Dar catches poll fever: Ruling and opposition parties get ready to duel

Thursday August 13 2020

Opposition Chadema presidential candidate Tundu Lissu (left) will face President John Magufuli of ruling CCM in October 2020 elections. PHOTOS | AFP


Sometimes — not always but sometimes — it is good to have low standards. That way you can find any reason to congratulate yourself on winning.

As a patriot, I have always been proud of my country’s dedication to democracy. When doing so, there is no need to question the quality of said democracy because that is too much reality.

Tanzania is winning by virtue of the fact that we are on our 8th general election since we adopted… well, democracy and ultimately even multipartyism.

We are going to the polls again in late October. So far we have not had a change in presidents before their term limit is up.

This year the votership has been given a treat. The ruling party, which continues to be in the majority, opened up its doors to all members who felt that they wanted to try their luck getting elected into various positions.

There was just one catch: in order to run, there was some kind of requirement that candidates relinquish their previously held posts. An all-or nothing situation. This had the effect of levelling the playing field somewhat but also raising the stakes for people who might have relied on their positions and the advantages it gave them to win.


An unexpected outcome was also that everyone took this as an opportunity to try out politics. Some positions saw over 10, 20 or more candidates vying for them. And this is within the party itself!

As a voter I like everything about this situation. The more, the merrier — perhaps we may even get to improve the overall quality of our elected officials since the idea is that competition tends to favour the best of the best, if it is not rigged. On a personal note, it has been a pleasure to see a few individuals depart from their positions and not come back.

Perhaps best of all has been the triumphant return of Tundu Lissu from his exile abroad of nearly three years. The day he was attacked was the day something broke in our republic. We are far from being the haven of peace we advertise but there are parts of our social contract that demand we observe some basic decency. It was a shock that he recovered and is now braving a return home is inspiring: he has overcome. Uthubutu — daring — is not something to be taken lightly in a man riddled with bullet scars.

With his return, and with the opposition, in general, re-organising itself, this is not going to be a snoozer of an election. Half of me is elated that we are finally getting to the nitty-gritty of opening up our political system to real encounters and the other half is scared. We will not change presidents, this election is really about capturing the parliament or at least breaking the hold of the ruling party.

It is time to pop some corn and buy some newspapers — the election season is upon us and this one is going to be a seminal one.