Monday, January 23, 2012

‘Migiro factor’ fuels 2015 polls debate

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.