Tanzania opposition to field joint presidential candidate

Saturday May 02 2015

Chadema supporters campaign for their candidate Wilbroad Slaa in 2010, when he ran for presidency. PHOTO | FILE

Tanzania’s opposition coalition has reached an agreement to field a joint presidential candidate and joint candidates for MPs in all constituencies.

Freeman Mbowe, co-chair of the Coalition of Defenders of the People’s Constitution (Ukawa) and Chadema chairman, Ibrahim Lipumba, chairman of Civic United Front (CUF), James Mbatia, chairman of NCCR-Mageuzi and Emmanuel Makaidi, chairman of the National League for Democracy (NLD), reached the agreement after a series of meetings.

Under the landmark agreement, the mainland’s main opposition party Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) will field parliamentary contenders in 150 out of 239 constituencies on both the mainland and Zanzibar, NCCR-Mageuzi will go for eight constituencies while CUF will take four.

The agreement paves the way for Chadema’s secretary-general Wilbroad Slaa to become the coalition’s presidential flagbearer. All polls have shown him to be the most popular opposition leader since he ran for presidency on a Chadema ticket in 2010.

Prof Lipumba, a three-time presidential candidate, will contest for a parliamentary seat at either Kinondoni or Temeke constituencies in Dar es Salaam, and would be considered for the minister for finance position after the election. Mr Mbatia will contest for parliament in Vunjo constituency in Kilimanjaro region, according to sources. Dr Makaidi’s party has only been given one constituency.

Whether the coalition remains united and eventually unseats CCM remains to be seen. Going by past elections, the newfound opposition unity will only have a chance if the popularity of CCM wanes significantly.


In 2010, CCM’s Jakaya Kikwete garnered 5,276,827 votes or 62.83 per cent of the total votes cast; Chadema’s Dr Slaa got 2,271,491 votes or 27.05 per cent; and CUF’s Lipumba was ranked third with 695,667, equivalent to 8.28 per cent of the votes.

Ukawa, a loose political alliance, came into being out of the dissatisfaction among the political parties with how the constitution-making process was hijacked by the ruling CCM.

The coalition is accusing the electoral commission and CCM of conspiring to postpone the General Election slated for October on grounds of poor preparations in order to extend President Jakaya Kikwete’s term in office.

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After a two-day summit to discuss the preparations for the forthcoming elections, Ukawa warned that the postponement of the constitutional referendum without amending the Referendum Act 2013 would be unconstitutional.

Prof Lipumba said that such an amendment was necessary since the law stipulated the exact date such a vote would be held.

He added that the National Electoral Commission (NEC) had not started preparations six months ahead of the elections, saying it was an indication that some quarters within CCM were pushing for Kikwete’s extension of tenure in office.

“Activities related to the preparations of an election begin at least a year before it is held, but until now the commission is yet to buy equipment and set aside money for the exercise,” said Prof Lipumba.

Additional reporting by Christopher Kidanka