It’s not every day that hopes for reform and good government lie more with reelecting the dominant party that’s held power since 1977 than with opting for the opposition.
But increasingly, that seems to be the case in Tanzania, where the October 25 general election pits John Magufuli, the standard-bearer of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM, Party of the Revolution) against Edward Lowassa, one of the CCM’s former presidential hopefuls and a disgraced former prime minister. Lowassa is running as the candidate of the Ukawa opposition front that includes Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (popularly known simply as Chadema), a liberal opposition party formed in 1992, and Chama Cha Wananchi (CUF, Civic United Front), the Zanzibar-based opposition party.
Though Lowassa is the wilier politician, the CCM is still favored to hold onto power after Sunday’s elections. Since multi-party politics were introduced in 1992, the CCM has had little trouble maintaining its lock on the Tanzanian government. On the mainland, at least, the CCM (and before 1977, its predecessor, the Tanganyika African National Union) has been virtually interchangeable with government.
But Lowassa’s popularity as a former CCM official, the desire for change among the country’s powerful youth, and growing opposition strength in Zanzibar have made this year’s elections particularly unpredictable.
The current contest between Lowassa and Magufuli has its roots in the tussle earlier this year to determine the CCM’s successor. Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania’s fourth post-independence president, is term-limited and, while he’ll continue to lead the CCM until 2018, he will leave the presidency after a decade in office, generally maintaining Tanzania’s stable path to greater development. Continue reading Genuinely competitive election boosts Tanzanian democracy