Politics of Image in Tanzania: CCM Rebranding Strategy for Survival

Below is the Abstract of the Paper that I am presenting at the African Studies Association (ASA)  Annual Conference (2016) in Washington DC.

Title: Politics of Image in Tanzania: CCM Rebranding Strategy for Survival


Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) is the ruling political party in Tanzania. The party has been in power since independence in 1961. There have been various scholarly explanations to the party’s maintenance of power – the two main reasons put forward by scholars have been (1) the party’s popularity in rural Tanzania and (2) the relative weak opposition in Tanzania. However, those two reasons can no more explain the party’s survival with particular reference to its winning in 2015 general elections. The implicit assumption of the paper is that CCM embarked in politics of image from 2012 in order to survive as a party and win the 2015 elections. Arguably, that was a result of a relative challenging elections the party faced in 2010 of which the party saw its candidate, Jakaya Kikwete, winning by 62.8% down from 80.2% in 2005. The party understood that it needed to change if it wanted to survive and win the 2015 elections. As a result, the party deployed a strategy to rebrand itself as a party of working class people – the majority Tanzanians. The rebranding efforts, consciously or unconsciously, culminated in nomination of John Magufuli as the party presidential candidate in 2015. John Magufuli was branded as a hardworking man, not rich, humble, and anti corrupt candidate. The paper deploys process tracing research approach to explore, trace, and analyse the rebranding strategy from 2012 to 2015.

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