Campaign rallies have kicked off in Tanzania. Newcomers will get a chance to convince voters while the old guard maintains they are unbeatable. Whoever wins, Tanzania must protect its democracy, says Anaclet Rwegayura.
Just like championships organized by sports associations bring out the best of their athletes, political campaign rallies are meant to sell their presidential and parliamentary candidates to the public as Tanzania gears up for the October 28, 2020, general election.
The rallies are expected to attract huge crowds of supporters from different political parties, all eager to know the weaknesses and strengths of the opposing side.
As the nation gets ready for the election held once every five years, voters expect rival parties and their candidates to demonstrate political maturity and make realistic promises.
Election fully paid by taxpayer
We should, as citizens committed to principles of democracy, take our hats off to the government for proving its capability to meet all costs of this essential civic duty. With a budget of 331 billion Tanzanian shillings (approximately $142 million or €119 million), Tanzania is paying for this election from its coffers instead of seeking foreign aid.
It is evident that many countries are struggling with new challenges and costs arising from the coronavirus pandemic and measures to curb the spread. It appears that Tanzania, where no lockdown was imposed, has been spared the worst of the crisis for now.
No matter what or who influenced party candidates to seek election, President John Pombe Magufuli is now acknowledged by religious leaders for successfully guiding Tanzania on a godly foundation. He always encourages the nation to put God first in every undertaking, including issues that confront his people.
In the run-up to the polls, President Magufuli has emphasized to law-enforcers and election officials to ensure justice to all people and their political parties. There are reports of unfair treatment raised by opposition parties. Some say their candidates for parliamentary and local elections were dubiously disqualified.
Is Tanzania's democracy growing or stunted?
We are almost a 60-year-old nation. Among developed nations, Tanzania is still considered young, but in reality, it is mature enough to influence other countries in many aspects, including governance and leadership. At election time, we ask ourselves: Is Tanzania's democracy growing or stunted?
The answer should not be uttered imprudently or without elaboration. I would expect people to ponder over this question and give well-thought-out responses, after frank discussions on how open our society is about eliminating discrimination, corruption, and upholding the rule of law. This should be an ongoing national discussion after the elections if we are going to stamp out corruption and solidify civilian rule. We cannot afford to let our democratic system fall into ruins.
Today, we see some of the so-called advanced nations that claim to be democratic haggling over racial injustices, their ancestry or heritage, before deciding who to elect as their next representative. The world wonders what democracy means to these "democratically established nations!"
Need for leaders with a vision
In some African countries, political discrimination still rides on the back of ethnicity and faith, fueled by corruption to strangle the freedom of expression and snatch it away from voters' hands. Tanzania has struggled to overcome these hurdles, but total success is yet to be registered. What is happening in specific constituencies, according to eyewitness accounts, is very disturbing.
Results of the 2020 polls must reflect the will of the Tanzanian people from the local level through to the National Assembly of the United Republic and the House of Representatives in Zanzibar as well as to the presidency for the Union and the Isles.