Tanzania: Towards 2020 General Elections - the Opposition Parties' Forlorn 'Great Expectations'


"GREAT EXPECTATIONS", is the title of a book which I enjoyed reading during my University student days. It was written by Charles Dickens, a renowned English novelist who lived between 1812 and 1870. I have borrowed the words of that book's title for use in this article, precisely because they appear to offer the most accurate rendition of the Opposition parties' desired, but most obviously unachievable, goal of "removing CCM from power".

I have described such desire, or ambition by the Opposition parties as obviously unachievable (in this forthcoming October 2020 general elections), for equally obvious and cogent reasons, which will be explained in this article.

Can CCM be removed from power?

The answer is that it depends entirely on the prevailing circumstances at the material time. CCM can, theoretically, be removed from power at any given general election, if it fails to obtain enough votes that would enable it to retain power. In other words, if CCM loses that election. And that, is indeed the essence, and the principal product, of all multi-party political competitions everywhere in the world.

But such an eventuality cannot possibly occur, merely as a result of a selfish campaign crusade, or of such forlorn desire by the Opposition parties, who are merely seeking to acquire that power themselves by simply replacing CCM 'in the driver's seat'.

Such attempts are bound to fail, mainly because CCM can only be removed from power on much more solid grounds, when the majority of the voters, in their own honest assessment, become convinced that CCM has totally failed them in their expectations. The relevant factors that could contribute to such a situation, would be:

(i) A miserable failure by CCM, to implement its own election manifesto; (ii) Some abhorrent, or unethical conduct such as corruption or Ufisadi, manifested by its political operatives, particularly those who occupy leadership positions at the apex of the national leadership pyramid.

(ii) the insatiable ambitions of its top national leader who might wish to overstays in office, to such an annoying extent that the voters just decide to get rid of him (together with his political party)! It is therefore my contention that, in the absence of such negative factors, as is currently the case with regard to CCM; the prospect of CCM being removed from power, is a very dim and distant possibility.

The worrying circumstances of 2015

It could be possible, that the Opposition parties are drawing false hopes from what happened in the 2015 Presidential election, when the CHADEMA candidate, Edward Lowassa, came close enough to defeating the CCM candidate, Dr. John Pombe Magufuli. But these would appear to be false, or forlorn hopes; because they seem to be based on an unfortunate misunderstanding of the facts of that particular event.

In respect thereof, I would humbly submit that the 2015 Presidential election was, purely accidentally, shrouded in an abnormal atmosphere of unpredictability regarding the outcome of that election; an extraordinary situation which cannot be relied upon to reappear this year, nor even at any other foreseeable time in the near future.

The general political atmosphere in the country during the 2015 Presidential election campaigns, was indeed abnormal; being filled with a mixture of contrasting expectations regarding the outcome of that election; for the simple reason that two of the leading candidates, Dr. John Pombe Magufuli of CCM, and Edward Ngoyai Lowassa of CHADEMA; were of seemingly equal, or near equal appeal, to the majority of the electorate. In addition, the Opposition party's candidate, Edward Lowassa, was all the time exuding magnificent confidence, that he was going to win the Presidency, "before the end of the second Mass", as he himself confidently declared. (election day was on Sunday). Thus, for him and his enthusiastic followers, they were only anxiously waiting for 'the day of reckoning' (election day) to arrive, for them to just confirm their "great expectations".

On the their part, the CCM members and supporters, were treading cautiously along the campaign path, in the circumstances, unable to predict victory.

Then there were those who preferred to just "wait and see"; but were generally apprehensive of what might happen when the results of the Presidential election were announced. Their fears were based mainly on 'the fear of the unknown' syndrome, worried by what had happened in neighbouring Kenya, which had experienced very big trouble as a result of their 2007 Presidential election. They kept on saying "you never know what may happen" . They were obviously overburdened by the weight of feelings of fear and apprehension, regarding what might happen, and not of what will actually happen.

This was the exceptional political situation prevailing in the country during the 2015 Presidential election, containing a rich mixture of joyous expectations and of excitements; as well as those of fears and apprehensions. It was an exceptional situation which does not qualify to be taken as a binding, or even as a guiding, precedent.

The primary reason for this extraordinary situation appears to have been the high calibre of the leading Presidential contestants.

The top contestants in the 2015 Presidential election race were: Dr. John Pombe Magufuli of CCM; and Edward Ngoyai Lowassa of CHADEMA. Even our own experience of previous Presidential elections, shows that where the contest is between candidates of seemingly equal (or near equal) appeal to the electorate, the contest always becomes hot and exciting. This, apparently, is how human nature ordinarily responds to such events.

William Shakespeare, that famous English dramatist, wrote the following lines in his Play titled Measure for Measure:- "Oh, it is excellent to have a giant's strength. But it is tyrannous to use it like a giant".

