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‘Facebook president’, member of three parties, epic rice donor

HAVE you ever heard of a probable “Facebook president”? If so, get set for a refresher.

If not, welcome to Tanzania’s micro-world within the broader world of what may light-heartedly be characterised as poli-comedy (a mixture of politics and comedy), ahead of the General Election scheduled for October 28.

When, in reaction to a Facebook posting (in Kiswahili) by someone who confidently declared that the next Ikulu tenant would be a certain opposition party candidate, someone else’s cynical reaction was along these lines: “Congratulations in advance, my friend.

Your favourite candidate will surely become the next president, but of Facebook; not of the United Republic of Tanzania!” He was cynically trashing the idiotic assumption that, the staggering number of “Yes” votes for Candidate so-and-so “cast” in non-existent Facebook ballot boxes, would translate into actual votes.

For this would imply that the ones that would be cast by legally registered voters onto official ballot boxes on October 28, would be meaningless - a comic show! On the so-called nuisance value basis, though, jokes cheer up some wananchi during the campaign season, as they do amongst soccer enthusiasts ahead of Simba-Yanga soccer matches.

But in an official presidential election as opposed to a comic show, who, between “Baba Lao” and “Ni Yeye”, for instance, could emerge triumphant, would be determined solely by the arithmetical dynamics of the secret balloting system, and not the total-sure chest-thumping proclamations of Facebook jokers!

Well-meaning jokes are relatively tolerable, though, but not so the sickening, insult-loaded comments which are in the category best captured by the Kiswahili expression “matusi ya nguoni”. Many people attend the campaign rallies of more than one party to hear and assess highlights of their manifestos, as a guide for deciding which is worth investing their votes in.

It is scenario in which, our friend Mpiga Kura may abandon his party due to losing direction, and transfer support to another, which manifests seriousness in crafting a more prosperous Tanzania. Plus, there’s an allowance for “Mwananchi Huyu” to side with “Chama Hiki” at parliamentary constituency level, but vote for “Chama Kile” at the presidential one.

Computer manipulations are disgusting, an example being a social media site posting featuring a group of young men at an opposition party rally wearing reddish T-shirts, at the back of which is emblazoned the name “Jeshi la Akiba”.

It was deceptively projected as a clandestine CCM government stand-by militia outfit, assigned to wreck havoc at rallies of ruling party opponents! Obsession with crowd sizes, some of which are ballooned through the earlier cited manipulations, is sickening.

So are outright lies, such as claiming that CCM has been trooping children, including pupils to its rallies in order to boost numbers, as though it is starved of adult attendees! The lies are frozen by the fact that, being below voting age, the youngsters can’t influence CCM victories, and wouldn’t conceivably brief adult relatives back home, on speeches delivered at the rallies!

Juvenile curiosity is the farthest a sane person can go in associating the presence of some children at rallies! Sickening, too, is that political rivalry should quash humane feelings.

An example are comments to the effect that artistes who survived a road accident during a trip after performing at a CCM campaign rally should have preferably died, as God’s punishment for supporting a presumed devil-inspired party!

There is, within political competition, though, room for jokes, light-hearted sentiments and even drama. “Mzee Mapesa” evolved, spread and was popularised within the opposition camp a couple of years ago, as a nickname for Mr John Momose Cheyo, the National Chairman of the United Democratic Party (UDP).

It stemmed from the declaration that, were it to be the governing party, lots of money would be stuffed into the pockets of wananchi. Mzee Cheyo was being figurative – that his government would create an environment for making wananchi financially stable.

He didn’t imply that some centres would be established, at which they would queue to collect large sums of money for financing basic expenses. Mzee Cheyo meant that his government would craft a system under which the economy would be robust enough to enable them lead happy lives.

Policy-wise, Chama Cha Ukombozi wa Umma (Chauma), which is led by Mr Hashim Rungwe, is anchored on a noble mission – to liberate Tanzanian masses. Curiously, though, “Mzee wa Ubwabwa” sprang up during the current polls preparatory season, as a nickname for the senior citizen.

The amiable, bespectacled, consistently smartly dressed “babu”, lately shot to prominence, on account of his much-publicised, considerably controversial agenda of eagerness to treat people to sumptuous rice-based meals!

Back to Facebook, a photograph of a broadly smiling young woman relaxing on a verandah of her house delighted me tremendously. She was wearing a headscarf, a T-shirt, and a “kitenge” wrapper featuring Chadema, ACT-Wazalendo, and CCM colours, in that order.

I mused internally: “Here’s someone who, dress-wise, projects the spirit of Tanzanian-hood that transcends party inclinations!” As to which candidate in which category she would cast her votes for, that is, if she so chooses, and assuming, anyway, that she is a registered voter, remains her well-kept secret!

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