Of pretenders and ideological bedfellows‏ Prince M. Bagenda, 17th September 2010 Daily News An Election Manifesto is a tool which political parties use to market political, social and economic ideas to voters for the purpose of seeking the mandate to rule. It is a way of looking at the possibilities of the future, by seducing voters with the assuring message of hope and or change in the good or bad times that are lived through. For main actors the attempt is to make sense of the past present and future whence words speak louder than action. In the age of wisdom and the age of foolishness, we are living in (borrowing from the line of the opening paragraph of Tale of two Cities by Charles Dickens), it is in order to make a comparative review of the Election Manifestoes of major political parties. Here we see the opposition banking on antiincumbency agitation whilst the ruling party CCM presents its agenda by citing specific achievements and development challenges on the ground. CCM proposes to undertake policy innovations in order to generate stable expectations on the basis of new set of initiatives and incentives while the opposition, typical of the populist stance, makes social agenda the core of its policy proposals. Whereas Election Manifestoes should present to the political elites and electorate contrasting world outlook; in a situation where people live in a world they do not understand, positioning (ideological identity and commitment) ceases to be a strategic issue in the political debate. That does not mean that those in the political class who do not show their true colours are not ideologically aligned. Indeed liberal politicians seldom acknowledge their true ideological position, as do those in CHADEMA and CUF, who are aping free markets. A good many of them disguise their beliefs behind such labels as democrats, anti graft crusaders and redeemers of the disadvantaged masses from absolute poverty. In international intellectual and political circles, CUF and CHADEMA identify themselves as liberals and conservative parties. They want to speak for the masses; they want to liberate them and bring development to them. They do not want to engage people and let them go and take initiative of liberating themselves from poverty. Thus Tanzanian political parties carry undefined ideological quality, but fail to hide their true ideological content. When opposition parties indulge in personalizing the enemy, the most important question of who is the enemy of our development is relegated to the dustbin of history. Sincerely, the main political parties have not engaged Tanzanians in the debate of who is their immediate and long term enemy. CCMs Election Manifesto suggests that the ruling party has taken the social democratic route. One would have imagined that, with the support of a renowned Professor of Politics, Right Honorable Mwesiga Baregu, who very well knows his political stuff, CHADEMAS manifesto would provide the partys world outlook instead of treating ideology as a blind alley that must be avoided. Perusing through the first pages of CHADEMA Election Manifesto, one gets the impression that the authors went straight into the fight, without warming up and doing serious thinking about the significance of the document and the target audience. They start with telling the masses the obvious, instead of introducing themselves and their world outlook and making connectivity. The CHADEMA Election Manifesto is written as leaps of faith rooted in firm beliefs of the authors rather than a purposive document written to convey to all and sundry what CHADEMA stands for. If I may borrow from the partys One size fits- all slogan, Hatudanganyiki, I have to say sidanganyiki with the content and format of CHADEMAs Election Manifesto. CHADEMA fails to reveal itself, and articulate its understanding of the world and the effect of the dominance of the International Systems upon underdeveloped countries. In the past quarter century Tanzania opened up its economy to foreign trade and investment. We have witnessed a dramatic withdrawal of state participation in the economy. Do the Election Manifestoes of CUF and CHADEMA propose to reverse CCMs economic policy? It would be true to say that some advancement has been recorded in building productive capacity. The economy has been more integrated with the developed capitalist economies whilst at the same time Tanzania has been vulnerably exposed to adverse international economic conditions. If the two main opposition parties are going to make a reversal of the economic policy orientation pursued by CCM, what would be the role of the state in the oppositions new deal? On the other hand, by proposing to offer free services (health and education) to the entire population, without enhancing peoples productive capacity, Is it not true to say that in order to fulfill their plans they will deepen privatization of those services and channel public resources into the private sector, which is the ideological bedrock of CHADEMA? Interestingly, the introduction of its Election Manifesto, CHADEMA cities the case of President Kikwete failing to answer the question why Tanzania, despite its immense potential wealth in Natural resources is caught up in the quagmire of absolute poverty? CHADEMA is intimating that the President provided an ambiguous answer to the question. I am sure any serous person would find it difficult to instantly provide a satisfactory answer. However, an intelligent answer should by any means include an explanation about the fundamental happening in the world political economy whence knowledge and not simply abundance of natural resources, has became a source of value and a key factor in production. Most people think about privatization of material resources, but