In the last general elections in Tanzania (2015), one of the questions that prevailed (to analysts) was whether some of the decisions made by the opposition coalition (UKAWA) were assets or liabilities? As many questions require, a proper answer to the question needed time. Now that a considerable time has passed it is not an extreme risk to indicate an answer. Liability. Seemingly, CCM was more strategic or probably lucky than the opposition. The CCM presidential candidate took advantage of opposition decision and hijacked one of the opposition’s main agenda- the fight against corruption. Even after winning the election, the CCM president has not let go of the stolen agenda and he still rides through the tides and waves with it. President Magufuli has unapologetically counter corruption through naked suspension of suspected corrupt officials. He has been trying to bring work discipline in the civil services with subsequent impact of the same in the private sector.
Now that the president has gained a significant amount of public popularity and legitimacy, the opposition has been stripped off its main agenda – the agenda that resonates with majority of Tanzania. So, the plan has been to look into and focus on other issues such as rule of law and civic rights. These are pertinent concerns however they do not appeal to majority of the population. As opposed to corruption, issues of rule of law and civic rights do not come as a priority to a citizen who thinks a corrupt official is taking his bread share away. They are secondary matters- often considered as luxury in a poverty stricken country. There have been a number of analyses on the opposition emerging state of wandering. Examples of such are: that the ban on political rallies has given opposition an agenda but then another analyst think that agenda is elitist and instead the opposition focus should be on policy including budget management and tax. These suggested agenda are, I think, also elitists.
The question thus remains- what agenda is left for the opposition to adopt that will easily resonate with the normal Mwananchi? On the same line of thinking, another question arises- does the opposition need to change its strategy?
I don’t have solutions for the above questions, but I am certain that the opposition will have to revisit of its strategy if it is to take power in the future. CCM is embedding its rule and power through the actions of Dr. Magufuli. This is another (probably magical) adaptation of CCM survival mechanism. Prior to the nomination of Dr. Magufuli, CCM adopted an image strategy, which worked through its nomination process, elections, and it is now culminating into something more….
Well, to end – I am throwing out a statement that I obtained from a long conversation I had with one of the most respected and wise elders in Tanzania (name reserved for now) – that “CCM is not a political party. It is a movement…a movement that brokers relations between the people and the state”.
I am still comprehending this statement…so don’t seek to hang me …