Opposition to test new strategies in civic polls

Chadema Secretary-General Vincent Mashinji

Dar es Salaam. Opposition parties plan to use the coming civic elections to test new strategies they designed in the last three years ahead the General Election next year.

This was revealed to The Citizen by leaders of opposition parties in different occasions as most of them decried what they described as hostile political environment to which they have been subjected since the last General Election.

They said their parties were prepared for the civic elections slated for November, this year.

The opposition will take part in the civic elections having survived almost a four-year-ban to do politics after President John Magufuli announced the blackout, saying he needs to be given a chance to implement what he promised Tanzanians during the last campaigns.

If that is not enough, countless leaders in the opposition face various cases in courts, which arguably will have negative impact in their planning ahead of the polls.

Relations between the opposition and the police have not been easy in the past four year.

Dispersion by Police in internal meetings, arrests and sometimes detention have been common.

“Despite these challenges, we have been successful in expanding our party network down to a hamlet level,” claimed Chadema Secretary-General Vincent Mashinji. “We have covered 80 per cent of all hamlets in the country, 90 per cent of all villages and 95 of all wards.” ACT Wazalendo Party’s Ideology, Publicity and Public Communications secretary Ado Shaibu said in an interview with The Citizen that they were optimistic that the coming local government will make immense difference to them as a political party, thanks to the recent development where the party witnessed a sudden expansion following the joining of a faction led by former CUF Secretary-General Seif Sharif Hamad. “More than 200,000 new members were received in the party,” said Mr Shaibu.

“Attracting these new members has been the crucial task of the party in recent days. We shall use these members not just as voters but also candidates to be voted on,” he added.

ACT-Wazalendo is now running a fundraising campaign as part of its preparation ahead of the civic elections. Mr Shaibu said activities like these are unavoidable for a party like his which receives a very small grant from the government – Sh4.2 million -- for it has very few members who hold positions in representation organs. For its part, the Civic United Front (CUF) has been working hard in preparing itself for the elections.

These preparation, according to CUF’s director of protocol and communications, Mr Abdul Kambaya, have been taking the forms of organising training for the party’s secretaries to build their capacity so that they can be able to ensure the party’s victory in the elections.

“What we are doing at the moment is honing our people’s skills so that we stand a better chance of making a difference in the upcoming elections despite the myriad challenges that we are going through,” said Mr Kambaya.

The main concern for many opposition leaders now is to have their candidates not be prevented from contesting in the elections so that CCM’s candidates pass unopposed and thus declared winners.

“We have already offered training to our people on the appropriate way to fill the election forms for we have learnt from our past experiences and we would not want them recurring again,” said Dr Mashinji.

All these strategies are taking place amid the hope of a coalition of the opposition parties ahead of the local government elections and the general elections in October 2020.

The talk of forming coalition has been around for a time now with ACT-Wazalendo’s party leader Zitto Kabwe and Chaumma national chairman Hashim Rungwe on the steering wheel. “The will is there and our party will hold a meeting on how we can cooperate with other opposition parties,” said Mr Rungwe when asked to comment on the status of the talk on forming a coalition. “Unity is strength and will sit down and make a decision. Working together is a good idea.”