Elections 2010 Slaa should lose graciously and live to fight another day


JF-Expert Member
Nov 22, 2007
Jerry Okungu

I have observed these Tanzania elections with a lot of interest as an East African and wrote about them in the past in various newspapers in this region.

The reason Tanzania’s elections this year interested me was because I saw many similarities with other elections held in Kenya and Uganda in the last two decades. The parallels have been too real to ignore.

In recent articles, in Tanzania’s local press, Dr. Wilbroad Slaa was quoted as having hinted that once elected President of Tanzania, he would provide equal opportunities for business to thrive unlike the current practice where business people supported CCM to safeguard their business interests.

This is the kind of promise that most popular opposition leaders usually give to a disgruntled electorate in order to convince them that the opposition is keen to bridge the gap between the super-rich and the lowly members of society. What is now coming out of Tanzania is whether the Tanzanian voters bought Slaa’s promises considering that they have come across such rhetoric time and time again in their past with very little change in their lives.

Slaa’s presidential ambition was boosted by rumours circulating in Tanzania that earlier opinion polls were in his favour though in the dying days of the campaign, things seemed to have changed. However, when the results started trickling in, Chadema claimed that there had been malpractices in conducting this year’s elections; that CCM, NEC and security arms of government had conspired to hand victory to the ruling CCM.

Much as we may want to listen to the aggrieved party, the history of political contests in East Africa has been with us for a long time with similar scenarios. In Kenya, whenever an opinion poll result was released that ranked various parties and their candidates, the losers always claimed bias and influence as the victors got into a celebration. We as the political class have never embraced let alone trusted opinion polling as part and parcel of the process to gauge political performance either by our parties or party leaders.

In Uganda; a few years ago, it looked like Dr. Kizza Besigye was the most popular presidential candidate after he fell out with Yoweri Museveni’s NRM in the early 2000s. When he finally lost the vote, there was a claim of a rigged election before he fled to South Africa claiming that his life was in danger only to return to Uganda in 2006 to contest another election.

Ten years later, Besigye is still leading the opposition with no prospect of ever wresting power from the NRM leader. In Kenya, we witnessed an epoch in our political history two decades ago when some of the most colourful and charismatic political icons teamed up to throw KANU out of power. The opposition party FORD was a spectacle to behold when the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga tried to dislodge KANU from power.

The biggest rallies in various parts of Kenya were all pointer to the demise of Daniel arap Moi and KANU. It was not to be. Petty rivalries, individual greed and ethnic chauvinism broke the FORD movement apart before KANU hanged them separately. Could this be the disease that has denied the Tanzania opposition parties victory?

As things stand now, Dr. Slaa’s Chadema is losing the elections to the CCM and it is time he remembered that an old party like the CCM that has been used to power for close to 50 years needed more that rhetoric to defeat at national elections.

When a ruling party faces a real threat of losing an election in any part of the world, it will stop at nothing to win the contest. In Tanzania, just like in Kenya and Uganda, the business community may not be overtly visible in determining the outcome of an election; but because they are a crucial part of the establishment, any development that may seem to disturb the equilibrium of things will not sit well with them.

Remember, they are already in the comfort zone and would rather things remain the way they are.

Now that it is almost a foregone conclusion that Kikwete is winning, the only recourse open to the losers is to go to court and challenge the results; a process that may take years to conclude. Meanwhile, JK will be comfortably sitting pretty at State House pulling more strings. Can Dr. Slaa be a good loser and live to fight another day?

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