Eight political parties are vying for the seat which formerly was occupied by the ruling party CCM, and would be more rewarding to them if they could retain their seat. However, unless a miracle works out, the seat is expected to be won by either of the two strong aspirants, CCM or Chadema.
The fiercely contested seat will find its true owner possibly on Monday, leaving residents of Arumeru with memories that will take them long to forget. As expected, there were a lot of mudslinging, mistrust to the parties and the National Electoral Commission (NEC) for fear of vote rigging.
The trend of these by-elections seems to have assumed national character rather than an affair of local electorates in their constituencies as big guns are brought in these local by-elections to spearhead the campaigns.
What do you expect to hear from such campaigns if you put together all the parties’ big shorts who rarely meet except in such gatherings, Igunga, Arumeru where their manifestos are being tested? Why not allocate them with air time in the electronic media to market their already known manifestos from afar, and leaving the contestants with their local leaders to do the campaigns in those constituencies? It has been established that these agents and national party leaders are the ones triggering chaos in these by-elections.
They dominate the campaigns against the aspirants and they do most of the talking while the contestants are just waiting in the wings. I believe if this were the opposite, we would not have been dragged into listening to these hullabaloos. Unlike the Igunga by-elections whose tension threatened peace, harmony and tranquility of the country, but the Arumeru’s political campaigns just confirmed the bad blood that exists between the two major parties CCM and Chadema.
The inaugurations of political campaigns at Arumeru in particular the two parties ignited the Pandora box that ensued the hurling of obstinate rhetoric that deserved to be condemned. It was until Mama Maria Nyerere and Tanzania Episcopal Conference Bishop’s interventions cooled the tamper and eased the situation to normality.
I had hoped the new Chairperson of National Electoral Commission (NEC) Judge Damian Lubuva would have fletched his muscles when he confirmed that NEC has the legal authority of barring leaders from conducting these campaigns if there are indications to have misdirected themselves in the process of campaigning. Which evidence was he looking for other than what has been seen and heard?
Tanzania has been known to be an island of peace and harmony in this region and is required to continue to be so. But it should be remembered that peace has always been a byproduct of justice, therefore all the role players should be advised to stick to the rules of the game particularly on the voting and counting days. We might be having some more by-elections and would wish not to see the repeat of such attitude of our leaders from our parties.
Let the Arumeru people ignore all those statements of bellicose and just go to vote as Tanzanians residents of Arumeru regardless of their political differences.The hate speeches, the fracas in the campaigns necessitated more calls for exercising political tolerance as the days were zeroing to tomorrow’s by-election.
And hopefully even that so called vigilance of protecting votes from being rigged would be done peacefully without a repeat of the Ubungo episode of guarding the votes. In all fairness I can confidently say, apart from the false start of the Arumeru campaigns, it progressed well in comparison with the Igunga by- election; and there are indications of slightly moving into party tolerance.
Hopefully in the next by-election, if at there will be one, things will get much better. The political evolution in terms of democratization is getting better and stronger by the day. We should reach at a point of satisfying ourselves at the end the day that the democracy has won and not looking for lame excuses. But this will depend on fairness and level play field.
We have also learned in a hard way in enduring this kind of electoral system. We have conducted several by-elections which have always opened wounds to our fragile democracy. With the expectation of writing a new constitution, definitely this will be considered and taken care off.
The proportional representation to the Parliament should be considered. Imagine the Arummeru, Igunga by-elections wouldn’t have been there, if we were to run our elections in proportional representation. It would have been a question of taking the next in line within the Party lists for replacements.
Can you imagine how much was spent in these by-elections? Not only on monetary count but also the political feud and slandering that was observed during these campaigns? How can we heal these wounds? The proportional representation allows for greater inclusion of smaller parties in the legislature and is more inclusive of socially diverse list of candidates. It restricts regional fiefdoms leading to power sharing and coalition government.
However one of the disadvantages is that members of the parliament have no constituencies as there is only one constituency which is the party list. This, in a way makes the members of the parliament not to be accountable to the electorates but only to the Party. Imagine the case of members of Parliament Kafulila and Hamadi Rashidi, they would have been out of the Parliament because their constituencies had already rejected them.
All these need to be considered, because I know even some of the countries with proportional representation want to revert to our system where members of the parliament are answerable to the electorates. Should we go for the Proportional Representation? Your answer is as good as mine.