Yesterday, I had an opportunity to speak in the Houses of Parliament in Westminster to members of the UK Parliament All Party Group (APPG) on Tanzania and of British Tanzania Society. The panel, which included Ben Taylor (the famous mtega) and I was chaired by the Chair of the APPG, Hon. Jeremy Lefroy, MP for Staffordshire.
In this post, I am putting forth a summary and an outline of some of the points that I expounded on.
Abstract of my talk:
In June 2015 when 30+ CCM presidential candidates were running all over the country campaigning for the party nominations, Jenerali Ulimwengu wrote, “… they are trying to be philosopher kings without philosophy.” Indeed and unfortunately this is still the case in the ongoing elections’ campaigns. What we are witnessing is, arguably, an ideological vacuum reflected on the mere focus to ‘image’ and personalities rather than manifesto. The result is a watered democracy. That is democracy reduced to discussing personalities, freedom of attending political rallies, and to (some extent) making noises and expressing political preferences and chanting change, yet without given chance to critically scrutinize candidates, parties’ manifesto, and ability to bring the needed change. Change is demanded, but the question is: change from what? Will change really occur after October 25th?
The ongoing elections campaigns are a highlight of an increased participant civic culture. In political science we read from Almond and Verba (1963) on civic culture- in which they outline 3 types of political culture: parochial (dormant citizens), subject (“ndio mzee” citizens), and participant (active citizens). Over a period of time, I think Tanzanians have gradually moved from a subject political culture towards participant culture. Because….
- More people have registered for voting
- Hundreds and sometimes thousands are showing up in political rallies
- Ongoing discussions on social media, newspapers, and on streets are about elections (candidates)
- The desire for – mabadiliko– change is evident in the public sphere- despite party affiliation
But the issue is the quality of such debates. Is desiring “change” enough? Change from what? CCM is saying “change” from things as usual while UKAWA/Chadema “change from CCM”. But what’s the national agenda? ACT-Wazalendo is more focused – returning the country to its values/foundations (KURUDISHA NCHI KATIKA MISINGI YAKE). The fact that ACT Wazalendo gets lots of people despite its relatively low publicity efforts and its newness- it shows people want real change. On its campaigning launch, the new party saw thousands of people its grounds even though they did not have celebrities to entertain/attract the masses. It was a sign that citizens are indeed looking after change.
Ideological Vacuum – “…wanting to be philosopher kings without a philosophy”
- There are now 3 main parties vivid in the Tanzanian elections (although many more are participating).
- These are CCM, UKAWA (led by CHADEMA), and ACT Wazalendo.
- Parties have their manifesto but not defined ideological agenda with exception of ACT-Wazalendo
- The main parties agenda (for the two main parties – CCM & Chadema) are based on the “end”, which has been reduced to power – “staying in power” or “getting to power”. Of course power is the first purpose of any political party…but usually a political party is driven by an ideology of which is the primary reason why it wants to get into power so that it can put into action what it believes on.
- In its manifesto- CCM did not explicitly state its ideology, but from what the manifesto is, the party leans on market economy although there’s lots of confusion on other areas. CCM manifesto only lists the achievements in the last 5 years and what they will do in the next 5 years. It reads like a summary from different government ministries of their accomplishments and plans for the next five year. The manifesto is unfriendly to read composed of 217 pages.
- Chadema’s manifesto states that it is on the centre-but it does not say which centre. Thus creating confusions evident in its uncritical list of things presented in it. It is vague and evident of minimal time put into preparing it.
- ACT-Wazalendo has coherently stated its ideological leaning side (left wing). It is manifesto is friendly, well thought out, and has priorities. It is very much backed up with the party’s ideology presented in the Azimio la Tabora.
- The lack of coherent ideological agenda in the two main parties (CCM and Chadema) reduces the election debates into a list of issues/projects to be implemented without critical questioning and analysis.
When candidates are talking about “issues” they are focusing on projects – in fact In fact Prof. Kitila Mkumbo rightly attacked such approach to campaigning when he decided to lecture the country/public on the role of the president – a vision bearer and a thinker and NOT a project manager.
