Discovering Kikwete: Is he a brand politician? | JamiiForums | The Home of Great Thinkers

Dismiss Notice
You are browsing this site as a guest. It takes 2 minutes to CREATE AN ACCOUNT and less than 1 minute to LOGIN

Discovering Kikwete: Is he a brand politician?

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by ByaseL, Jun 16, 2009.

  1. B

    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
    Messages: 2,223
    Likes Received: 22
    Trophy Points: 135
    In marketing branding reigns supreme. Branding is one of the most effective marketing tool (not the only one) used in business for marketing and selling products. Branding is first and foremost about recognition and acceptability. When customers, for instance, fall over each other to buy a Mercedes Benz, a Calvin Klein item, Coca Cola drink or Kilimanjaro lager, etc, it is possibly more to do with a “brand” than other product attributes. This, however, does not necessarily mean that these brand merchandise, for example, are the best in the marketplace. It is quite possible that there could even be better products out there but because they lack brand recognition they are not sought after that much.

    In the human world we have brand personalities who command a lot marketing power but in actual fact may not be the best. Examples abound. Take the former Spice Girls of United Kingdom for starters. This was a group of four British girls (including Victoria Beckham) who took the music world off its feet in the 1990s. It is arguably said that the spice girls were quite successful as a “brand” and less as a singing outfit. In other words their record sales were boosted by the “euphoria” about the spice girls than the appeal (if you like) of their songs!

    Soccer Superstar David Beckham is more of “brand” than a real soccer sensation in the likes of Pele, Maradona or Zenadine Zidane. Beckham is reportedly earning more than any footballer in the world at his current American soccer club namely Galaxy in the USA. In fact Galaxy lured Beckham from his former club, Real Madrid not because of his soccer talents he could bring to the club but it was anticipated that because of his brand power he could invigorate the soccer interest in the USA which is currently lacking. If my memory serves me right, actor Will Smith has never taken a prestigious Oscar prize home but his “brand” supremacy makes him the highest paid actor in Hollywood. The list goes on and on. By the way this is not to take anything away from these great personalities. Indeed what they have achieved individually is no mean feat. However, it simply underscores the fact that some people can be more successful as a “brand” and not what they can actually deliver in their actual work.

    This brings me to politics. The recent visit to the USA by President Jakaya Kikwete has raised a lot of eye brows. The local newspapers have reported that while President Kwikwete was in the USA for a non-state visit he was invited to pay a courtesy call to the White House. This act alone was enough to send political jitters and cause tantrum particularly in Kenya with the Kenyan press going berserk, screaming and cursing! Reason? Why should Kikwete be the first African President to have a “cup of tea” with USA President Barack Obama? Why not President Kibaki or even Prime Minister Raila Odinga( who happened to be in the USA at the same time) who should automatically be given the priority of meeting the USA President whom they consider to be a man from their soil? Does President Kikwete merit this honour in the first place?

    In my view the Kenyan Press was just created a storm in a tea cup for nothing. For many, Kikwete’s visit to the White House was not a complete surprise. Over a decade Mr. Kikwete has created for himself a niche on the international political landscape. Firstly, as a foreign minister of Tanzania (1995-2005) , arguably one of the African countries highly regarded in the world, Mr. Kikwete’s face is very familiar in the corridors of power the world over compared to that of his counterpart across the border. I believe we are the same hymn page with our Kenyan friends on this particular aspect.

    Secondly, unlike the Kenyan President our President is a globe trotting socialite. President Kikwete’s critics accuse him of leading a jet-set kind of life at the expense pressing domestic issues. However, State House and his dyed-in-the-wool supporters are adamant that indeed Kikwete’s foreign trips are not in vain after all. That while he is abroad the President is not on a sojourn as such but he is always busy passing around a “bowl” whose benefits are obvious for all who have “eyes” to see. We can debate the merits and demerits of President Kiwete’s frequent trips abroad until the cows come home without reaching a consensus. However, me thinks that these trips have helped Mr. Kikwete to develop a strong rapport and network (mtandao!) with his counterparts around the world which has gradually given him a recognition of some sort. Kikwete is now a kind of politician whom world leaders would like to meet when such a chance arises. In my view that is how President Kikwete found himself at the Oval office, so our Kenyan compatriots should not loose sleep over this.

