Though Tanzania has always wrongly been regarded as a strong and peaceful country in the region, this does no longer hold water thanks to what transpired in the just ended elections. Recent sham and rigged general elections opened everything bare as it told the whole hidden story behind this former doyen of peace and tranquility in the region. Marred by violence, allegations of bribery, and other irregularities, the elections left the country paralyzed and tarnished.
Up till now, the presidential candidate who secured the second position in the already announced results, Dr. Wilbrod Slaa of Chama cha Demokrasia na Maedeleo (CHADEMA) has nary conceded defeat. He even snubbed the much-delayed announcement. His argument is the elections were rigged and this was done by National Intelligence Service.
So too is the take of some observers who said categorically that it was not free and fair. The elections were not free and fair by all standards. How could it be with the turn out of just 8,398,394 equivalent to 42.8% of the 20,137,303 registered voters? Kikwete scooped 5,276,827 votes, equivalent to 61.17% as opposed to the landslide of over 80% he enjoyed when he first came to power in 2005. Dr. Slaa came second with 2,271,941 votes, equivalent to 26.34%, whilst the third Pro-CCM contender Professor Ibrahim Lipumba of Civic United Front (CUF) did away with 695,667, equivalent to eight percent. Other four contenders from small parties shared the rest.
Among the reasons that caused low turnout was a reported plot by the National Electoral Commission (NEC), whereby many young voters did not find their names at polling stations. Much affected areas involved opposition strong hold in big cities. Apart from that, there were delays and logistical handicaps and irregularities almost everywhere.
Sensing the danger after Dr Slaa asked the Pro-Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) NEC to stop announcing doctored results, Mr Kikwete (whose victory is attributed to gross rigging), was hurriedly sworn in a day after NEC declared him a winner with a slim winning margin though. The ruling CCM, despite all the massive rigging (it did not recant), saw over 50 of its MPs lose, including five ministers, prominent being that of Home Affairs Lawrence Masha, who also is a friend and partner of Kikwete’s son.
Violence was reported in various places, whereby people were injured and houses set on fire. During and after campaigns five people were attacked by machetes in Mara and many more in Busanda. Over ten houses were set on fire in Shinyanga, not to mention chaos in Mwanza, Mbeya, Kagera, Morogoro, Kigoma and Dar es salaam where Field Force Unit (FFU) used tear gas to curb demonstrators.
His swearing in was attended by and large by tainted rulers like him. Among them were Robert Mugabe, Joseph Kabila and Rupia Banda. No reasons were offered as to why all neighbouring rulers did not attend the swearing ceremony. Remember, Tanzania used to broker peace for other countries in the region. We remember how Kikwete was in the forefront in Kenya and Zimbabwe in the effort which brought about Governments of National Unity (GNU). Recently the same thing was reached in Zanzibar but not under the efforts of Kikwete, but due to the fear of chaos that would lead perpetrators to be summoned to The Hague.
Many people who did not know what was actually going on in Tanzania used to wrongly look at her as an ideal example of independence and democracy. Many would refer to her whenever they had a problem, say to do with tribalism, without knowing it does exist in the same.
In the just ended dirty campaigns, religion, nepotism and tribalism took a fore stand. Dr. Slaa was accused of being a Christian who was sent by Vatican despite quitting from the cloak many years ago. Muslims campaigned openly for Kikwete a Muslim. Another undemocratic anathema that was experienced in the campaigns is the use of paid-up tabloids to unleash abuses and fabrications against Kikwete’s arch foe namely Dr Slaa. So too police force was used to intimidate people as it happened in various campaign meetings.
For the past five years Kikwete was in power, his government was accused of many wrong doings including mega scandals such as robbing over $100,000,000 from the Central Bank under the External Payment Arrears (EPA) account, whose money went to the campaigns of Mr Kikwete. He had nary repudiated these damning allegations.
Tanzania boast of having more resources and fertile land in the region. Ironically though, Tanzania lags behind economically compared to other East African countries, thanks to the corruption and maladministration of which most is attributed to Kikwete’s regime.
Another shocking scandal that saw a former Prime Minister who is among Kikwete’s consgliore, Edward Lowassa booted out is Richmond. In this scandal, billions of schillings were stolen under the pretext of providing emergency power utility that never was. So too, Kikwete’s family especially his wife, Salma and son Ridhiwan are alleged to usurp a lot of his power so as to even bring their friends into government business. They were recently seen vehemently campaigning for him using public funds and resources.
In a nutshell, CCM is slowly and gravely losing its wand that saw it rule the country since independence. Tanzanians are vehemently agitating for changes after being tired of the status quo. Like Kenyans, they badly want a new constitution. One eminent question still remains unanswered: Is Tanzania going to the dogs?