YESTERDAY, Wednesday 28th October, 2020; was general election day in Tanzania.
It was our “day of reckoning”, the day when our specified mission was accomplished; and our specified objective was duly achieved. I personally went quite early to cast my vote at Shule ya Msingi Oysterbay “B” polling station in Kinondoni District, Dar es Salaam, where I was registered as a voter.
And I have good reason to believe that, when the scheduled time arrived for closing the polling stations at the end of that exercise, the relevant stakeholders (particularly the election managers and the thousands of election administrators who were manning the numerous polling stations throughout our vast country), must have breathed a great sigh of relief, as they packed up their election equipment in order to go and hand over their completed assignments to their respective Returning Officers.
And, I presume, it must have been the same for the very many people who actively participated directly in this process, either as aspiring candidates for the various elective positions and their supporters, or as campaign personnel who travelled around with the aspiring candidates; spending every day of the last two months literary on their feet, busy asking for votes from all and sundry.
They too, must have heaved deeply at the thought that it was now over at last, all done and completed. Mission accomplished, and objective achieved That was the big ‘mission’ which we have just successfully accomplished; namely the 2020 general election exercise.
The word “election” generally means ‘the process of choosing a person, or group of persons, to fill any vacant position, or positions’.
But in the context of this article it means one thing only, which is that mammoth countrywide exercise of choosing the political leaders in the Government and the Representatives of the people in Parliament, as well as in the Local Authority Councils; who will guide the affairs of our nation for the coming five years.
That is precisely the “mission” that was accomplished yesterday. And the “objective” which was achieved, is the selection that was made in the course of that voting activity, of the leaders who will man the various Institutions of the Government, and of the Parliament, plus the Local Authorities, for the coming five years.
Elections have consequences In last week’s article, we referred to certain mild warnings about the possibility of voters ‘making mistakes’ in elections; and to the attendant adverse consequences of making such mistakes. We referred specifically to the specific ‘mistake’ of the voters ‘electing what is known as a “hung Parliament”; that is to say, a Parliament in which the President’s political party (in our case CCM), does not have a majority of the MPs.
However, we wish to clarify that in reality, we were actually citing only a remote and purely theoretical example. For I am pretty sure that in our case, such ‘mistake’ WILL NOT happen at all as a result of yesterday’s voting exercise.
It simply cannot happen because, even by just considering the unprecedented huge crowds of people who attended President Magufuli’s campaign rallies everywhere he went across the Regions and Districts of Tanzania; and also by looking at the media reports that were being circulated in the course of yesterday from diverse sources in different parts of the country, regarding the massive turn out of the people at practically every polling station throughout the country, and all of them displaying vivid enthusiasm, eagerness, and determination to cast their votes quickly and call it a day; even on that evidence alone, one can reasonably predict that the voters will have made no such ‘mistake’; and that instead, they must have decided to give a resounding victory to President John Magufuli , together with his ruling party (CCM).
In other words, the results will clearly show that the people have not only spoken, but have spoken very clearly and loudly. Thus, there is no doubt whatsoever, that President John Pombe Magufuli will, on the appointed day, have the pleasure of opening the 12th Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania which has a ‘super-comfortable’ majority of more than twothirds of the MPS being members of Chama cha Mapinduzi.
We should therefore just relax, and wait for the promised “land of milk and honey” which, according to President Magufuli’s own campaign promises, will be the product of his second- term of his already demonstrated extraordinary ‘miracle’ Administration.
We are back to our usual routine And now, with the election process safely out of the way, that allows Tanzanians to go back , each one of us, to his or her normal routine, whatever it may be; and just wait for the announcement of the election results by the National Electoral Commission.
But as for me, ha -ha - ha: I am just happily waiting to join in the inevitable carnival-style CCM victory celebrations which will follow the announcement of the results; as well as my inevitable invitation, as former CCM national Vice Chairman as well as former National Assembly Speaker, to attend the official inauguration of President John Pombe Magufuli for his richly deserved second and final term in office. Mungu ibariki Tanzania.
This confidence in the results is based on the very powerful and persuasive campaign that was so vigorously conducted by President Magufuli in his capacity as Chairman of Chama cha Mapinduzi under the attractive slogan of “chagua mafiga matatu” ; plus the huge ‘ value added’ advantage of his ‘miracle’ performance in managing the affairs of the nation, during his just-ended first term in office .
These must surely have given CCM a ‘tempest style’ election victory. (Ushindi wa kishindo). In my accumulated experience, this was not a normal “general election”. It was, in reality, more of a “referendum” on President Magufuli’s excellent performance during his first term in office.