- The focus in the campaigns has so far been on PERSONALITIES – candidates (Magofuli vs. Lowassa) and not national agenda. For example, NO THOROUGH/SERIOUS DISCUSSION ON CONSTITUTION (the issue is indicated in the manifestos of CCM and Chadema but the discussion on it in the campaigning platform is almost zero).
- The two main candidates are mostly a reflection of “politics of image” that the two major parties – Chadema and CCM have been working on for months prior to elections campaigns.
Politics of Image
- Tracing from 2000s, CCM has strongly been perceived as a party for the rich, if you are rich you stay in CCM. Through membership of CCM or position, you can get rich. That was a perception in the eyes of the public. Politicians are the richest people. The elections in 2005 and 2010 were a show off of richness and how money talks.
- Since Kinana became the Secretary General of CCM we can trace changes in trying to rebrand CCM. I noticed this and blogged about the “Politics of Image”. Under his leadership, CCM has systematically tried to rebrand itself- making and showing it off as a party for the ordinary poor Tanzanians. Kinana himself went across the entire country to interact with Wananchi. The images accompanied his trips were of him taking public transport (e.g. central line train), eating with villagers on plastic plates, using hoes to farm, building dispensaries together with the citizens, walking in local markets, etc
- On its side, Chadema has been showing off good cars branded with M4C, the party convoys and rallies have been largely flamboyant. I think the strategy was to show that it’s a capable party that can lead the country.
- Lowassa, arguably, failed to understand the trend in CCM secretariat strategy…his nomination campaign was very flamboyant. A number of other CCM candidates were partly missing the point and tried to follow on Lowassa’s strategies (conducting live TV air times – talking to Wananchi, sending images to social media of them having many followers wanting to sponsor their candidacy, self-branded cars, etc
- Kinana also critically questioned CCM on his public rallies and rebuked CCM ministers who were not performing well properly. All this was partly efforts to rebrand the party
- CCM- keeping up with its “rebranding” strategy- ultimately chose the person who is mostly considered not rich but a hard worker and serious to what he does- John Magufuli. He did not have a TV-live air show, no use of money and flamboyance in looking for sponsors. He did it silently and his name was a shock to most.
When Magufuli was nominated, my first reaction was – this is a victory to Kinana’s branding strategy!
- Lowassa and Chadema found a compatible point…shared “image” – also with Chadema’s desperation to remove CCM out of power and get into power, its chairman took a huge risk and invited Lowassa to join in and ran as a presidential candidate for the party and for the UKAWA.
- Immediately after Lowassa got into CHADEMA there has been lots of enhanced flamboyance – increased branded buses, more helicopters, billboards in Dar-es-Salaam main streets
- Lowassa also thought of “humbling” himself- like using daladala (crowded public buses), but this was not compatible to the overall strategy of UKAWA neither was it effective with the now full-fledged CCM campaigning flamboyance
- So the “humble” branding time is now past and the competition has called on flamboyance decorated by “floods” of followers and attendance in rallies. CCM is obviously still trapped in the flamboyant image (billboards of Magufuli are all over the country, artists going round with him….) . Kinana’s strategy was not embedded in the CCM bloodline.
- But Magofuli is branding and highlighting his strengths more than the party- talking about “SEREKALI YA MAGOFULI” …. This is a strategy.
The battle of Personalities more than the party:
- Magofuli- “Serekali ya Magofuli itafanya kazi…”
- Lowassa- “Lowassa anaweza, ana maamuzi…”
- Anna Mwighira- “serekali ya ACT-Wazalendo”. More confident to talk about her party since it has an ideology.
Other issues noticeable in the campaigns:
- Religions and Politics (personal interests)
- Use of Nyerere as a moral litmus paper
- Tanzania will have a peaceful elections
- Whoever will win- there will be changes – BUT the worry is the quality of that change
- ACT-Wazalendo is likely to emerge as an active and credible opposition party whatever the results.
- The country is under going important democratic process (even if it’s watered)- and mostly important, Tanzania continues to be an example and a ray of hope to the region and entire continent of Africa- a country where a president is democratically leaving the office after his two-terms period.
Thank you 🙂