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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Series 2: ElectionsTanzania2015: Reflections on "Safari Ya Matumaini" event by #Lowassa!

By Aikande Kwayu
Ok…so I put aside my students’ essays that I had planned to finish marking today and decided to watch Mr. Edward Lowassa dramatic and buoyant announcement of his presidential race. I don’t have a TV in my tiny apartment so I had to rely on livestreaming from Wogmedia- thanks to my sis, Alilya, who sent me the link. It was not clear throughout…but I only missed a little – the Bishop Gwajima part…the moment he finished the streaming kicked back clearly.

There were lots of things in the event that I can write about here, but I want to reflect on Kingunge Ngombale-Mwiru’s speech. Mr. Kingunge is a veteran CCM elder. His presence in the event is undeniable a big sign that should not be ignored. Leave that aside, Mr. Kingunge spoke of things that, for me, underscored the very nature of CCM as a party- i.e. its socialist gene. As much as CCM has led a ‘market based economy’ country with adoption of liberal policies under its regimes from early 1990s, the embedded ideas that formed the party have not changed much. In Political Science studies of institutionalism we call this “path dependency”.

Mr. Kingunge spoke of “kuandaliwa kwa kiongozi” – i.e. “a leader prepared by the party”…this was a strike for me because socialist parties all over the world “prepare” successors for a very long term – see CCP of China for instance (remember the party is also very close to CCP “all weather friends”). Or rather they share such rhetoric. Mzee Kingunge also highlighted the “link” among key party leaders with Mr. Lowassa – saying, he is the same generation of party cadets with Mr. Kinana (the party Secretary General) and Mr. Kikwete (the party chairman and the current/outgoing President of the country) who were trained on party ideas since TANU era. So they have that party DNA and gene that I am thinking about here. He qualified his arguments by reminding the public of his age and knowledge about party and party cadres. Such are not light linkages. Mr. Kingunge has also underscored the eligibility of Lowassa with the current party priorities – including the union and also the proposed constitutions.

Also related to my interests and research that I did last year over the #Katiba Debates (soon my book chapter on the “Uses of Nyerere” will be published in a forthcoming book and I will be presenting the same at the African Studies Association Annual Conference in Atlanta this November) Mr. Kingunge could not do without mentioning Mwalimu Nyerere. He talked of the leadership qualities as taught by Mwl. Nyerere and tried to show how Mr. Lowassa fits into those. In my chapter, I bring in Marie-Audie Fourer argument and argue that “…leads us to what Marie-Aude Fouéré says of Nyerere being used as a “moral toolbox” in which people draw ideas, values, notions to debate about politics and morality in contemporary Tanzania.” Thus we’ve seen this today again as Mr. Kingunge was trying to justify the eligibility of Lowassa to run the country in relations to Nyerere’s ideas.

Away from that, the endorsement from other party members (leaders and even former Ministers) and religious leaders was also a point to note.

Nevertheless, to much disappointment, the public was waiting at least for a thorough explanation of Richmond- a saga that tarnished Lowassa image and still needs explanation. It is only fair to the public to hear of that explanation since it was the very thing that cost him his highest office- premier.

Well to note is, Mr. Kingunge talked about reconciliation within the party- may be that was the “answer” to the most waited Richmond explanation.

But I think it will serve Mr. Lowassa best if he comes open about Richmond…It’s my hope that the rest of CCM presidential nomination candidates will not shy away but come forth boldly and press for more answers and dialogue before early July when the party will make its decision.

We the public will be weighing! …. I hope…and I will be observing…and occasionally write my views as we await more drama in the next month.

And please…let’s not forget to think like “dolphins” …see Series 1.

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