Are 19 seats for women MPs proportional to the presidency?

Tuesday December 08 2020

The Tanzanian ruling class made us all go through what they told us was an election in which there was little electing although at the end of a voodoo exercise, we were given a list of names of people who had been ‘elected’. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


The Tanzanian political class must be the funniest bunch this side of the Ozone layer, only that people are not laughing because they do not understand what the jokes cracked by our politicos mean exactly.

Our rulers have been at it for quite some time, and the more they realise that people are not cracking their ribs laughing the harder they intensify their efforts at unearthing something else that might perchance tickle us just a little bit more.

For starters in the most recent episode, they made us all go through what they told us was an election in which there was little electing although at the end of a voodoo exercise, we were given a list of names of people who had been ‘elected’.

In numerous localities, candidates who had gone to the polling posts and cast their votes in the company of their families discovered that not only had their families not voted for them, a grievous and treacherous betrayal of filial bonds, but that they themselves had mysteriously forgotten how to vote for themselves.

A number of people who were involved in the exercise have alleged that they were given marked ballot papers to put in the boxes and to ignore all else. It is probably the air that they breathed that morning as they went to the polls that made them forget where they were supposed to place their tick.

The exercise closed without a riot, not because the people were universally happy but because we keep polite company generally, and people are not given to unreasonable outbursts that could put them in trouble, especially when there have been police statements to the effect that any raised a raised head will be clobbered, and when a few examples can attest to that.


To be fair, there has not been great laughter among those who won ‘resoundingly’, garnering all parliamentary seats except one; the self-congratulation among the ‘victors’ has been muted as some of them did not even understand how they had ‘won’.

But soon it was discovered that the joke had gone too far, that even what the current constitution — which is contested by many — prescribes would not be met, simply because the whole parliament has now only one colour, the green of absolute power when our parliament is supposed to be of a multiparty variety.

But our great political sages discovered that they could get out of the bind by resorting to a simple subterfuge involving a warped version of ‘proportional representation.

The opposition candidate for the presidency had been declared to have polled more than a million votes, which gave him more than the 5 percent needed for a party to have a certain percentage of female members of parliament.

Ergo, the opposition can have women in parliament even though it has no constituency MPs! Another Abracadabra moment for you.

Surely, you would think, ‘proportional representation’ would speak to the proportion of seats won from the constituencies, and not the presidential votes, since there is no ‘proportional presidency’?

No, said our sagacious luminaries, that is nonsense, we’ll calculate the presidential vote, and that is final. On that basis, 19 women have been chosen to be members of parliament, except for the small matter that the concerned party, which has refused to accept the mysterious results of the exercise called an election, refused to send names.

All the same names got sent, and the Speaker of the August House received them, although the concerned party insists it did not send them.

Now the Speaker has become strident in his declarations. He has just acquired himself 19 brand-new female members from an opposition party that does not recognise them, and the Speaker says whoever wants to thwart the determination of these ladies to do legislative and representational work in Parliament will not be tolerated.

The Speaker, one Job Ndugai of CCM, has suddenly become the vociferous defender of the right of the opposition to be well represented in Parliament. If you are not laughing it must be because you have a rather exaggerated old-school sense of humour.

Now that the women have been expelled from their party despite the hefty defence and protection they have received from the Speaker, which party are they going to be representing for the coming good five years? Do I hear someone say, good question?

One of the jokes that we have lived with without laughing too loudly is that the wise men in CCM have, for the last almost 30 years in which we have practised some tomfoolery called multiparty politics, refuse to allow for independent candidates, which would have done this job for them.

Now they have to fabricate 19 ‘independent MPs out of names that have not been sent by their party. No wonder they are referred to as Covid-19 on some platforms.

And when you talk of Covid-19 here you are talking about some rumoured disease that we vanquished through prayer and fasting.

Ulimwengu is now on YouTube via jeneralionline tv. E-mail: [email protected]