The end of this series captioned ‘Towards the General Election’. In my article of 13th August, 2020, (in which I paid special tribute to the late former President Benjamin Mkapa of the thirdphase Government of the United Republic), I also disclosed that it was this late former President Mkapa, who had asked me, when we last met in Dodoma on 12th July, 2020, to write this special series of articles; which, he suggested, should be specially designed “for the purpose of raising public awareness on the different aspects of the general subject of general elections, as a warm-up to this year’s general election” .
The late Benjamin Mkapa was himself an avid reader of my weekly articles in this column. I therefore immediately accepted this challenge; and, starting with that article of 13th August, 2020; all my weekly articles thereafter have been on this single subject, penned under the appropriate title of “TOWARDS THE 2020 GENERAL ELECTION”.
But now that the general election exercise is safely over; we will revert to other current topics, and discuss them as when they occur, in the same way we have always done.
However, because the month of October is our dedicated month for paying homage to the late Mwalimu Nyerere, I believe it will be proper and befitting, to conclude this particular series of election- related articles, with a piece on Nyerere’s strong views on the matter of ‘ private candidates’ prohibition from participating in our national elections.
In this context, “private candidate” means “an election candidate who is not sponsored for election by any fully registered political party”. This is a legal prohibition, and is provided for, in the case of Presidential elections, in article 39(1) ( c) of the country’s Constitution; and in art. 67(1) (c ) in respect of Parliamentary election candidates.
And for Local Authority election candidates, similar prohibition is provided for in the Local Authorities Election laws. These prohibitions were imposed by the ‘one-party’ Constitution of 1965. The primary reason for it was given as “to enable the party to exercise control over the quality of its candidates, specifically their integrity and ethics”.
In the special circumstances of that time, this was probably right, and also necessary; because there was no other established authority, or organ, which could undertake such tasks.
Nyerere’s stance on this matter But, probably unknown to many people, Mwalimu Nyerere’s mind had, upon the country’s transition to multi-party politics, gone through a crucial fundamental change.
He had genuinely adopted the view, that this prohibition imposed by law on election participation by ‘private candidates’, was a breach of an important human right, namely the citizen’s right to vote in national elections.
He expressed this opinion very clearly in his book titled “Our Leadership and the Destiny of Tanzania, in the following words :- “I am not denying that the right of everyone to stand in an election was effectively denied during the one party system. But I argued then, and I continue to do so now, that with two candidates being submitted to the free choice of the voters (the system that was in operation at the time), that was the most democratic system under the circumstances of that time. But after moving to the multi-party system, a move which I fully supported, we were effectively saying that the circumstances have changed. Therefore this restriction on the exercise of one of the basic fundamental peoples’ rights could be lifted without endangering the unity and peace of our country”.
He returned to this subject at a public rally in Mbeya on May Day, 1995, to which he had been invited as the ‘guest of honour’.
In his key note address, among many other things, Mwalimu Nyerere said the following:- “ Ninalo tatizo moja ambalo nataka kulisema hapa, kwa sababu ninaliona kuwa jambo la msingi sana. Mini nadhani sheria zetu zimekosea sana kwa kuzuia wagombea binafsi kushiriki katika uchaguzi. Hili ni jambo la msingi kwa sababu linamnyima mtu haki yake ya kuomba kupigiwa kura. Hiyo ni haki yake ya ki-raia, ambayo huwezi kumyima”.
Nevertheless, despite this crusade by Mwalimu Nyerere for the rights of the ‘private candidate’ to participate in national elections, the said prohibitions have not yet been lifted.
It should, however, be noted that the proposed new Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania has taken care of this matter in its article 88(1)(f); which allows the participation of ‘private candidate’ in the Presidential elections; and in its article 140(1) (c ), which grants similar relief to candidates seeking relief to Parliament.
But President Magufuli has clearly stated that “he is not in any hurry” to complete the remaining (referendum) stage of this Constitution-making process , for the cogent reasons which he himself has publicly explained, namely that he is giving first priority to other, more important infrastructure development projects (which we all have indeed witnessed, and fully appreciated).
This is completely in line with the late Mwalimu Nyerere’s philosophy of “kupanga ni kuchagua”. Which means that proper planning involves the making of proper choices between competing priorities.
Thus, considering the fact that we have, as a nation, solemnly pledged to maintain and implement Mwalimu Nyerere’s legacy; and his philosophy of “kupanga ni kuchagua”, being one of his most significant legacy components; it must therefore be duly maintained, and implemented, wherever and whenever possible. And that is what President Magufuli is precisely doing.