The fiercely contested seat has found its rightful owner, the youthful Joshua Nassari, leaving residents of Arumeru with memories that will take them long to forget. And this was also confirmed by the Retuning Officer Tracius Kagenzi who boasts of having handled the Tarime by-elections and this one. But this one of Arumeru was very challenging.
No wonder Mr Kagenzi was showered with praises from the Chairman of National Electoral Commission (NEC), Justice Damian Lubuva. The eight political parties had each expected to win the Arumeru constituency but, however, some of themselves found escorting Chadema and CCM. Did they expect to steal the show?
I very much doubt but the TLP leader Mzee Augustino Mrema said it loudly that the exercise was very expensive and unaffordable to small parties.In my column last week, I expressed my fear of these by-elections being hijacked by national leaders and most of the talking being done by these leaders.
The by-elections have assumed national character at the expense of local residents who need to listen to their contestants. It was indeed a show of personalities and political outbursts which in a way have marred several by-elections, if you can remember the Tarime, Igunga and lastly this one of Arumeru, where a lot of vulgar language was at play. It is rather different with the general elections where the whole country goes to elections.
At least all the aspiring candidates confine themselves in their constituencies and their party manifestos. I would presume that the contestants need to be heard by electorates on how they express themselves in terms of their manifestos and why they are standing for such elections. And actually, not necessarily that I should vote for my party, rather I need to listen to the contestants and make an informed decision when it comes to voting.
I do not want to listen to the Member of Parliament from Mtera or Musoma to come and address our problems in our constituency. How conversant are they in comparison to the aspiring candidates? Actually these are the fomenters of mayhem in all those by-elections. I would not be surprised if some of them might be dragged to the court for slander or abusive language. We have a lot of sensible things to be expressed in these political rallies.
Each party is having its own manifesto which need to be marketed by none other than the contestants rather than using vituperative language which has been heard in Arumeru. The Vision 2025 and its accompanying Development Plans are the government documents and do not belong to any party, therefore these are the things to be explained to the voters together with their manifestos.
If this is the way to conduct ourselves on the way we are going to run our byelections, then we are really in trouble and tolerance amongst our parties would fade away. But where did we go wrong? A veteran SWAPO politician, Ben Amathila was scheduled to observe the 2005 General Elections in Tanzania and was deployed to Mbulu constituency.
Amathila came with a very unique statement. He told me that Tanzanians know what they want and you cannot dictate to them. His observation in the Mbulu constituency at that time was his surprise on how Dr Wilbert Slaa garnered a good number of votes while the same people voted enormously to President Jakaya Kikwete at the expense of their opposition party! You can never insult their intelligence as they know what they want.
This is what actually happened in Arumeru. The people had already made a decision as to whom they would like to be their Member of Parliament and chose Mr Nassari. The prompt acknowledgement of defeat by CCM Ideology and Publicity Secretary Mr Nape Nauye was really an indication of political maturity. He did it in the style of the Senegalese who voted out President Abdul Warde.
It is my first time in this country to hear from a losing party conceding defeat in such a style! Nape dismissed as unfounded
claims that there was foul play in the process. “If Chadema played foul we were not prevented from doing the same, therefore to be sincere we should accept the defeat and plan the way forward,” he told the press. Yes, that is maturity of our democracy and indeed in this by-election, it is democracy which has won.
We should expect much more to come in nurturing our fragile democracy. All that said but it looks there is voter’s apathy. Why should it be that the big number of registered voters did not turn out in the election day? Half of registered voters failed to go to the poll.
The Returning Officer had expected 127,450 registered voters to turn up, but only 60,696 voted in the 17 Wards of Meru District where Nassari garnered 32,672 votes. Could it be that the voting cards have been bought off to prevent others from voting? Anything is possible!
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