    On the domestic scene, Mr. Kikwete’s likeability and charm is simply mind boggling. Listen to this. In 1995 Mr. Kikwete missed the Presidency just by a whisker! From relative obscurity Kikwete suddenly become a front runner during 1995 CCM primaries in Dodoma to determine the CCM presidential candidate for 1995 general elections. In the first round he trounced seasoned politicians including former Prime Minister Clleopa Msuya and Benjamin Mkapa only to be persuaded by former President J.K Nyerere to step aside. The rest as they say is history. This alone was enough to leave political observers completely bewildered!

    Mr. Kikwete is a patient bird. He bid for his time and during 2005 CCM primaries fought a mother of all political battles. With former Prime Minister and once upon a time eminent person, John Malecela down and out of the race to determine the presidential candidate for CCM for 2005 general elections, Kikwete not only outwitted former Prime Minister who never made it to final round but was triumphant by giving his two opponents a bloody nose. Both Ambassador Salim H. Salim and Hon Mr. Mark Mwandosya came a distant first and second runner up respectively in terms of casted votes. How could Kikwete edge out a political pedigree like Dr. Salim? Granted, there are serious allegations of mud slinging and other under hand methods during the campaign but can this alone explain a wide margin of the votes between the victor and the vanquished? Your guess is as good as mine.

    Enter 2005 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. The debate-shy CCM candidate (Kikwete) even went on to dodge the Presidential Debate on very flimsy excuses. Critics attacked him of fearing to take the heat from his fiery and eloquent opponents like Prof. Ibrahim Lipumba, Augustine Mrema and Freeman Mbowe. This weakness alone could have been sufficient to blemish his chances of getting a clear cut victory. Well, not according to the Tanzania electorates because Mr. Kikwete went on to win this election big time. He got a landslide of over 80%, just to be precise! The results shocked and awed political observers. Was this victory a product of Kikwete’s political astuteness, hard work or something else?

    However, the opposition and critics contend that Kikwete and CCM stole 2005 election through bribery and rampant misuse of public resources. Although there is some merit on these allegations but this could only be one of the factors in Kikwete’s favour, not the decisive one. Truth to be told, the elections polls had consistently indicated that Kikwete was heading for a landslide victory. Part of answers to his conquest, by and large, lies somewhere else as we shall discern shortly.

    Fast forward. Assured of mass support and riding on immense popularity, President Kikwete entered State House with gusto and his political engine machine firing on all six cylinders. Kikwete hit the ground running and in a short span of time his administration was able to clamp down on armed robbery. A crime which had been a menace during President Mkapa’s tenure. The President went into overdrive mode by launching a major campaign to raise funds to build more class rooms for secondary school pupils who have hitherto missed out due to lack of facilities. Everything seemed to be in tandem with his new rule book entitled “new vigour, new zeal and new speed”.

    But alas! This was short lived because severe drought struck soon thereafter resulting into serious scarcity of food and water in the country. The country was plunged into darkness and industrial production slumped to low levels due to inadequate electricity. As the say, misfortunes don’t come in singles. The administration’s endeavors to acquire emergency power to alleviate the power crisis was bungled and one thing lead to another until the buck stopped at the Prime Minister. As a result Prime Minister Lowassa was went packing, unceremoniously, so to speak.
    Without his most right hand man, President was badly handicapped. Dear reader let us pause and reflect for a moment. President Kikwete without Lowassa at his beck and call is like the biblical Moses leading the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land of Canaan without Aaron. Just imagine if Aaron went missing at the critical moment at Mount Sinai! Yes, you guessed right because it would have been disastrous for Moses. No wonder the promised “better life for all Tanzanians” ( manna from heaven ?) has turned into a pipedream because Lowassa (JK’s Aaron? ) is “missing in action” . The ensuing corruption scandals exposed by the opposition has, to a great extent, rolled Kikwete’s administration into the mud. As a result of the foregoing the population is apprehensive and disenchanted with his administration’s performance this far.

    However, according the recent research done by Research And Education for Democracy in Tanzania ( REDET) found out that the ruling party CCM has gradually (since 2005 general elections) been losing ground in terms of popularity to the opposition because the population is generally getting disillusioned by its policies and conduct. Similarly, Kikwete’s administration especially his ministers have come under spotlight for not being able to perform and deliver. Ironically, while Kikwete’s party and ministers are getting a flak from the public, the President’s popularity has somehow remained unfazed!

