Dar’s ‘small’ election, where chickens of the first term will come home to roost

Friday July 31 2020

A Tanzanian casts his ballot at a Buguruni polling station during the local elections in Dar es Salaam city on November 24, 2019. Tanzanians will head to the polls for the general election on October 28, 2020. FILE PHOTO | AFP


Ladies, gentlemen and comrades: It has begun. Who is ready for a Tanzanian election! You get a vote, we get a vote, everybody gets a vote!

I. Am. Pumped! The campaign season is finally open, and we the people are about to be courted by our elected representatives again. Dreams will be dreamt; hearts will be broken.
I tend to say that Tanzania has two kinds of elections: The big one where CCM changes its candidate in observation of its own constitution and that of the United Republic of Tanzania, and the little one where we punish the incumbent by giving them fewer votes than they got the first time while acknowledging that we are not going to change our president. Something about that decade mark seems to fit us right: Just enough time to do something, not enough time to do everything.

This is the little election, we’re not going to see a change in Ikulu. Don’t let this fool you though: The small election is when all the chickens of the first term come home to roost. While it is tempting to comment on the opposition and what threats it presents to the ruling party, far more interesting is what is happening in the ruling party itself. Grudges are already being serviced, a cleansing is taking place, a reckoning of sorts.

I am glad to see direct democracy return to The Grand Old Party (GOP) via the open counting of votes as they select candidates who will run for parliament.

By time you read this, the exercise will be over and the true courting of the votes will have begun. But while I have the chance, let me just say it again: CCM is the party of our Tanzanian DNA even when we belong heart and soul to other parties. This is not a matter of loyalty, it is a matter of structural nationalism.

While the opposition grows and learns to free itself of geographic and other identity constraints, CCM continues to be what it has always been: dedicatedly us.


And we can be gloriously mean. This article is written in unabashed glee at some reversals of fortune that have been a long time coming.

Like my fellow Tanzanians, I want a legislature that is vibrant, intelligent, people-oriented and most of all: brave. We have had a whole term to suffer the horrors of a sub-par collection of boot-lickers and now here we are. The GOP is doing what it does: adjust, adapt, survive.

Good. Our opposition is a little bit bored and needs a valid challenge to grow. We can’t beat Tanzanians into submission all the time: elections is when we talk to each other. When politicians earn their keep. When we examine ourselves. I. Am. Pumped.