Tanzania: No Easy Ride for CCM in the Bunda Urban Constituency

Bunda — The competition for Bunda Urban constituency is between Chadema's Ester Bulaya, and a CCM candidate, Mr Robert Maboto.

Ms Bulaya is seeking re-election in a constituency that was under CCM and dominated by men for 42 years.

In 2015, Ms Bulaya easily carried the constituency partly because of the support from the coalition of major opposition parties known in its Kiswahili acronym as Ukawa.

Eying its chance this time, mainly because of lack of unity among opposition political parties, CCM has put a spirited fight for the constituency. Hopes of retaking the constituency were so high that during the CCM nomination process as more than 60 aspirants took nomination forms and Mr Maboto eventually beat them all.

He is a senior cadre of CCM in Bunda constituency. Nonetheless, he has no experience in elective politics despite being a prominent businessman in Bunda. He runs a financial services company in Bunda that has given him popularity. His lack of experience in elective politics is also counterbalanced by a formidable campaign team that is composed of more than 60 CCM cadres who participated in the nomination process. Mr Maboto also counts on CCM's formidable grassroots network. But he also hopes to ride on the popularity of President John Magufuli.

Unseating Ms Bulaya would, however, not be that easy for CCM, according to analysts. The ruling party, with its financial and political muscle, is facing a battle-hardened politician, a woman of steel who made history by becoming not only the first female lawmaker, but also the first opposition legislator in the constituency that counts a former Prime Minister (Joseph Warioba) and an ex-cabinet minister (Stephen Wassira) among lawmakers who served Bunda constituency since it was established in 1973.

But Ms Bulaya is also eloquent, bold and has a political stamina that has been tested and proven in the past five years, in and out of parliament through suspensions in parliament and the many court cases that saw her spend time in remand prisons in various occasions.

However, it was her powerful contributions in parliament from the time she served as a CCM Special Seats MP that brought her to the national attention.

After serving as CCM Special Seats MP for one term (2010-2015) Ms Bulaya decamped to Chadema and successfully ran for the Bunda Urban constituency in 2015 against Mr Wassira.

She also won the ensuing court battle. Some CCM members had, successfully, challenged Ms Bulaya's victory at the High Court. But Ms Bulaya appealed against the ruling and won.

Ms Bulaya and Mr Maboto served together as CCM cadres in Bunda before the former decamped to Chadema. They are, however, not the only ones contesting the Bunda Urban constituency.

Candidates from other political parties who are also eyeing the Bunda constituency include Chiluma Subi (NCCR-Mageuzi) and Josephine Songambele (CUF). But much of the tussle has so far been between CCM and Chadema. Subi was a Chadema councillor who decamped to NCCR- Mageuzi.

Analysts say despite the strong competition from CCM, several issues might come to the help of the outspoken politician. These include installing lighting at the Bunda vegetables market that has enabled vendors to ply their wares even at night.

Bulaya Cup, an annual sports tournament, is so popular that it has become an important non-partisan event in Bunda's sports calendar. This could prove as an advantage to her if she uses it well.

Stakeholders' views

Mr James Timber, a journalist who has been covering both campaigns says the two main candidates differ markedly in their eloquence and ability to express themselves.

"On the campaign stages Ms Bulaya is more eloquent, seems confident and far more militant. She built these qualities since when she was in the CCM's Youth Wing and in her 2015 campaign," says Mr Timber."Mr Maboto seems to be a man of few words and big plans. However, this makes him look docile and incapable of warding off the bombardment from his opponents."

Candidates' promises

Ms Bulaya has promised voters that she will ensure the Lake Victoria water project is completed.

"For all the years when Bunda was being represented by CCM MPs, we could not get even a drop of water from Lake Victoria, which is across the corner," she tells voters.

"But only within five years after you elected me your MP we have been able to get this big project, which will cover our water access needs by more than 70 per cent. Be assured that more projects will come if you re-elect me," she adds.

She has also promised to improve services at the Manyamanyama District Hospital to facilitate provision of loans to entrepreneurs and rehabilitation of Bunda town roads.

Mr Maboto, for his part, has promised to work with government to improve living conditions of the people.

"I will work with President John Magufuli to ensure that all development projects are implemented in the constituency, as the President promised when he passed here," Maboto says.

He has also promised to fight for the establishment of vocational and technical colleges to enable the youth to employ themselves.

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