Tanzania comes of age as rivals endorse Magufuli

Tanzanian President John Magufuli

Tanzanian President John Magufuli

from ALLOYCE KIMBUNGA in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
DAR-ES-SALAAM, (CAJ News) THE unprecedented decision by an opposition party to endorse a leader of a rival party is an unparalleled show of political maturity in Tanzania.

It enhances the prospects of a second term for President John Pombe Magufuli when the country holds elections towards the end of the year.

The Tanzania Labour Party (TLP) has declared its support for Magufuli ahead of its delegates’ conference scheduled for May.

Augustino Mrema, the TLP national chairman, confirmed the decision, which also boosts the poll prospects of Magufuli’s ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Swahili for Party of the Revolution), Africa’s longest-serving ruling party that has ruled the former Tanganyika since 1962, a year after gaining independence.

“Our party will not nominate a presidential candidate for the October 2020 elections,” Mrema said in Dar es Salaam, the largest city.

“We have agreed to endorse Magufuli who will be vying for the presidency on the ticket of the ruling party,” he further confirmed.

James Bendera, the socio-political commentator, described the TLP’s endorsement of Magufuli as a watershed moment in a country characterised by tensions between the ruling party and the opposition.

These differences were evident in the last poll in 2015 when Magufuli ascended to the presidency.

There have been further ructions as the president cracks down on corruption.

“The TLP’s backing of Magufuli for yet another term is not only a momentous act of political maturity but a backing of his first term that prioritised the fight against graft,” said analyst, James Bendera.

He said it aligned with the prevailing calm relations between the ruling party and the opposition as the country heads for elections.

Magufuli has recently met his opposition counterparts to discuss political reforms amid calls by some opposition parties for the establishment of an independent elections commission for the poll.

The meetings discussed other pressing issues such as the coronavirus (COVID-19), which has spilled into Tanzania. The country of more than 59 million people confirmed its first case on Monday.

TLP’s endorsement is the latest development to boost the ruling party’s chances of retaining power in Africa’s tenth largest economy.

It comes a year after former Prime Minister, Edward Lowassa, returning to Chama Cha Mapinduzi, a party he quit in 2015.

Representing the opposition Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Swahili for Party for Democracy and Progress), he lost the presidential election to Magufuli.

Another political commentator, Adika Ezekiel, said these developments strengthening the ruling party were the reason opposition groups were considering coalitions for the next general elections.

ACT-Wazalendo is leading the campaign for the opposition to unite.

Ezekiel noted Chama Cha Mapinduzi itself was now a united force unlike the last elections when it was still beset by divisions over the race to succeed Magufuli’s predecessor, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.

“A united Chama Cha Mapindizi can be no match to a combined opposition,” Ezekiel said.

Last November, the ruling party romped to a landslide (99 percent) in the local government elections that set the tone for the general polls.

Earlier this month (March), a delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) endorsed the prudent monetary and fiscal policies of Magufuli’s government, which culminated in Tanzania’s economic conditions remaining stable.

IMF stated the policies were key in the economic growth estimated at about 6 percent and inflation at under 5 percent.

– CAJ News

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