By Frank Kimboy,The Citizen Reporter
Dar es Salaam. The imminent return home of Dr Asha-Rose Migiro after expiry of her tenure as United Nations deputy secretary general, has given fresh momentum to speculations on who will emerge victorious in the hotly contested slot of CCM candidate in the 2015 presidential election.
Technically, the slot is an open cheque, since, at the end of President Jakaya Kikwete’s second, and constitutionally last five-year term, the party flag bearer is selected as the culmination of a rigorous, often tension-rocked process.
Whoever judges himself or herself suitable, and meets the set criteria is free to contest, or to do so in response to the prodding of allies, as a result of which the field is initially crowded.
The ‘Asha-Rose Migiro’ factor, however, revolves around the gender aspect, whereby some observers speculate that, CCM’s top decision-making organs may decide to give a chance to a high-profile member to become the next president and the first female holder of the top seat.
The diplomat whose CV scored a notch higher after being appointed to the top UN post in 2007 has not openly indicated interest in the presidency, but happens to be a product of that assumption.
The assumption is partly rooted in the ascendancy to the position of Parliamentary Speaker, of Anne Makinda, after the 2011 general elections, the first woman to head the legislative arm of government since independence in 1961.
By extension, feelings are, that, having Dr. Migiro as president, if she were fielded by CCM and won the polls, and having therefore, two pillars ‑ the Executive Legislature – led by women, would consolidate gender equity.
Those who spoke to The Citizen endorsed the lady who had previously made history as Tanzania’s first female foreign minister, as someone who fitted the presidential bill, but feared that, her path could be blocked by the mainly male-engineered factional jostling for CCM presidential candidacy.
In the view of some, however, Dr. Migiro was potentially the best compromise candidate, on account of being among the most distinguished women, and having been detached from factional politics while she was on the UN five-year-long tour of duty.
Mr Paul Loisulie a lecturer at the University of Dodoma and Yona Mbuga a lawyer based in Dar es Salaam echoed those sentiments.
“CCM will have a very difficult task to make sure the process of selecting President Kikwete’s successor will not rock the party, for we are currently witnessing that it has been split into rival camps of those wishing to vie for the presidency; the selection of people like Dr Migiro who are not embroiled in group politics could benefit the party,” noted Mr Loisulie.
Mr Mbunda, on his part, argued that Dr Migiro’s candidature as CCM flag bearer in the 2015 presidential race would not only help the party, but enable it reap dividends in the form of the votes of most women.
Dr Benson Bana, head of political science and public administration at the University of Dar es Salaam, said Dr Migiro was presidential material.
However, Dr Bana said Dr Migiro’s bid to become the country’s fifth president would be undermined by the culture of most Tanzanians, of not trusting women to hold high political positions.
“I think it is too early to talk about 2015 though her name has been mentioned several times as someone who could succeed President Kikwete… but for her to realise that, there will be many hindrances, notably the culture of Tanzanians who don’t trust women to higher political offices,” Dr Bana said. But Mr Bashiru Alli, a political science and public administration lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, holds different views.
He says the Migiro factor won’t help CCM because the party had been rocked beyond repair, by the various groups formed by people seeking nomination ahead of the 2015 polls.
The don noted that previous CCM exercises were clouded by inter-factional conflicts that would play out in 2015, and therefore make the chances of Dr Migiro and other neutral politicians sailing through very slim.
“No individual will serve CCM from the groups that have been slowly killing the party; I think CCM needs to change its system, the party needs to walk the talk, it needs to conduct itself as a party of workers and farmers as its constitution states,” he said.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Dr Azaveli Lwaitama of the same university. Dr Lwaitama argued that race, gender and religion won’t play any part in the 2015 general election.
“If you argue that her experience as UN deputy secretary will help her to become CCM flag bearer you are mistaken; you should recall how Dr Salim (Ahmed Salim) failed in his 2005 bid despite his services as the African Union secretary general,” he said.
Dr Migiro, who was appointed by the UN secretary general Mr Ban Ki Moon in 2007, is leaving at a time when Mr Ki Moon is lining up a new team to carry forward his agenda after he was re-elected last year for a second and final five-year term.
Dr Migiro had also served as Tanzania foreign minister in the first phase government of president Kikwete administration before taking up the UN post in 2007. She was the third deputy secretary-general and the first African woman to hold the prestigious post that was established by the General Assembly at the end of 1997 as part of reforms in the UN.