    According to REDET, President Kikwete, for good measure, would in fact win landslide if the presidential elections were held at this point in time! Question is: Why is President Kikwete still popular with the public while his party, CCM and his ministers are doing so badly? It is simple. Kikwete has over the time created an image of acceptability and adorability forte for himself. Results or no results, love or loathe him, Kikwete is a “brand” in himself which resonates very well with the public mood at large. Kikwete is a brand politician, no more no less and that what makes him tick.That is why, in my view, if Kikwete stands again on a CCM ticket he will win 2010 elections hands down. Not because he can deliver but due to his brand power.

    Byase Luteke
  2. M

    MzeePunch JF-Expert Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Joined: Jun 8, 2009
    Messages: 1,412
    Likes Received: 18
    Trophy Points: 135
    What are you trying to prove?
  3. M

    Meshili Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Joined: Feb 19, 2009
    Messages: 15
    Likes Received: 0
    Trophy Points: 0
    Wow! This blogger can real punch! Exactly. What are you trying to say.. or prove?
  4. B

    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
    Messages: 2,223
    Likes Received: 22
    Trophy Points: 135
    If you read between the lines the answer in paragraphs 2 & 3 of the article.
  5. S

    Son of Alaska JF-Expert Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Joined: Jun 2, 2008
    Messages: 2,813
    Likes Received: 102
    Trophy Points: 0
    even if you byasel stand for the tanzanian presidency on a CCM ticket,you will win hands down-if you had said CCM is the brand then at least we would have understood
  6. zomba

    zomba JF-Expert Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Joined: Nov 27, 2007
    Messages: 17,081
    Likes Received: 49
    Trophy Points: 0

    JMK is the Best ever
  7. Kilasara

    Kilasara JF-Expert Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Joined: Dec 21, 2008
    Messages: 578
    Likes Received: 5
    Trophy Points: 0
    Byase Luteke, you can be complemented for writing a well argued case: Is Kikwete a "brand" politician?

    You have pointed out that in 2005 Kikwete apparently won by 80%. And you have properly asked was this because of astuteness, hard work or something else?

    I do not know if you live in Tanzania or abroad. But those of us who live here and followed closely how the 2005 Presidential Campaign was organized , financed , conducted and run, can proffer some answers. What has come to light regarding that campaign has also provided some indication of the trend of events.

    Let me categorically state that as far as the opposition to Kikwete was concerned, only a handful of the candidates presented a real challenge. Even if probably only two of the candidates could be ranked as intellectually more presentable and effective politicians than Kikwete, their parties did not possess the grassroots base that CCM had established since pre-Independence days.

    None of the opposition parties could for example, field parliamentary candidate in every constituency in Tanzania. There were therefore about ten or more CCM parliamentary candidates who were returned unopposed. In this country, the stealing of votes cast at election has become a culture or tradition. At every voting station a party must therefore have a very vigillant agent to prevent theft. It is no wonder therefore that where there was no parliamentary candidate opposing CCM, the whole electorate (100% of Registered voters) turned up to vote for the CCM presidential candidate! Even the sick were not recognized by the so-called "NEC" election supervisors.

    The absurdity of this rigging was that in wards where no opposition candidate stood and therefore had no agent at the voting station, even close relatives of the Opposition presidential candidates were shown as having cast their votes for CCM. This was theft without much intelligence.

    What I am trying to say is that the Opposition parties MUST GO DOWN TO THE GRASSROOTS LEVEL if they want to win. And they must also unite to form a single strong party or otherwise wait until ccm breaks up into warring political factions. This latter phenomenon may not be too far by the look of things. So optimistic Tanzanians, bide your time.

    It is not out of spite that I have remarked above that a few Opposition Party candidates were of better political and intellectual calibre or mettle than what CCM presented. Even during the 2005 Campaign, CCM didn't dare to allow him to come forward to the T.V. presidential debate which had been established by Benjamin Mkapa as routine in the previous elections of 1995 and 2000.

    Exhaustion in the gruelling task of fighting for a national office was expected. But we noticed the CCM candidate actually collapsed on stage in one ( or two?) of his public addresses. We sympathised. ? But has this incident been the cause of our leader invariably prefering to address large audiences whilst seated? JF please find out for me.

