Dar es Salaam. President Julius Nyerere’s exit after 24 years in power started in earnest on October 14, the day presidential campaigns started. The campaigns had been delayed for one week because of fuel shortages in the country. Ali Hassan Mwinyi had been nominated as the presidential candidate in the ‘one-horse election’ that took place on October 27.
During the campaigns the outgoing President urged voters to turnup in droves and cast the YES vote to Mwinyi to enable the succession to take place.
Addressing a campaign rally at the Samora Stadium in Iringa town Mwl Nyerere said many YES votes to Mwinyi will be a vote of confidence to the new President. “If we start by showing that we have confidence in him, he will gain confidence on himself and will serve us better. And you know we are currently passing through a difficult time, economically,” Mwl Nyerere noted. Commenting on what happened then veteran politician, Njelu Kasaka, says during that party regional and district chairmen were also used to campaign for the President. The presidential candidate held only a couple of campaign events.
Kasaka was also part of a group of 55 MPs who demanded for the government of Tanganyika in 1993. On November 1, 1985 was the day presidential election results were announced. The event was held at the Diamond Jubilee Hall in Upanga.
The chairperson of the electoral body Chief Adam Sapi Mkwawa declared Mwinyi as the President-elect after 92.2 per cent of voters cast the YES votes (4,778,114). NO votes were 215,626. And 188,259 votes were spoilt. A total of 6,901,555 people registered to vote.
Chief Mkwawa said because more than 50 per cent of all those who turned out cast the YES vote, he was, therefore declaring Mwinyi as the new President of the United Republic of Tanzania. “In accordance to Article 41, section 3(c) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania I hereby declare Ali Hassan Mwinyi as the President-elect of Tanzania,” Chief Mkwawa announced.
The results declaration event was attended by Mwl Nyerere, Zanzibar President, Idris Abdul Wakil; Prime Minister Dr Salim Ahmed Salim and Zanzibar Chief Minister, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad. Maalim Seif is now ACT- Wazalendo chairperson.
‘I am going to serve, not rule’
After declaring Mwinyi the President-elect, the chairman of the electoral body, Chief Mkwawa, gave the outgoing President Nyerere an opportunity to say a few words. But Nyerere declined only saying; “I have nothing to say.”
The President-elect gave a short speech saying during his tenure as the President of the country, he will servant as opposed to the ruler, of the people. “I have accepted to shoulder this responsibility and I am going to be the people’s servant and not the master. I will serve my nation diligently, in collaboration with my colleagues,” Mwinyi noted. He added; “I knew I was going to win in the election, but not to this extent. I have been encouraged by the poll results. And I feel indebted to all those Tanzanians who voted YES.” He quipped that he was going to be the President of all Tanzanians, including those who voted NO.
Kasaka says despite overwhelming YES votes that Mwinyi received, many people were still not sure of how Tanzania would be without Nyerere. This was because they had total trust in Mwl Nyerere;
“I think the fact that Mwl Nyerere continued to be CCM chairperson reassured the people because hey knew he wouldn’t let the country go hay way on the party’s watch,” Mr Kasaka said. President Mwinyi inherited a country that was in deep economic recession; there was shortage of foreign currency and the industries were unproductive, which forced the new President to start negotiations with the International Monetary Fund. The negotiations with the IMF resulted into liberalisation of the economy, which lessened some of the difficulties such as shortage of consumer goods.
Nyerere bids farewell to the nation
One day before the President-elect was sworn-in, the outgoing President, Nyerere bid farewell to Tanzanians. Mwl Nyerere addressed the nation through an event that took place at the Diamond Jubilee Hall on Monday, November 4, 1985.
“I say thank you to you all for the trust you placed on me for the last 24 years. I thank you individually and collectively for the fight you put forward to make Tanzania the country it is today,” he said. He said the goodwill he had received from both inside and outside the country after he announced he was retiring was because Tanzanians had stood with him and worked hard to give Tanzania the prestige it enjoyed. “Had I been an angel, assisted with a Cabinet full of angels, still I couldn’t have built Tanzania alone without your help,” Nyerere added.
He added that confidence to the President is crucial for the development, peace and stability of any nation. It was because of the confidence that Tanzanians had in him, he noted, that the country weathered the storms brought about by the collapse of the East African Community in 1977, the Kagera War of 1979, the plummeting of global commodity prices and prolonged drought.
“Tanzanians didn’t panic, nor were they not ready to all us to sell our independence for short-term gains!” Mwl Nyerere noted, adding that that allowed for the creation of a patriotic nation that was proud of its independence. He also took note of Tanzania’s efforts to help freedom fighters from other countries.
During the event Mwl Nyerere was given several gifts by representatives from all regions for his service to the country.