Chadema and ACT face tricky decision on joint Presidential candidate for 2020 polls

Saturday August 15 2020

 

By Louis Kolumbia

Dar es Salaam. Chadema and ACT-Wazalendo face a hard task of choosing appropriate cooperation modalities out of the few available in order to overcome future challenges to field one presidential candidate ahead of the 2020 General Election.

 The two political parties are discussing areas of cooperation that would enable them field one presidential candidate for the union and Zanzibar as well as supporting stronger candidates for parliamentary seats, Representative Council and councillorship.

However, Chadema presidential candidate for the United Republic Tundu Lissu and ACT-Wazalendo’s party leader Zitto Kabwe recently expressed doubts over some presidential candidates and those for parliamentary seats, stating that there’s a possibility for them being disqualified by the National Electoral Com- mission (NEC).

Speaking during Chadema’s general congress held at the Mlimani City Conference Centre, Mr Lissu said presidential candidates faced disqualification challenge by the country’s electoral body, though he insisted that they won’t accept such hurdles.

He repeated a similar message when addressing the ACT-Wazalendo delegation of the general congress at the Diamond Jubilee Hall, calling for the two parties to conclude their discussions.

However, on Tuesday, Mr Lissu cautioned NEC to avoid implementation of plans to eliminate party’s candidates in the efforts to rescue the ruling party. He made the statement when addressing cadres, members and supporters in Igunga,

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Tabora region, saying Tanzanians would like to get leaders through ballots casted during the General Election. “NEC should distance itself from plans to eliminate our candidates like what they did during last year’s civic polls.

Arbitrary elimination of our candidates in order to favour CCM will not be accepted this time,” he said. Through his Twitter account, Mr Kabwe said they had reports that NEC was planning to lockout candidates for presidential and parliamentary seats from some opposition parties ahead of this year’s General Election.

“I should caution Judge Kaijage (NEC chairman Semistocles) to avoid legalizing this injustice; otherwise there would be ‘No Elections’,” he wrote.

According to him, reliable sources within NEC and circles in the security services reliably informed him on future plans. While Chadema has endorsed Mr Lissu as presidential candidate for the United Republic, former Foreign Affairs minister Bernard Membe has been approved to stand for ACT-Wazalendo.

ACT-Wazalendo chairman Seif Shariff Hamad has been endorsed party’s Zanzibar presidential candidate, while Chadema’s vice chairman (Zanzibar) Said Issa Mohamed will stand for the presidency in the Isles.

But, the two political parties should choose, either to officially declare their cooperation after its candidates (Lissu and Membe) have been approved by NEC or they should do so before.

The first modality could be preferable if elimination threats are a reality, because they would remain with a single candidate to represent their cooperation if one candidate is barred from participating in the elections.

Choosing a single candidate could leave both political parties without a presidential candidate if the chosen hopeful under the second option is eliminated by the country’s electoral body. However, NEC director of Elections, Dr Wilson Charles refuted any plots to disquali- fy opposition candidates for presidency and parliamentary seats.

 “They will be equally treated like how it was during provision of nomination forms. Both presidential and parliamentary seat candidates are only required to meet required qualifications,” he said.

 But, ACT-Wazalendo secretary general Ado Shaibu said the modality would be decided after conclusion of discussions between the two opposition political parties.

 He said they could decide not to collect nomination forms, not to return the papers and even declare to support another candidate after endorsement because procedures are open.

 “There are several avail- able options. But they depend on agreement that will be made during our discussions, because time is not our ally,” he said.

 He said time was limited for Political Parties ACT (PPA) to form a formal cooperation; the informal model of cooperation was the only solution of collaboration during this year’s general election. Chadema’s deputy secretary general (Mainland) Benson Kigaila declined to comment on the matter saying it was unfair for him to give opinions on the subject that was still under discussion.

 “I’m a disciplined leader who knows the meaning of discus- sions. I can’t come out of the discussion room, issue my opinion and return for deliberations. I will speak for both sides when assigned to do so after discussions have been completed,” he said.

 But, a political science lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Prof Bakari Mohamed said under the current political environment candidates could be eliminated without sound reasons. He suggested both candidates seek NEC nominations and respective political parties declare their collaborations after NEC’s endorsement.

“Our political environment, laws, electoral body and judi- cial systems give the possibil- ity for disqualification to happen. NEC will continue with pending plans regardless of concerns raised by opposition candidates,” he said.

 However, he warned that such decisions could lead to chaos and disorder, cautioning authorities to be careful. He said although the country’s political environment allows prediction of winners, most political parties work on the small percentage indicating the possibility of losing elections.

“They do so regardless of the percentage. This is because there are countries with a simi- lar environment to ours, but political changes caught them unawares,” he said.

 He further voice that political parties in power always worked on the possibilities, being part of the risk mitigation measures in order to contain unexpected outcomes.

For his part, the University of Dodoma (Udom) political science lecturer, Dr Godfrey Sansa dismissed feelings that there were plans to disqualify any of the opposition presidential and parliamentary candidates; terming the move as a very high political risk.

“Once the ruling CCM opt for legal measures against any presidential candidate (Mr Lissu or Mr Membe), they will provoke negative feelings from citizens (voters). I think this will be avoided at all costs especially for a veteran political party like CCM that has competent political analysts,” he said.

However, he said such measures could be used during the transitional elections which are most of the time complicated for both the opposition and the ruling party.

He suggested the opposition work on pending legal matters if any instead of waiting for public sympathy because laws don’t choose time of execution.

Dr Sansa suggested that the two political parties should leave Mr Hamad to stand for the Zanzibar presidency because the Isles were ACT- Wazalendo’s stronghold and that Mr Lissu should represent the Mainland.

According to him, both political parties could leave individual candidates (Membe and Lissu) to stand for individual political parties, if their aim would be consolidating their base ready for the 2025 General Election.