    Now to come to our question at hand: "Is J.K. a 'brand' politician?''. It appears from the reactions of some supporters of ccm above that they think he won because CCM supported him. He himself has branded his team as "Mtandao". And in my brief note above, I have shown that added to the foul play perpetrated and the environment and circumstances of the nascent opposition, brand or no brand, J.K. won.

    The crucial question now to ask is "How about 2010?".
  8. Bluray

    Bluray JF-Expert Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Joined: Mar 25, 2008
    Messages: 3,446
    Likes Received: 31
    Trophy Points: 135
    To call kikwete a "brand" president carries the suggestion that he is being carefully presented with great and calculated PR effort.

    This is hardly the case.

    Kikwete is more of serendipity president than a brand president, and this unfortunate serendipity is vastly aided by the general ignorance of the Tanzanian people and the immense reverence to the office of the president.

    Kikwete survives not because he is so good at presenting his image, but because there is nobody to seriously challenge him and take him to task, with all the problems under his watch.

    One can argue that, the Kikwete campaign can be said to have been ruthlessly shrewd. To me it was perceived to be hardly PR conscious, in the sense of even not trying to fake modestyand therefore not branded , who needs PR in Tanzania anyway?

    To me a branded campaign and presidency goes toe to toe in answering issues and allegations, forming commission to investigate the finances of a commission investigating another commission is not exactly my idea of branding.

    Would an image conscious president appoint the disasters that are Luhanjo and Rweyemamu to be at his control centre and act as his mouthpiece?

    But in Tanzania everything can be twisted, maybe this is a Tanzanian version of "branding". Not impressive at all.
  9. B

    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Jun 17, 2009
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
    Messages: 2,223
    Likes Received: 22
    Trophy Points: 135

    I wish to thank Kilasara and Bluray for their contribution to this debate thanks to JamiiForums. The is a beauty of an intractive medium like JF because through exchange of ideas we learn and entertain.

    Kilasara is quite spot on the weakenesses of the opposition which is a big handcap for competitive politics in Tanzania. However, there must be something that is not very clear to most of us in Tanzania politics. For instance how come that former Pesident Mkapa did not scoop "ushindi wa kishindo" during 1995 national elections in spite of being baby-carried and spoon fed by the late popular late President J.K Nyerere? And let us remember this was the first multi-paty election since the 1960s and yet the nascent opposition in general put up a good show which in my view was much better than 2005? Was this a result of Mrema factor at that time (1995)?

    Frankly speaking Kikwete had more or less the same presidential opponents in 2005 like Mkapa had in 2000 elections. If you minus the also-runs like Rev. Mtikila, Late Prof. Shayo the new comer of some political substance was Freeman Mboe. Otherwise Prof Lipumba was there and as usual Mrema ( although he had run out of gas) was also there. Question is; how come Kikwete emerged quite strongly against the combined opposition than Mkapa was able to garner in 2000?

    I agree that CCM 2005 campaign was well greased through resources that could have been obtained through unorthrodox means but my gut feeling is that this was not the first and only time CCM was cheating. In my view CCM's grip on power was under threat in 1995 by Mrema than 2005 and yet the CCM and state machine could not deliver "Ushindi wa Kishindo" in 1995. What was behind 2005 massive victory besides dirt money and opposition weakness?

    Let us be candid. President Kikwete track record is clear and I dare say it is quite modest.He is not a blessed orator like Nyerere or Museveni for that matter. Neither is he a work-alcoholic or an insiprational leader say like Obama. His Government has been stumbling from one scandal/misfortune to another and his party and ministers are being booed by the public . However, in spite of all this excess baggage JK is carrying he still remains one of the most popular president I have seen in recent times.

