It’s crunch time for Tanzania's opposition prior 2020 polls

Friday June 5 2020

 NCCR-Mageuzi chairman James Mbatia addresses

 NCCR-Mageuzi chairman James Mbatia addresses journalists in Dodoma on Thursday June 4 about the party’s preparations for the October 2020 General Election. PHOTO | EDWIN MJWAHUZI 

By Louis Kolumbia @Collouis1999lkolumbia

Dar es Salaam. Opposition parties have a tight schedule to meet legal requirements as well as making cooperation agreements ahead of the 2020 General Election.
The amended Political Parties Act 1992 has set tough new procedures for the parties to form a coalition before and after the General Election.
The new law requires the parties to first agree on areas of cooperation before the agreements are submitted to the Registrar of Political Parties not later than August.
The amendment means the end of the Coalition of Defenders of People’s Constitution, Ukawa, an infor-mal agreement made by the main opposition Chadema, NCCR-Mageuzi, the Civic United Front (Cuf) and the National League for Democracy (NLD) during the 2015 General Election.
Ukawa was formed following an agreement of leaders of the four opposition par-ties before a signing ceremony held at the Jangwani Grounds, one year before the 2015 General Election.
The Political Parties Act 1992 that was amended last year has introduced Section 11A (1) to (6) that sets a legal process for political parties to form a coalition.
The law obliges parties planning to form coalitions to submit to the Registrar of Political parties cooperation agreements endorsed by members through constitutional meetings of individual parties three months before the general elections.
Parties wishing to form alliance after the general elections have to submit a similar agreement to the Registrar two weeks after the elections.
According to the law, agreements should be submitted by authorised persons and must contain specific matters of cooperation and that status of individual parties should be maintained as per their registration.
Therefore, political par-ties have to identify those ready for the coalition ahead of the forthcoming elections and start the process under a tight schedule if at all they aim at forming an alliance.
Opposition parties will then have to agree on areas of cooperation and submit proposals to decision mak-ing meetings before the agreement is tabled to the RPP.
Speaking in Dodoma yesterday, NCCR-Mageuzi chairman James Mbatia, invited leaders of other political parties to negoti-ate on a possible opposition alliance ahead of polls, saying he believed in consensus.
“My trouble is with politicians who spend their time abusing those who have defected to other parties. I have no problem in reaching agreement with other parties,” he said.
Mr Mbatia was speaking a day after Chadema secretary general John Mnyika had told a press conference that his party was inviting serious opposition parties to discuss the opposition cooperation ahead of the October polls.
“We are opening the door for cooperation with serious political parties that aim at removing CCM from power,” he said.
Mr Mnyika told The Citizen recently that the amendment of the Political Parties Act 1992 was done purposely to weaken the opposition.
He said opposition par-ties had a limited time to comply with demands of the law, saying the coalition wasn’t the right avenue ahead the 2020 General Elections.
“Opposition parties can cooperate by supporting a strong party and candidate in a certain constituency and ward,” he said.
However, he said Chadema’s cooperation route will not be disclosed because it was among the party’s elec-tion strategies.ACT-Wazalendo secre-tary general Ado Shaibu would soon give its position on the developments.
Mr Shaibu was quoted recently as saying Tanzanians needed a united opposition “that’s why in 2015 Ukawa got many parliamentarians and councillors and presidential candidates garnered many votes.”
Cuf deputy secretary general (Mailand), Magdalena Sakaya, said he was not in the position to give the party’s stance on the issue at the moment.

She commended the move, however, saying “it was a good one despite the challenges experienced in Ukawa during the 2015 election.“Our procedures demand consultation among party-leader and meetings that will give our position on the matter,” said Ms Sakaya who is also the Kaliua MP.
The Chama cha Kijamii (CCK) secretary general Renatus Muabhi said some Ukawa members believe that it is Chadema that benefited from Ukawa as compared to others,” he said.
A political science expert at the University of Dar es Salaam (Udsm), Prof Mohamed Bakari said a recent meeting between President John Magufuli and leaders of some opposition parties at State House troubled opposition parties.
“It was a random and     deliberate move for divide the opposition. After the meeting, he said, most oppo-sition leaders came out with a complete changed in spirit and language,” he said.
He believes that a coalition between Chadema and ACT-Wazalendo had a big chance of meeting the opposition’s demand as compared to NCCR-Mageuzi and CUF.
“But without cooperation they will lose a large number of lawmakers and council-ors,” he said.
The Ruaha Catholic University (Rucu) senior political science lecturer, Prof Gaudence Mpangala said absence of cooperation among political parties will weaken the opposition and the parliament.