In the context of the 2015 Presidential election, candidates Magufuli, and Lowassa were each perceived to have the (political) "giant's strength". Both of them had developed their vast leadership experience within CCM, each having held prominent national - level leadership positions in the CCM government for many years consecutively. And for the 2015 Presidential election, both had sought CCM's nomination to become that party's election candidate.

At the end of the day, it was Dr. John Pombe Magufuli who, rather unexpectedly, secured the CCM nomination. Terribly disappointed and dissatisfied, and in a manifest demonstration of protest, Edward Lowassa immediately defected to the Opposition camp, and joined CHADEMA; who readily offered him the coveted nomination as their chosen candidate for that year's Presidential election.

That is how the game of this "contest between giants" became created, obviously more by accident rather than by design. And that particular factor of a 'contest between giants' of nearly equal political strength, was the principal reason for CCM and its supporters to worry about the unpredictability of the possible outcome of this election.

Furthermore, having got onto the campaign stage, Opposition candidate Edward Lowassa's performance was approximately equivalent, in the words of Shakespeare, to "using his giant's strength like a giant". I wish to emphasize that this was an exceptional situation, that cannot be reasonably relied upon to reappear, any time soon.

There was also the factor that this was a competition between an entirely new team of candidates; since the incumbent President Jakaya Kikwete was then completing his second term in office, and was therefore not in the list of contestants. This conveniently eliminated the hidden factor of some voters being influenced by certain muted considerations, such as loyalty to the President who is seeking re-election.

All of these factors are presently absent

We have made the little digression above to discuss the exceptional situation of the 2015 Presidential election, primarily in order to disabuse the seemingly misguided Opposition's belief, that they will "remove CCM from power" at the forthcoming October 2020 general election!

That, indeed, is a misguided belief because the Opposition appears to be basing such forlorn hopes on that 'one off' accidental performance by their Presidential candidate Edward Lowassa, in the 2015 Presidential election. I sincerely hope that the facts produced in this presentation, will help to convince them, that such 'windfall profit' cannot possibly be reasonably expected to be made again in this year's general election, nor, indeed, at any time soon!

It is my firm contention, that the Opposition's exceptional 2015 electoral performance, was certainly not based on their own inherent electoral strength. It was based rather on the personal electoral appeal of their then Presidential candidate, Edward Lowassa.

Now that the said Edward Lowassa is no longer with the Opposition camp; having wisely 'returned home' to CCM soon after having failed to achieve his personal ambition of winning the Presidency.

This then reminds me of the interesting Bible story, that of Samson, a character of extraordinary bodily strength, whose strength is said to have been rooted in the hair on his head; who, in the course of his life like most other men, fell in love with a woman called Delila.

Subsequently , upon gentle persuasion by Delila whom he dearly loved, Samson revealed to her, the secret source of his magic strength, namely the hair on his head. Unfortunately, unknown to Samson, Delila was in fact a conspiratorial traitor, who had conspired with Samson's enemies to deprive him of his magic strength. She soon disclosed Samson's secret to his enemies; who then captured him, and forcibly shove off his magic hair. Thereafter, Samson lost his proverbial magic strength, and thus lost his previous ability to perform miraculous feats.

Edward Lowassa must have realized that his political strength was deeply rooted in CCM. Hence, when he failed to perform the 'miracle' of winning the Presidency on the Opposition parties' ticket, he decided to 'return home' to CCM; thus depriving the Opposition of his apparently 'magic' personal electoral strength. There is just no way the Opposition can defeat CCM at this year's Presidential election.

In the 'parliamentary system' of government which we inherited from the British at the time of independence; a political party becomes the winner of a general election only if it obtains a majority of the available parliamentary seats. Tanzania's electoral history since the re-introduction of multi-party politics, clearly shows that CCM has consistently scored huge parliamentary majorities at each and every general election, which has always been above 70 per cent.

Thus, in my considered opinion, judging from the statistics shown in our multi-party election history; and in view of the people's widespread appreciation and acknowledgement of President Magufuli's sterling performance and delivery, in implementing the CCM election manifesto; any serious, intelligent guessing, would lead to the conclusion that, in the present prevailing political circumstances , the Opposition's forlorn dream of "removing CCM from power" , is a totally unattainable objective.

As the Holy Bible Old Testament says in Ecclesiastes 9,11 - 12: "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven". The right 'season' for CCM's "removal from power" has not yet arrived !

And as the Kiswahili proverb says: "Mwenye macho haambiwi tazama".

In the light of President Magufuli's sterling performance in managing the affairs of the nation during his first term, is it really reasonable to even imagine, that he could be denied such a well deserved final term, which will only allow him to complete his attractive, gleaming, unfinished business?

(will continue next week)

piomsekwa@gmail.com /0754767576.

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