Welcome to East Africa club, but do you really want in Magufuli?

By: GITAU WARIGI

In the end, there was no post-election meltdown in Tanzania that some had alarmingly predicted (and maybe sadistically hoped for).

There was the usual hanky-panky of stuffed ballot boxes; constituencies showing higher voter turnouts than registered voters; abnormally large numbers of spoilt votes in opposition strongholds and nary in CCM ones; and odd tallies in some areas where every registered voter presumably voted.

All of it very African and predictable. After a pregnant pause, opposition challenger Edward Lowassa rejected the results.

Again, all very African and predictable. Welcome, Tanzania, to 21st century Africa.

You will find experienced smoothies to guide you in this murky electoral world.

Overall, it is possible to give CCM the benefit of the doubt regarding the results from the mainland.

However, it was something else altogether in Zanzibar, where the abrupt annulment of results was highly suspicious.

The controversial self-proclamation of victory by CUF’s Seif Hamad in the Zanzibari race reportedly had merit with facts on the ground.

There has been a strong secessionist streak in the isles for some time. The 1964 union with the mainland no longer excites Zanzibaris. There is also an Islamist fringe with a sinister agenda.

Elections in the archipelago in the year 2000 got so violent that some 2,000 opposition activists fled to Kenya temporarily.

LOWASSA’S DEFECTION

The situation will deteriorate if Zanzibaris feel they were cheated again last Sunday.

An old convention where the Union presidency would alternate between a mainlander and a Zanzibari was abandoned when Ali Hassan Mwinyi, the successor to Julius Nyerere, left office.

All the subsequent presidents have been from the mainland.

There was no way the AU, Sadc or East African Community observers were going to openly bad-mouth Sunday’s election in what has been, beyond dispute, East Africa’s most politically stable state.

But the EU observers were sterner. They did not mince words about the lack of transparency in the process.

Thereafter all the observer groups read from the same page over the peculiar happenstance in Zanzibar.

CCM could use a bit of fresh, open air itself. It is common knowledge President Jakaya Kikwete could not stand Mr Lowassa, his former prime minister.

The candidate’s name disappeared somewhere before the Soviet-style CCM apparatus of central committee and national executive was activated.

This caused an uproar, and the defection of Mr Lowassa.

THE EAC ISSUE

It is understood it took the intervention of former president Benjamin Mkapa to bring order.

Kikwete reportedly was pushing for his Foreign Minister, Bernard Membe.

It couldn’t work. A compromise candidate had to be figured out, and hence Dr Magufuli.

There is a story that Mkapa and certain other CCM elders wanted somebody who will reconnect Tanzania to Kenya specifically and with the EAC in general.

This makes sense. Tanzania under Kikwete has been left adrift as Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda pursue fast-tracked regional projects under the so-called Coalition of the Willing.

Kikwete was strangely ambivalent to the fact that Tanzania could be flung out of the EAC.

His recent farewell address to Kenya’s Parliament where he sang hosannas to EAC met silent hisses about hypocrisy.

It remains to be seen if Dr Magufuli will make his inaugural official visit to Kenya once he is sworn in.

Eldas MP Adan Keynan is a complete turn-off.

It is not just his habit of pushing outrageous Bills that have no sense or rhyme, like the one proposing stiff penalties for journalists who “defame” Parliament.

His latest Bill seeks diplomatic passports for MPs and their wives. Pray, what diplomatic service do the wives offer our country?

SOURCE: DAILY NATION