On Sunday, the whole of Tanzania stood amazed…and mostly happy after CCM announced its nominated presidential candidate- Dr. John Pombe Magufuli. Prior to that the country was in waiting. Full of anxiety. Asking, who is going to be nominated? There were lots of guess works and assumptions. The gods kept the secret. After two days of sleepless nights in Dodoma, CCM shocked the country on Sunday 12th. Dr. Magufuli was not at the front of many minds in Tanzania – as the top candidate. He did not campaign at all. Between June 1st (when CCM released its form collections, form returns, and nomination dates ) and 7th July (when the process of nomination started) we watched drama unfolding. Candidates being busy on social media, TV, and newspapers sending messages to the citizens- self-baptizing as hard workers, corruption free, bold, etc etc. Yet Dr. Magufuli had stayed silent. He was confident. His past and history was his campaign. He did not need to say it again.
Well, without beating around the bush, I have twice written on the #CCM and the #PoliticsOfImage . First, I wrote about how Mr. Kinana, CCM Secretary General have tried to portray a humble image of the party. Second, I wrote out of wonder whether the nomination candidates were betraying Mr. Kinana’s effort to portray CCM as a humble party. But in the final analysis, I think Mr. Kinana’s strategy, has – consciously or unconsciously- won – i.e. CCM is a humble party. Dr. Magufuli, the now CCM presidential candidate, did not portray any fancy image during the whole month of nomination process. I did not even see the news on him going around looking for “wadhamini”, I did not see any photos of him, his “wapambe” (supporters), his wife and/or family ( as this style has almost become the norm in this election – similar to what Wole Soyinka observed in Nigeria 2015 campaigns and also what Lee Kuan Yew complained about). In short, it seems like politicians will have to revisit their perception of the power of image and what image to be portrayed in politics based on the CONTEXT- apparently the Western type of democracy is not yet very much productive in Tanzania. Indeed ( digressing a bit here) as my dear friend Emmanuel Tayari, wrote a month ago- Money can’t buy Tanzania’s presidency. Thanks to God! In fact, as Lee Kuan was concerned with the contemporary modes of campaigning and that such would not produce the likes of Churchill or de Gaulle, we may, indeed, say that the opposite of such has enabled CCM to get a formidable hardworking candidate.
I hope, as we are going to parliamentary candidates nomination processes, the potential candidates will have learnt from Dr. Magufuli- i.e. to stay humble and focus on issues instead of portraying their wealth and polishing their images. Each of the candidate’s past will act as witness. Similarly, I hope both CCM and the opposition (UKAWA and ACT-Wazalendo) will do a descent campaign this year. Not showing their wealth to citizens but talking issues and discussing issues that touch normal Tanzanian citizens. We need to focus on the development agenda- lifting Tanzania out of poverty- and not showing citizens that politicians are rich people and politics is shortcut to “progress”. Let’s portray politics as a way of solving societal problems.
Anyways, now that CCM has chosen Dr. Magufuli – who seemed not to have commanded the majority in the party – is the opposition taking advantage of this? What is the implication of cancelling Lowassa’s name? Was it a shock enough to change the political path in Tanzania? Is it a window of opportunity that the opposition can take advantage of….
Let’s wait…and probably I will be writing the next series on this…