Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), one of the longest-ruling parties in Africa, boasts of having more than 18,000,000 loyal members and who are most likely to vote for the parties’ candidate this week.
Former CCM publicity secretary Nape Nnauye said elections are about numbers and the party is confident of victory despite wounds of division within the party ranks.
Political pundits see growing resistance to the party’s popularity in recent years, especially when the opposition fields charismatic politicians to challenge the incumbent.
While Benjamin Mkapa won first multiparty election of 1995 by 61.82 per cent of the vote against propaganda guru NCCR-Mageuzi’s Augustine Mrema, in the 2000 poll he garnered 71.74 per cent against the less popular CUF’s Prof Ibrahim Lipumba.
The party reached a peak in 2005 when Jakaya Kikwete won with a landslide of 80.28 percent of the vote. He then faced-off with priest-turned-politician Dr Willibrod Slaa of Chadema and garnered 62.83 percent.
The incumbent Dr John Magufuli rose to the presidency in 2015 with 58 per cent of the votes, against Edward Lowassa, a former prime minister whom he beat in the CCM nominations leading to the latter's defection.
CCM has been ‘’exporting’’ contenders to the opposition since 1995 when the former Home Affairs minister Augustine Mrema contested on NCCR-Mageuzi ticket. In 2015, Mr Lowassa challenged CCM’s John Magufuli and this year and former Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe is running on an ACT-Wazalendo ticket.
Internal friction within the party is known to endanger the party’s supremacy, as it happened in 2015, when Mr Lowassa defected and CCM had the slimmest of victories.
Both Mr Lowassa and another former prime minister Frederick Sumaye, who fled to Chadema, have both been lured back to the ruling party.
President Magufuli is being challenged by Chadema’s Tundu Lissu, who survived an assassination attempt, which kept him in hospital for almost two years abroad.
He returned to the country this year from Belgium and was handed a presidential ticket by Chadema to challenge President Magufuli.