It’s battle of the Titans in Kawe as Gwajima faces ‘Iron Lady’ Mdee

Thursday October 1 2020

 

By Bakari Kiango

Dar es Salaam. During the 2010 polls, outspoken politician Halima Mdee of the Opposition Chadema quit being a Member of Parliament on Special Seats.

Ms Mdee, instead, decided to vie for the Kawe Parliamentary seat on the Chadema ticket. However, Ritha Mlaki of CCM, who was to face Mdee, chose not to contest for the seat.

Ms Angela Kizigha was nominated by CCM to vie for the seat in the place of Mlaki, facing James Mbatia of NCCR-Mageuzi, who wanted to return to Parliament, which he entered for the first time in 1995 as Vunjo MP.

In the parliamentary seat poll results, Mdee was declared winner by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) after convincing the constituents that she would help improve infrastructure, health services, create more jobs and control the arbitrary sales of land.

During the 2015 polls, Mdee was re-elected as the Kawe MP after battling for votes against various opponents including Kippi Warioba of CCM, who had been viewed as the biggest threat to her.

Mdee continued to represent the constituency with the Wards of Bunju, Kawe, Kunduchi, Mabwepande, Makongo, Mbezi Juu, Mbweni, Mikocheni, Msasani and Wazo.

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Mdee is a gifted orator with an eloquence with which she has distinguished her work in Parliament. She is a go getter and street smart when it comes to wooing voters across the board. She has also distinguished herself as a voice for the less privileged and is a staunch crusader to women.... climbing the ladder to head Chadema Women’s Wing known as ‘Bawacha.’

Its against this force that the charismatic and controversial leader of the ‘Uzima na Ufufuo’ Church is swimming with hope of turning the tables against the two-term MP.

The popularity of the two aspirants in Kawe adds the colour to this year’s contest and each of the parties have bragged to show the other ‘dust’ come October 28.

While Mdee is proud of her political experience and convincing power that comes from her courage of venting grievances publicly, the influence of Bishop Gwajima comes from his work and courage that manifested itself after facing various troubles in recent years.

As he aims to become a Member of Parliament on the CCM ticket, the road was not easy for the preacher of God’s word as he collapsed after being announced to have collected 79 votes in CCM’s primaries.

He became third far behind little-known Furaha Dominick, who led with 101 votes, and Angela Kizigha, who participated in the polls for the second time and got 85 votes.

“First of all, life is step by step,” said Bishop Gwajima after collecting forms to seek nomination from CCM’s National Executive Committee (NEC). He would later be selected by the party ahead of the two fellow CCM members to represent the party in the election.

Bishop Gwajima gained fame through the claimed ‘spiritual miracles’ he was performing in his church including ‘bringing back those taken away through witchcraft’.

Apart from his religious influence, Gwajima’s notoriety has been in public confrontation of other spiritual and public or government leaders. He did not shy away from telling of Cardinal Pengo of the Catholic Church when the latter attempted to distance himself from a communiqué issued by the Tanzania Episcopal Conference.

Gwajima was questioned for insulting the senior spiritual leader. However, the matter was resolved and recently in his campaigns he was seen visiting the Cardinal in company of another of his sparring partner and former Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Paul Makonda. The act was widely interpreted as an attempt to seek forgiveness and appeal to the constituents.

Gwajima also faced off with Makonda in the past when the former RC ordered an investigation into the activities of the bishop. This was during the time when several public personalities had been singled out by the RC for investigation over alleged drug deals.

Whether their newly found friendship will help him in the parliamentary contest remains to be seen.

But it is his same controversial nature that Bishop Gwajima’s opponents are using to try to casts him in bad light and scare away would be voters from supporting him. Perhaps looking back he would regret remarks he made in the past swearing not to run for MP as the position was below his ranking.

In Chadema’s opinion polls, Mdee led by collecting 63 votes, equivalent to 71.5 percent, followed by Doricus Mwilafi (13 votes; 14.7pc), Joel Mwakalebele (7 votes; 7.9pc) and Felsta Njau (5 votes; 5.6pc).

“I was not picked because I have big influence in the party,” she said during her party’s second campaign rally held at Kawe Ward, where she also talked about a thrown out appeal against her.

Her opponents, including Gwajima, claim the MP has failed to come forth with a record of her long service. They say there are still many problems facing residents of Kawe. Countering, recently Mdee published on social media a list of the promises she fulfilled during her tenure.

Even the long-lasting Chasimba land dispute has been sorted out.

Kawe constituency is in Kinondoni District. The constituency is estimated to have 321,434 female voters and 303,957 male voters, according to 2016 data by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).