Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Who will win Tanzania election ?

Who’ll win the Tanzania election? Lowassa by a landslide, say the taxi drivers of Dar
This was not a scientific poll and the results represent purely anecdotal evidence.
Edward Lowassa.
Edward Lowassa.

In Summary
This was not a scientific poll and the results represent purely anecdotal evidence gathered from randomly sampled taxi drivers.
Say what you like about Mwalimu Julius Nyerere but his biggest legacy is that when you ask people in Tanzania for their political opinions, you don’t have to inquire after their ethnicity as well.

Opinion polling in Kenya is difficult because you have to ensure you don’t have too many members of any of the big five ethnic groups as to leave you with a hopelessly biased outcome.

It’s different in Tanzania. Religion, regionalism and ethnicity, while undoubtedly factors in electoral decisions, do not represent the overwhelming consideration in choosing who to vote for in the way that ethnicity shapes the decisions of Kenyan voters.

The biggest rally opposition leader Edward Lowassa has held so far was in Mwanza, in the Sukuma heartland of his rival, John Magufuli, where ecstatic crowds washed the tarmac road before his convoy passed through.

Mr Lowassa is a Maasai, a group considered too small to produce a credible presidential candidate in Kenya. In this respect, at least, Tanzania has a more mature political culture than many democracies.

So who do the taxi drivers of Dar es Salaam (the traditional guides to the local mood in any city) expect to be the next occupant of ikulu after the election on October 25?

There is no doubt about it, said each of the nine drivers I have travelled with in the last few days in this coastal city.

Lowassa is winning. Why? “Haogopi mtu,” offered Juma. “Akiona mtu amefanya makosa anamfukuza hapo hapo. Tunamuita mtu wa maamuzi magumu. Contractor akifanya masihara kwenye kandarasi anafukuzwa hapo hapo. Watu walipoona vile alitenda akiwa waziri mkuu wakasema, dah! Huyu tukimpatia urais je? (He is fearless. When he spots an errant official, he sacks them on the spot. We call him the man who makes tough decisions. If a road contractor is not fulfilling their obligations he cancels the contract immediately. When people examined his record as prime minister they thought, what if we make this man president?)”


What are the locals most frustrated about in the ruling party? Many of the cab drivers said they simply want change.

“Miaka hamsini hakuna mabadiliko,” said Hemed. “Huyu anachukua anamwachia mwingine, hivyo hivyo. Wananchi wanaendelea kupata taabu wachache wakitajirika (People want change. The incumbents have been in power for too long, benefiting only a narrow elite).”

But isn’t this a view held only in the cities while CCM has historically been strong in the rural areas?

“Hapana,” insisted Mohammed. “Hisia za mabadiliko zimetambaa nchi nzima. Lowassa watu wanampenda. Kitendo cha kukataliwa kule CCM kimewauma sana watu. Kimewauma rohoni. (No. The desire for change has spread across the country. The fact they denied the popular candidate, Lowassa, the ticket has caused a lot of anguish.)”

Why is Lowassa popular? “Ni mtu anajali maskini,” said Bakari. “Alipokuwa waziri mkuu alihakikisha mtoto wa maskini pia anaweza kuenda shule ya kata. Sasa hivi ukiandikiwa dawa kwenye hospitali ya serikali unaambiwa uende ukanunue dukani. (He cares about the poor. During his time as PM, he ensured students from low-income households could access high school. Now, taxpayers are suffering and there’s no medicine in the hospitals.)”

So will CCM concede defeat if they lose? “CCM haiwezi shindwa kwa karatasi,” said Abbas. “Wale ni mafia. Watataja matokeo hivi kisha mtu wao aapishwe hapo hapo. Kwani Kenya ilikuwa vipi? Lakini vijana wa Tanzania wa siku hizi si wale ungewanunua kwa T-shirt na kofia. Wamechoka na wanataka mabadiliko. Mimi naona mahakama ya kimatafa ikihamia Tanzania msimu huu. (CCM can’t accept defeat. They will announce a result favouring them and swear in their man, foreclosing any debate. That’s what happened in Kenya in 2007. But the young people are tired and want change. Their loyalty can no longer be purchased for the price of a T-shirt or cap. I see the ICC having to move in here very soon.)”


Terms and conditions under which this survey data is consumed:

*This was not a scientific poll and the results represent purely anecdotal evidence gathered from randomly sampled taxi drivers.

*If the outcome is different on October 25, I can always claim ... two months is a long time in politics.

mutiganews@gmail.com; Twitter: @mutigam

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