Campaign boost for Magufuli from his predecessor

Tanzania's President John Magufuli (centre) waves as he arrives to give a speech during the official launch of the party's campaign at the Jamhuri stadium in Dodoma, Tanzania, on August 29, 2020. 

Photo credit: Ericky Boniphace | AFP

Tanzania's incumbent President John Pombe Magufuli has received a campaign boost from his predecessor as he pushes to the finish line against main rival Tundu Lissu.

Magufuli's predecessor Jakaya Kikwete on Sunday vouched for his successor for the next five years, telling an audience that Tanzania is now less corrupt, and more connected with infrastructure than before.

He spoke as Magufuli's main rival Lissu demanded that all party agents be allowed into polling stations. Lissu said it would be important for electoral body officials to ensure party agents have been given adequate documentation to allow them monitor elections and results as they come.

Mr Kikwete was speaking during a campaign rally for the Ukonga constituency parliamentary candidate Jerry Silaa. But his eye was on the main prize for his party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi, earning a second term for the man who succeeded him.

"CCM has a reliable internal democracy," he told the rally of the party that was created in February 1977 and is now the second longest ruling party on the continent.

"It values people from all social groups including women, men, elders, workers, farmers, the disabled, small, medium and large -scale businessmen, musicians, sportsmen, people of all ages, religions, tribes and other walks of life," he said.

With CCM's internal politics, Kikwete said Tanzania has steadied under good leaders which the party produces, allowing citizens a free choice on where to live or what to do for a living.

"That's why you should trust and vote for Dr Magufuli and his running mate Samia Suluhu Hassan to implement the CCM 2020-25 manifesto after doing so in the last five years," he said, arguing that the Tanzanian President had managed to tame graft in the country.

Kikwete's appearance for Magufuli could be an added boost, especially since most of the laws Magufuli has run on, some controversial, were established during his tenure.

At the rally, he told the audience opposition politicians may have good policies, but their leaders could be unpredictable and may lead the country into geographical divisions which, he argued, could "destroy" the country's stability.

Magufuli succeeded Kikwete after surprisingly winning the CCM nomination ticket against the then perceived favourite, Edward Lowassa (who defected, then returned to CCM). He turned out to be slightly different in administration. Kikwete often travelled abroad frequently but Magufuli has targeted local issues, choosing to send representatives at most events abroad, while focusing on purging graft in local institutions.

Poor county

Nicknamed the bulldozer, he often appeared in public offices to reprimand officials seen as lazy. But he has also implemented Kikwete's controversial policies, including laws restricting use of statistics only provided by the government and other regulations on the media. Officials in Dar, including Kikwete himself, had argued that the Statistics and Cyber Crime laws were meant to protect the public from misleading information. But activists said they criminalised free journalism.

And, despite the purge, the corruption perception in Tanzania remains poor. According to Transparency International, Tanzania ranked 96 out of 180 countries when Kikwete was retiring in 2015. It ranked 117 out of 198 in 2019.

Kikwete, however, argued that Magufuli needed five more years to complete unfinished projects and start executing those stipulated in the 2020-2025 period. One of the programmes Tanzania must complete is satisfying the requirements to be formally declared a lower middle income economy.

At Babati Rural and Babati urban constituencies in Manyara region, Lissu separately told supporters he would want the law followed for party agents at polling stations to be sworn in, given access to polling stations, and given copies of results declaration forms.

Learning from past elections, including recent by-elections where opposition party agents were reportedly barred from taking an oath, the Chadema contender demanded that the situation be rectified ahead of elections.

"The law requires agents to be sworn in. Election officials will be an enemy if our agents are this time barred from taking the oath," he said. In Tanzania, party agents must be sworn in by representatives of the National Electoral Commission, before they can be allowed to access polling centres to monitor the polls. Sometimes, opposition politicians claim, the NEC officials play hide-and-seek and delay issuance of swearing certificates which effectively locks out the party agents.

The NEC is supposed to give agents documentation on results. But Lissu fears this, too, could be used to frustrate them.

The outspoken politician, who survived an assassination attempt in Dodoma on September 7 in 2017, said the documents would be undersupplied in order to frustrate agents fielded by opposition political parties. This would leave them without evidence on what transpired in the polling station, he said.

Mr Lissu, who embarked on campaigns by helicopter yesterday, could not address a rally in Karatu after arriving at the venue late. He promised to make it later.

Electoral agency

Meanwhile, Mr Lissu's running mate, Salum Mwalimu, Monday asked the Officer Commanding District for Karagwe to take legal action against the assistant returning officer for the area for failure to reinstate two councillorship aspirants for the opposition Chadema in line with a ruling from the National Electoral Commission (NEC).

The opposition party's aspirants for Kayanga and Chanika wards were to be dropped from the race but, following their appeals, NEC reinstated them.

However, the returning officer, who doubles as the District Executive Director for Karagwe, is hesitant to reinstate the two as ordered by the NEC and that the pair was still being prevented from conducting election campaigns.

"The OCD must take legal action against the retuning officer and, if our candidates are in possession of forged NEC letters, then let the OCD take legal action against them as well. Preventing them from campaigning while they have been genuinely endorsed by the NEC is not only a contravention of the law but also a deliberate attempt to put peace at stake," he said.

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