Thursday, 6 February 2014

In this I support Lowassa

The election mood is heating up in Tanzania. Candidates and political parties are slowly but steadily shaping up and readying themselves for 2015 elections. The ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) is doing all sorts of political readjustments like celebrating 37 years of its existence just to sell itself to the people. The main opposition party Chama cha Demokrasia

na Maendeleo (Chadema) is grappling with in-party wrangling and recently it has embarked on a meet-the-people nationwide tour dubbed as Operation Movement for Change (M4C) - Pamoja Daima. Clearly, these two political outfits are shaping up in readiness for the elections. Despite the outward people centric portrayal of these two main parties, there exists internal fault lines. Whereas Chadema is trying to 'discipline' party dissidents and the so-called 'betrayers', CCM is grappling with internal rivalries born out of the quest for the top seat for some of its members. There seems to be similarities and parallelism between these two parties at the moment. Previously, the opposition took swipe at the ruling party blaming it for the endemic, cataclysmic and virulent corruption and lack of party transparency. Tides are shifting, with Chadema being accused of similar practices. the President, speaking at the 37th anniversary of CCM in Mbeya took a hyperbolic swipe at Chadema saying "CCM remains strong, whereas the other parties (Chadema) seem not to find their feet at the moment:". Chadema is now trying to save face by carrying out nationwide tours.

CCM greatest concern has been the former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa who has silently declared his desire for the presidency come 2015. In a new year's party hosted at his home constituency, Mr. Lowassa said that he has embarked on a "dream to see a Tanzania with proper sanitation, good education and equality." This statement, though passive, was interpreted to mean he was declaring his candidacy for the top post in Tanzania. CCM luminaries have come out strong and condemned Lowassa for this saying that it is too early to declare his intention for the top job. Former Prime Minister and veteran politician John Malecela has strongly criticized Lowassa for this. Others have included, CCM Secretary Phillip Mangula and the likes of Nape Nnauye the vibrant Secretary in charge of Politics and Ideology. The party is summoning a mini-convention in either Dodoma or Dar es Salaam which will be attended by former Tanzania Presidents Benjamin Mkapa and Ali Hassan Mwinyi and former Zanzibar President Amani Karume to discuss the brewing discomfort brought about by Lowassa's possible candidacy.

I am dismayed at the level of criticism leveled on Lowassa who is imbuing his democratic right to put his name forward for possible selection for the top job. It is quite astonishing and perplexing to say the least, why his candidacy is causing jitters among members of his party. We learn from comparative politics that all politics is local. Take the rise to prominence of Barack Obama. It was during the 2004 National Democratic Convention that he gave the keynote address which made him a national star and set stage for his subsequent election in 2008 as the first Black  American President in US. Political strategists will tell you that his election campaign began that night in Boston, Massachusetts.

Sun Tzu, the renowned Chinese military general and strategist says that "The art of war is of vital importance to the State" and in this case the statesman or politician. Mr Lowassa, may have his own share of political baggage that led to his resignation as Prime Minister but his ambition to lead should not be rubbished. Drawing from Sun Tzu, the commander needs to stand for the virtues of wisdom, sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness. This is summed up in the first tactic of laying out the plans. Mr. Lowassa seems to have already laid out his plans. He is building a vibrant network of professionals, youth, veteran politicians, businessmen and the church which is his foundation. This seems not to go well with a crossection of CCM bigwigs who in my opinion feel threatened.

The year 2014, from the onset seems its going to be a crucial political year for Tanzania. With the constitution process still on and the forth coming election, it promises to be a bumper year, and one with a lot of political and economic significance. I am pleased that political parties are now avenues of political contests which in turn will be vital for nationwide pluralism as is been envisioned by the proposed new constitution. This is what we need in Tanzania anyway. Political pluralism, in-party democracy and government transparency will definitely steer economic development and growth.

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