray said it was not proper to think of uniting parties at this juncture as people need a variety of policies in order to vote for their candidates. “I can foretell that it was for the best interest that I ran for the presidency. Come 2015, Lipumba and Slaa will not make any impact for the presidency due to their age,” said Mziray.
Mziray criticized the media in Tanzania for its heavy coverage on Dr Willibrod Slaa (CHADEMA), Jakaya Kikwete (CCM), and Prof Ibrahim Lipumba (CUF), he said by neglecting other presidential aspirants the media was denying Tanzanians an opportunity to hear alternative policies.
“The media people are denying voters a choice of alternative policies as they are biased towards the three candidates only, this is unfair,” charged Mziray. Arnold Mbuya a businessman and resident of Karakata said voters have already showed signs of giving up as they do not see any serious challenge from the opposition.
“You can not compare this year’s election to that of 1995, because during that election people were full of hope, civil servants contested against CCM, but not this year, where many people who sympathize with the opposition are grossly mistreated by the government of the day,” stated Mbuya.
He said there was a need to get to know the exact sources of finances for the CCM campaigns as there was the sad experience of how it had abused power and used the Bank of Tanzania accounts illegally in the last general elections in 2005.