Dar/Zanzibar — Political parties stepped up their preparations for the forthcoming General Election yesterday as the day for commencement of actual campaigns draws closer.
Election campaigns are scheduled to start on August 26 for Tanzania Mainland, and September 11 for Zanzibar. But, yesterday, ACT-Wazalendo and Chadema fired up their members when they conducted vital meetings in the countdown to the elections.
This happened at a time when CCM's Parents Wing conducted a voting exercise that saw to two of their members cruising closer to clinching legislative positions in the 12th Parliament in the quinquennial series - and two more in the Zanzibar House of Representives.
This was the first time that the CCM's Parents Wing will have its representatives in the two Houses.
A total of 32 candidates yesterday contested to seek the ruling party's endorsement to serve the Parliamentary roles. The top three candidates from Tanzania Mainland (and the number of votes they received in brackets) included: Bahati Ndingo (51), Namelock Sokoine (9) and Asha Feruzi (6). For those vying for the Zanzibar House of Representatives, the top three were: Najma Murtaza Giga (79), Habiba Mohammed (10) and Arada Abdallah (6). From the list one will be picked to become a Member of Parliament. Similarly, the top three in the list of those vying for the Zanzibar House of Representatives and their votes in brackets were: Sabiha Fil Fil Thani (72), Aza Joseph (67) and Asha Khamis. Two of them will become members of the House of Representatives.
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Yesterday started with a bash for ACT-Wazalendo presidential candidates as they received a heroic reception when they returned to Zanzibar.
Former Foreign Affairs minister Bernard Membe and ACT-Wazalendo's national chairman, Seif Shariff Hamad, returned to the Isles yesterday after taking part in the opposition party's decision-making meetings in Dar es Salaam where they were endorsed as the party's presidential candidates in the October 28, 2020 General Election.
Mr Membe is ACT-Wazalendo's Presidential candidate for the United Republic, while Seif Shariff Hamad will vie for the Zanzibar Presidency.
The duo left the Dar es Salaam port early in the morning alongside Mr Membe's running mate, Prof Omary Fakih Hamad, party leader Zitto Kabwe and gecretary general Ado Shaibu.
At the Malindi Port in Unguja, thousands of the party's members queued all the way to Darajani in a welcome gesture for their party's flag-bearers.
Two cars, decorated with party colours (white and purple), were parked at Malindi port. Mr Hamad and Mr Kabwe boarded one vehicle while Mr Membe and Prof Fakih boarded the other.
The party's cadres chanted party slogans as they escorted their leaders passing through Malindi, Darajani, Mkunazini, Kisonge, Michenzani, Maisara and up to the party's Vuga offices.
Speaking in Zanzibar, the ACT-Wazalendo leaders urged security organs to deliver justice to all political parties ahead of October 28 Election.
They also called on state-owned media outlets to provide equal opportunity to all political parties.
Addressing thousands of party cadres, members and supporters at the party's Vuga offices in Unguja, Mr Hamad said his party was not looking for favours from security organs and state owned media organizations.
"They should avoid illegalizing things when done by the opposition parties but regard the very same things are normal (legal) when executed by CCM," he said.
He said state owned media organizations run by taxpayers' money, noting that it was unfortunate that they blacklisted the opposition while giving live coverage to functions organized by CCM and its institutions.
Mr Hamad - who contested the Zanzibar presidency in 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015 - claimed that police in Pemba planned to impose restrictions on receptions of party's presidential candidates on Tuesday, August 11, 2020.
"This is contrary to the treatment that was provided by the CCM presidential candidate. All political parties at this juncture are equal, therefore they should be given equal treatment," he said.
He said his party will conduct civilized campaigns and urged the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (Zec) to do justice to all parties.
"We at the ACT-Wazalendo do promise that we will hold civilized campaigns and concede defeat provided that elections are free and fair. The CCM candidate (Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi) should make a similar public commitment," he suggested, reminding the government to walk the talk on its free and fair elections promise.
Addressing the public, Mr Membe said Zanzibar was a country that needed to be respected, promising to put that into practice once he becomes the president.
"I will return to Zanzibar the clerics who were arrested and sent to the Mainland where they are remanded - as if there was no judiciary in the Isles. Their case will be heard in Zanzibar, and if they are innocent they will be released," he said.
The party's leader, Mr Kabwe, said peace would prevail in Zanzibar if the elections are conducted freely and fairly.
"I know you have never rejected Mr Hamad - and that you will choose him again. Today's reception has sent a message that you will protect your votes during this year's General Election," he said.
Chadema clears 163 for Parliamentary election
Meanwhile, Chadema's Central Committee (CC) yesterday cleared a total of 163 out of 214 candidates who will vie for Parliamentary seats in the October General Election.
Some of notable names approved by the party's CC (and the constituencies they represent shown in brackets) include Halima Mdee (Kawe), Boniface Jacob (Ubungo), John Mrema (Segerea), Godbless Lema (Arusha Urban), Freeman Mbowe (Hai), Upendo Peneza (Geita Urban), Esther Bulaya (Bunda Urban), Esther Matiko (Tarime Urban) and John Heche (Tarime Rural).
Others are Emmanuel Lukumay (Bagamoyo), Michael Mtaly (Kibaha Urban), Edward Kinabo (Kibaha Rural), Baraka Ndonde (Kisarawe), Baraka Mwago (Mkuranga), Kulwa Lubuva (Kibiti), Hanifa Chiwili (Rufiji) and Omary Hassan (Kilwa).
Announcing the nominated candidates, Chadema's deputy secretary general (Tanzania Mainland) Benson Kigaila said the party will soon announce another 51 nominated candidates for Tanzania Mainland, and 50 more for Zanzibar.
"There are a total of 264 Constituencies in Tanzania. In Tanzania Mainland, there are 214 and 50 in Zanzibar. The candidates for the 51 remaining constituencies will be announced in the coming days," said Mr Kigaila at a press conference at the party's headquarters in Kinondoni, in the city.
He added that the party's CC had considered several criteria when nominating the candidates.
"In accordance with our Constitution, the process to nominate the candidates involves several procedures including the internal elections. But it is the National Congress that has the mandate to make a final decision in compliance with other several criteria," he added.
Most of those who have been nominated to vie for this year's Parliamentary elections are the party's former Members of Parliament (MPs) who won elections during 2015 general election.
Again, he revealed, all of the party's special seats lawmakers who won the elections in 2015 have made it ton this year's shortlist as well.
Referring to the pending nomination of other party's 51 candidates for Tanzania Mainland, Mr Kigaila further revealed that the party's National Congress was in the final stage to release the second shortlist of other candidates to vie for the remaining 51 Constituencies.
However, the party's National Chairman Mr Freeman Mbowe, speaking during the recent Chadema National Congress meeting, was quoted as saying that the party was in talks with other opposition political parties, including ACT Wazalendo, with the intention of forming a coalition - and, therefore, he asserted that his party will be forced to allow other partner candidates to vie for certain constituencies as agreed.