    Ndio maana nimejaribu kufanya analogy hapo juu kwamba pamoja na mambo mengine mnayoeleza Kikwete niseme ana "ngekewa" fulani ya kupedwa na watu. Mifano yangu ya kina Spice Girls na Beckham inalenga huko. Beckham hajawai kupata tuzo kubwa katika uchezaji wake lakini ana "ngekewa" ya kupendwa. Ndio brand power. Nadiriki kusema hata kwamba JK akiamua kuitosa CCM (Kama Mutharika) atashinda kwa kishindo kwa kile ninachokiona ni "Brand Power" yake.
  10. Bluray

    Bluray JF-Expert Member

    Jun 18, 2009
    Joined: Mar 25, 2008
    Messages: 3,446
    Likes Received: 31
    Trophy Points: 135
    The reason why Mkapa did not emerge with a landslide lies in his metarmophosis into the candidacy.Let's face it, policy wonk as he was , Mkapa was not a darling with the party bigwigs and carried himself rather too stiff, possibly due to the arrogance of being "well read and a bona fide Tanzanian intellectual" as opposed to the likes of the "vilazas" like Kikwete.

    Kikwete in so far as selling himself as a humble, trouble free, people person leader, was very successful.It also has to be said that the 1995 election, being the first under multipartism, was unusually spirited.This fact, coupled with the shoving down of an unpopular candidate down Tanzanians throats by Nyerere (Mkapa) proved a hard, if eventually successfuly, sell.Within and without CCM people wanted a more youthful leadership, and indeed were swaying towards nominating Kikwete, until the puppet masters - remote controlled by Nyerere, the master puppet master himself - decided to change the rules in the middle of the game, when they saw kikwete and not Mkapa was leading their nomination process. the Kikwete-Lowassa alliance only lost steam when Mkapa allied with the Zanzibari delegates after a cabal lockdown guaranteeing the vice presidency to Dr. Omar Ali Juma in exchange for the Zanzibari votes. Some hitherto prevailing confrontations between Kikwete and the Zanzibari helped cemented the Mkapa/ Zanzibari coalition, a Kikwete presidency appeared doomed, a Mkapa presidency, short of Ben peeing on his pants publicly after one too many of his beloved Scotches, appeared imminent.

    So there was a general air of Mkapa usurping the presidency from Kikwete's mouth, and this generated a great sense of sympathy towards Kikwete from the public to the extent he was almost a "president in waiting" much like -although to a les obvious degree- Jacob Zuma was expected.There was a sense of "Kikwete's turn is coming in 2005" that made the official and unofficial rounds of Tanzanian political intrigue.

    So to answer your question on why Mkapa did not gather as many votes as Kikwete, we can conclude by naming, among others, the spirit of a first multiparty election, the top down shoving down Tanzanians throat nature of the Mkapa candidacy, the arrogant "policy wonk" elitist personality of Mkapa and a generally stronger opposition can be attributed.

    Kikwete in contrast, though an airhead relatively speaking (to say he is modestly endowed is in itself being modest), is a people person with unexplainable charms (is this the base of the "branding" theory?), had the sympathy factor from being usurped by Mkapa (he further added to his political capital by waiting gracefully for 10 years without giving Mkapa problems, Tanzanians love a humble great man, or in this case the perception of one anyway). And quite frankly Kikwete is more of a political animal than Mkapa even though I would not go as far as saying what he lacks in being a policy wonk he makes up for in being a political animal. his below the belt Machiavellian tactics, from the photoshoping of Salim Ahmed Salim images (carried by Emmanuel Nchimbi) to the politically motivated and frustrating highway robberry (literally) and alleged rape of the wife of one prominent contender from the CCM nomination was a forecaster of a politician who needed to go to Ikulu so bad that he abandoned all principles of decency.Once he got there, his mission was accomplished, now he does not know what to do.

    But still I cannot see branding. A rightly branding campaign and presidency would have evolved to disseminate cover ups, spins and all imaginable propaganda to preserve the positive image of its strongman.

    The Kikwete presidency is so busy plundering it hardly has any time for branding.Just look and listen to the president and his cabinet, the Mkulos, Sofia Simbas, Mkuchika etc.One may easily be forgiven for thinking they represent different governments, hardly branding.They don't even have consensus and the term "collective responsibility" might as well be ancient Greek to them.

    Can you really call this branding?
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2009
  11. Mag3

    Mag3 JF-Expert Member

    Jun 18, 2009
    Joined: May 31, 2008
    Messages: 9,094
    Likes Received: 6,188
    Trophy Points: 280
    Yeah, agreed - especially in a country so plagued by abject poverty and ignorance. With the Tanzanian populace, CCM can sell anything - they did in 2005, with Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.
    CCM is the brand party.