Thursday, 11 April 2013

Uhuru-Kikwete new found love: Why it is a battle between CCM and Chadema

Nicodemus Minde, Nairobi
Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in as the fourth president of Kenya in a colorful occasion attended by many African leaders. It was evident in the occasion that Tanzania’s president Jakaya Kikwete was abnormally close to president Uhuru. President Kikwete and President Kenyatta sat together during the state luncheon held at state house. Kikwete, who like Uhuru, is the fourth president of his country. President Kikwete, on behalf of all other invited heads of state and government was tasked to give a vote of thanks after the state lunch. Despite the close historical cooperation between Tanzania and Kenya, the newly found love between Uhuru and Kikwete reveal a number of hidden political dynamics, mostly within the corpus of Tanzanian politics. 

Uhuru and Kikwete discuss a point
Tanzania and Kenya have historically been close regional partners. Though founded on different ideological backgrounds, the two nations have worked closely together for decades. Their relationship has been mostly on the premise of trade, commerce and investments. Close cultural, lingual and historical backgrounds have been the fulcrum of their closely knit relationship. The cordial relationship between Tanzania and Kenya has been cemented further by the East African Community.

Back to the Kikwete-Uhuru close relationship. It is recalled that Uhuru Kenyatta, during his campaign visited Tanzania with a delegation of the Jubilee coalition team. Kikwete hosted Uhuru and his team in Dar-es-Salaam statehouse, where they discussed a number issues. Though he visited a host of many other countries, Uhuru’s reception in Dar-es-Salaam was better organized and far from impromptu as the others. It should further be recalled that Uhuru Kenyatta’s closest competitor in the March 4 election, Raila Odinga is big friend to Tanzania’s leading opposition party Chama cha Democrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA). It is believed that Chadema offered Raila Odinga a number of campaign material such as helicopters and campaign trucks and musicians pro bono. With Kikwete as the chairman of the ruling party Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), the generous gesture by Chadema towards Raila Odinga was an act of war and therefore, CCM had to support Uhuru Kenyatta. This of course was not done in the open but through proxy. When Uhuru Kenyatta prevailed over Raila Odinga, it was not only a victory for the Jubilee coalition but for CCM in retrospect. The political battle between CCM and Chadema, by proxy was fought and won in the Kenyan elections. As Tanzania gears up for the next general election, the psychological victory by CCM will to an extent influence the campaigns.