Presidential aspirants reach 40 as another candidate joins race

Friday June 26 2015

Ms Helena Elinawinga is all smiles after

Ms Helena Elinawinga is all smiles after picking up CCM nomination forms in Dodoma yesterday. PHOTO | EDWIN MJWAHUZI 

By Katare Mbashiru The Citizen Reporter

Dodoma. If you thought the list of CCM presidential aspirants was complete after their number reached 39 by the end of last week, you got it all wrong. Why? Another ruling party cadre, who is little known in political circles, yesterday became the 40th Ikulu hopeful in the Kikwete succession battle.

Ms Helena Elinawinga picked the nomination forms in Dodoma, having driven all the way from Dar es Salaam. She is the sixth female candidate in a line-up that is overwhelmingly male. With only a week to go, it is not clear how Ms Elinawinga will collect signatures in 15 regions—including one from Zanzibar.

Dressed in dark trousers, a pink shirt and a cap featuring the colours of the national flag, Ms Elinawinga arrived at CCM headquarters in a Bajaj at 1pm, determined to pick the nomination forms. Unlike other CCM cadres, who have been appearing at headquarters in party outfit, Ms Elinawinga appeared to be focused on the succession battle rather than the dress code.

Earlier yesterday, there were suggestions that a prominent CCM cadre, Mr Emanuel Nchimbi, would also pick the forms—and journalists made haste to camp at the party’s headquarters.

When Ms Elinawinga arrived in her transport of choice, no one—including journalists—took her for a presidential candidate in a hurry to beat the deadline. This was to change when she calmly opened her bag and paid the Sh1 million required for nomination fees.

With no pomp and no convoys of expensive vehicles and hundreds of supporters, Ms Elinawinga quietly made history, becoming the 40th candidate in the race to State House.

If anyone thought she would address the media after she received the forms, they would be in for another surprise. She declared that she had no interest whatsoever in talking to journalists. Clearly, hers would be a simple and low-key challenge for the presidency.

Still, she could not avoid the press and, in the face of a barrage of questions. So she caved in—reluctantly.

Asked why she was in the race, her answer was brief and to the point. The 41-year old said she was in because it seemed that everyone had become a street judge and she wanted to stop the killing of leaders in the streets. She would not explain what she meant, saying only that there have been “sequential death penalties”. She was fit and qualified for the highest office in the land, she added, because she believes in a just society. Ms Elinawinga then pulled out of her briefcase copies of papers that featured photographs of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and ousted Egyptian Islamist leader Mohammed Morsy.