Tanzania: Membe Campaign Plan Leaves Voters Puzzled

Dar es Salaam — Tanzanians will be voting for their next President tomorrow, but actions of ACT-Wazalendo presidential candidate Bernard Membe have left many puzzled.

Many people and followers of the candidate were left at the crossroads when a letter written by Mr Membe leaked recently, indicating his decision to withdraw from the presidential race.

Addressed to the party chairman, Mr Seif Sharif Hamad, on September 24, the letter indicated his decision to quit the race, citing various reasons. This topped a series of his absenteeism from the campaign trails from the moment he launched his campaigns at Mpilipili Primary School grounds in Lindi Region.

A Political Science lecturer from the University of Dar es Salaam, Dr Richard Mbunda, told The Citizen yesterday that both Mr Membe and ACT-Wazalendo were not well prepared for the 2020 elections.

"We expected him to do more during the campaigning period, but his absenteeism showed that they were not well prepared for the presidential race," he said.

Dr Mbunda added that MrMembe's low-key campaigns might also be attributed to the low election budget.

He added: "It seems that even the party did not have enough funds in their budget to finance presidential campaign rallies across the country."

After launching his campaign, Mr Membe held a few rallies only in the southern regions before an impromptu leave to Dubai, which triggered many queries from his fellow party cadres.

On his return, Mr Membe said his trip was for business purposes.

"I am aware of the circulating speculations about my whereabouts. However, let me be clear about this; I am a board member of one of the biggest companies in Dubai. Therefore, I usually visit Dubai four times a year," said Mr Membe.

However, the former Foreign Affairs minister , who was expelled by by the ruling party CCM, disappeared from the public eye again, before October 19 when he issued a press conference stating his ambition on the 2020 General Election.

Mr Membe reiterated that he was still in the run for the presidency, stressing he would start his campaigns in the remaining days to election. "I will be in the campaigns full swing from today to October 27 because I want to score an 89th minute goal. It will be like a reserve player fielded in the last minutes in order to score a winning goal," he was quoted as saying. At that time, his party leaders Zitto Kabwe and national chairman Seif Sharrif Hamad had already endorsed Chadema's presidential candidate Tundu Lissu.

Another political elite from the University of Dodoma, Dr Paul Luisulie, said Mr Membe decision to do little in the presidential campaign race was associated with how big his name is compared to his position of this year election.

"There have been two candidates that has dominated the campaigns in this year elections, from that angle I can say Mr Membe looked and saw that he cannot attract such huge crowds as his counterparts," he said.

He said Mr Membe has succeeded in building his brand as a government minister and intelligence officer for decades, "maybe this was his strategy in protecting his brand."

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