One week until the Tanzanian elections: online monitoring, Slaa’s growing popularity and more

Tanzania’s Presidential elections are only one week away (same for the ones in Côte d’Ivoire), and there’s plenty of talk, analysis and initiatives around this. Here’s some links and extract to some of the most interesting ones:

On voting, and the election itself, Vijana FM has this recent post outlining two online initiatives to get citizens reporting any issues that may arise, TZelect and Uchaguzi Tanzania:

A few weeks ago we told you we started TZelect, an Ushahidi-based platform that aims to collect and discuss reports from East African youth about election events.

Recently we were contacted by a few organizations who have put together a similar platform, Uchaguzi Tanzania, which allows for reports to be sent in via SMS.

Both TZelect and Uchaguzi Tanzania are focussed on the immediete elections being held in Tanzania on October 31st of this year, as well as the long-term progress of elected candidates in office.

However, while Uchaguzi Tanzania is built to accomodate hour-to-hour updates from the general public on the ground in Tanzania, TZelect is built to collect continuous, analytical discussions about these election events, specifically from youth.

Here are some important reminders of how to submit reports to either portal, whichever works for you.

How to submit reports to TZelect

:

1. By sending an email to tzelect (at) gmail (dot) com
2. By sending a tweet with the hashtag/s #TZelect or #uchaguzitz
3. By filling this form

How to submit reports to Uchaguzi Tanzania

:

1. By sending a message to 15540
2. By sending an email to elections.tz (st) gmail (dot) com
3. By sending a tweet with the hashtag/s #uchaguzi or #humanrightstz
4. By filling this form

If you are part of or know of other organizations using similar ICT-based mediums to gather public opinion and discussion around the elections, drop us a line so we can try and work with them.

But what about the outcome of the election? What are the most likely scenarios? Is CCM’s incumbent President Kikwete (or JK, as he’s also known) guaranteed his second term? by which margin? Here, most of the talk has revolved around CHADEMA’s Wilbrod Slaa, and what it seems it’s his impressive campaigning which is threatening to cut down CCM’s current ample majority. Some, like Chambi Chachage, go as far as wondering “Why Slaa could win the Presidential election on Sunday 31 October 2010”. Chachage writes:

It is quite clear that Dr. Wilbrod Slaa’s decision to run as a presidential candidate has tilted the balance of power. Now the debate is no longer about whether the ruling party’s candidate will get a landslide victory – as in the previous election. Rather, it is about by how much that victory will be cut.
 


Frankly, I think it needs nothing short of a miracle for Slaa to win. But there is something in this election that is different from previous elections. It is coming at a time when, for a combination of reasons, many more people have registered to vote.

Now, (…)it is a well-known fact that, in terms of membership, the ruling party can hardly boast a quarter of that number (of registred voters). This implies that many of those who have registered, including myself, are the swing voters. We can swing either way in terms of the personality and policy of the candidate.
 

This is what happened in 2005 when the ruling party fielded a very attractive personality. It is now happening as one of the opposition parties has fielded a very influential personality. But that is not enough to make Slaa overcome the strength or experience of the ruling party election machinery.

Coupled with massive voter awareness and election campaigns, it is possible that Slaa will win the presidential seat. But, again, it is also quite possible that Slaa will be a ‘lame’ president since it is very likely that the ruling party will have a majority of seats in parliament. I am not sure how well prepared the Constitution is to deal with such an outcome. One thing I am very sure of: such an eventuality will open a new chapter in Tanzania’s quest for democratic constitutional reform. Slaa may not become president. But his candidature is democratising us. Either way he wins.

So, while it seems unlikely that Slaa will become President, it is clear that CCM will not enjoy as great a majority as it did in the 2005 elections. This much is noted on this Reuters piece:

“The election campaign has been very robust. We have an incumbent president seeking re-election and a newcomer growing in popularity at a time when the general mood is that of change,” said Moses Kulaba, a political analyst.
Kikwete, 60, who won in 2005 with over 80 percent of the vote, has seen his popularity plunge to 38 percent in October from 77.2 percent in April, partly due to failed promises, according to opinion polls.

“I don’t think the ruling party will lose. I think Kikwete will win with a small margin of the vote – probably between 50 to 65 percent of the vote,” said Kulaba.
“It’s a two-horse race between Kikwete and Slaa. This is very historical because the Civic United Front (CUF) has traditionally been the main opposition party in Tanzania.”
“Slaa has emerged as an unexpected presidential candidate and his message of change is resonating with voters anxious for a new direction,” political commentator Azaveli Lwaitama said.

So, a tight(er) victory for Kikwete, seems the most likely scenario, as Elsie accurately predicted over a month ago:

1. Jakaya Kikwete is going to be re-elected as President. Tanzania always re-elects the incumbent. Besides, there is no viable candidate for the Union Presidency outside of the CCM yet. This won’t be the case in 2015 and 2020 if our opposition keeps maturing (which is hardly guaranteed by the looks of it).
2. Jay Kay is going to win with maybe 60-65% of the vote. Of course CCM knows it can’t reproduce it’s ridiculous 80% win from 2005 even though it has plastered Jay Kay all over anything that sits still long enough. There is nothing like staring at an incumbent’s feet of clay for five years straight to kill off any romance.

In any case, Slaa’s growing popularity, and his ability to chip away CCM’s majority, seems to me like a positive development overall, for democratic consolidation requires a turnover in power and therefore that CCM (the only party to have ruled Tanzania since independence), at some point, give up their grip on the state. Probably this will not happen next week, but the fact that this turnover is beginning to be seen as a real possibility, signals some positive development.
Tanzania, which has seen an impressive economic growth during the last decade, will face important challenges for the next five years, most notably, how to translate this growth into social developments for everyone, and also how to accomodate the political system to the changes taking place – especially, to fend off the religious polarisation that seems to have emerged during the electoral campaign, to mobilise and tap onto the energy of the youth, and to reduce the existing levels of corruption in order to promote foreign investment. For the time being, just one week for the election and lots of interesting questions… And the hope that all Tanzanians, will make the most of this time and will exercise their civic duties and democratic rights by voting next week. And if anyone’s reading and would like to share their opinions and thoughts on this, I’d be honoured.

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