do not think about the privatization of knowledge that has taken place at the world scale. Profits and exploitation are partial explanation, but the whole explanation is found in profits, exploitation and also rent. Bemoaning the problem can help us much to understand our precarious existence. The introductory part of the manifesto and Policy Principles of CHADEMA are a narration of random ideas based on political cynicism and braggadocio, rather than conscious thought and structured issues which make an Election Manifesto what it should be and not what it is. The parameters for fundamental change are stated to be on leadership, political administrative reforms, change of mindset and system functional efficiency. No discussion about the external dimension of change! The nature of relations between the state and society are not introduced and discussed and the programme of engagement is not presented. The main agenda that dominates CHADEMA Election Manifesto is combating graft. The definition of graft is limited to the purpose of the Election Manifesto focusing on public sector corruption, excluding corporate corruption and the problem of money politics. One might be induced to think that the content of the manifesto is a litany of complaints rather than a conscious and logical thinking. Both CUF and CHADEMA could be termed as centre right parties, which are avoiding ideological labels because of their populist stance. There is a lot of confused thinking and populist orientation in their Election Manifesto. They are hiding their true ideological identity. Just to offer a gist of the revelatory nature of two main Election Manifestoes. Where as CCM reveals its world outlook by analyzing the International situation, opposition parties get into gear by attributing to the ruling party the poor state of the economy, poverty and corruption, missing out the connectivity of the external environment and how it impacts and actually conditions the internal environment. At this juncture, it would be in order to ask why opposition parties are turning to populism. Populism is a facet of mass politics beyond defined politics dominated by classes of owners (conservative and liberal) and classes of laboring masses (workers and peasants). In transitional societies faced with stark inequality, where the majority of ordinary citizens are poor and not politically competent to give their social and political rights some meaning through collective action, the political elites assume the responsibility of speaking on behalf of the dispossessed. Charismatic leaders and demagogues project themselves as redeemers and the only ones who can lead the revolution and or triumph in an election. Dr. Slaa has been projected as such a person and since his party CHADEMA is no match to CCM in terms of organization, mobilization and outreach, he is being banked on to produce the magic individually. Indeed, today some leaders in the political and social domains are urging voters to give consideration to individual competence rather than party affiliation in casting their votes, come October 31. How tenable is that proposition, considering that in Tanzania and elsewhere under representative democracy, individual politicians or independents have never constituted a critical mass in parliament? Some few years ago, an American Professor, Francis Fukuyama, wrote a very interesting book, The End of History and the Last Man. He argued that, the progression of human history as a struggle between ideologies is largely at an end, with the world settling on liberal democracy at the end of the Cold War and the fall of Berlin Wall in 1989. Fukuyama predicted the eventual global triumph of political and economic liberalism. He goes on to say that, the end point of mankinds ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government had been reached for people in development areas, the universalization of Western liberal democracy is an implantation of reform from above, lacking organic evolution. The political classes in developing countries including those in the ruling coalition and the opposition have embraced liberal democratic politics as the only course open; driving the majority of ordinary citizens to conform and move with the tide. The saying that, people live in the world they do not understand is true to the core. Given that the problem of poverty and underdevelopment are recognized by the political public as main defining features the precarious existence of the masses of the people in the country, some creative imagination need to be put to test on how political leaders of parties and Movements can put their heads together to write The Manifesto of the People? It is ironic that some years ago when Prof. Sethi Chachage was their mentor, leading NGOs like TGNP and TAMWA used to attack neo-liberalism (as pursued by the ruling party CCM) but to-day they keep quiet about the oppositions embracing of neo-liberal populism in their Election Manifestoes! What if contestant parties pull their faculties together and produce one fine document, with each party starting its selected one or two issues on priority basis and treating them diligently for ordinary people to rediscover themselves? Our main political parties are different,yes, but only in colours and rhetoric. In the wake of globalization, they have abandoned ideological struggle with fate. All embrace liberal democracy after all. The main political parties have launched their Election Manifestoes for 2010 General Elections. They seem to be ideological bedfellows rather than being class enemies. Liberal preferences do not reflect pro-people ideological commitment, but only translate into general platform politics which in reality can not be sustained but are used as vote-getters.