Voters wait to see joint opposition flagbearer

Saturday June 27 2015

By APOLINARY TAIRO

Now that the opposition has signed a memorandum of understanding to field a joint presidential candidate in the October general election, Tanzanians are waiting to know the person who will face the Chama cha Mapinduzi candidate.

But even as the opposition candidate is expected to be named in August, probably under the Coalition of Defenders of the People’s Constitution (Ukawa), a rift has emerged between the four Ukawa parties.

Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema), Civic United Front (CUF), National Co-ordination for Constitutional Reform (NCCR-Mageuzi) and National League for Democracy (NLD) agreed to jointly vie for seats at all levels — from the councillor (ward) to parliamentary and presidency levels.

However, a week ago, Tanzania’s number two opposition party CUF nominated its national chairman, Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, as its presidential candidate under Ukawa.

For the fourth time

Prof Lipumba, 63, will be vying for the seat for the fourth time should he clinch the ticket. The leading economist and former university don has contested every presidential election since the introduction of multiparty politics in Tanzania.

As a CUF candidate in the first multiparty election in 1995, he was third with 6.43 per cent of the vote against former president Benjamin Mkapa in the toughest election ever. The scholar got 16.26 per cent when he faced off with Mr Mkapa again in 2000.

Against Jakaya Kikwete, Prof Lipumba garbered 11.68 per cent of the vote in 2005 and 8.3 per cent in 2010, when he came third.

Also expected to go for the opposition ticket is Chadema secretary-general Dr Wilbrod Slaa. The former Catholic priest entered the big race for the first time in 2010, when, with 26.3 per cent of the vote, he was second to President Kikwete, who had 61.17 per cent.

The other Ukawa hopeful is Dr Emmaunel Makaidi, the little-known NLD national chairman whose party does not have an MP. Dr Makaidi got a meagre 0.19 per cent of the vote in seventh place in his first shot at the top seat in 2005 against President Kikwete.