Dar es Salaam. Former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa yesterday handed in presidential nomination forms to his new party, Chadema, setting in motion the process to formally endorse him. It is widely anticipated that Chadema will also forward Mr Lowassa’s name to its partners in Ukawa, which is made up of four parties.
Mr Lowassa has been endorsed by 1.6 million Chadema members from 32 regions. Chadema Deputy Secretary General (Zanzibar) Salum Mwalimu said the signatories were just the initial capital that assures Mr Lowassa of massive support during the 25 October 25 poll.
In the 2010 General Election, Chadema candidate, Dr Willibrod Slaa got 2.2 million votes, working out to 26.34 percent of all votes.The winner, President Jakaya Kikwete, got 5.2 million votes (61.7 percent).
Mr Lowassa returned the forms barely 24 hours after picking them on Friday. Chadema members, supporters and other onlookers thronged the party’s headquarters as Mr Lowassa handed in the documents. Most of those present carried placards with messages declaring Mr Lowassa a good leader and their saviour.
Mr Mwalimu and the national vice chairman (mainland), Prof Abdallah Safari, spoke at length on how the opposition party has aligned itself to wrestle power from Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) through the ballot box.
They told the crowd that Chadema would not only win the presidency but would also win many parliamentary and council seats. The leaders told party members that Mr Lowassa has only two steps to go before he is sworn as fifth president of Tanzania.
“CCM is also aware of this fact and that is why its members have been frantically trying to stop us all over the country in vain,” said Mr Mwalimu.
Mr Lowassa will be the in the spotlight as the party’s top organs carry out a review and he will on Tuesday be formally named as the party’s flag bearer. Reports reaching this paper suggested that the opposition party would also receive several other top CCM cadres.
According to our sources, those who will be welcomed on that day include some CCM regional chairmen. Mr Lowassa arrived at Chadema offices along Ufipa Street at around 3.35pm accompanied by members of his family. He was received by a big crowd chanting his praises.
Outlining the nomination process, Chadema director for Organisation and Training, Mr Benson Kigaila, said a presidential candidate must be endorsed by not less than 200 members. He added: “I believe Mr Lowassa’s forms have been signed by more than that number because, immediately after he picked the forms, many members thronged our zone offices waiting to sign the forms.”
The forms were dispatched to every region. According to Mr Kigaila, 1,662,397 members from 32 regions signed the forms.
“Mr Lowassa was supposed to go around the country to seek the signatures but, due to time constraints, we had to send the forms to the regions…the day he collected the forms, some 700 members came here to sign them,” said Mr Kigaila.
Mr Mwalimu told Chadema members that CCM was doing everything within its powers to derail Mr Lowassa’s journey to State House but the party would ensure that nothing stopped them from removing CCM from power democratically.
“We know they are strategising on how to stop his journey through Chadema and Ukawa, but we want them to know that Mr Lowassa’s defection to Chadema is God’s plan,” Mr Mwalimu said. “We have not picked him on the road, it is God who led him to Chadema.”
Mr Mwalimu said he was confident that nothing would stop Mr Lowassa’s move to Ukawa as no one else had picked presidential forms in Chadema and Ukawa. Chadema fully supports Mr Lowassa’s declared stand that he hates poverty, he added. “The country has not recorded any progress economically,” he said, “because of the backward thinking of CCM leaders.”