Opposition divided over presidential flag bearer in 2000

What you need to know:

Each of the towering figures in Opposition ranks - Augustine Mrema and Prof Ibrahim Lipumba- felt that he was better than the other as a presidential candidate in the 2000 polls...

Dar es Salaam. On January 14, 2000, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) unveiled the schedule of that year’s General Election.

 On the same day, the electoral body also announced that Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania would be dissolved on July 28.

 The dissolvent of Parliament was to pave the way for preparations of the polls for which various political parties started to prepare.

 Announcing about the schedule, NEC lawyer Abraham Senguji said that in accordance with the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, even after Parliament was dissolved, the president would continue to be in power until he handed over that power to his successor.

However, Senguli warned that during the campaigns the president would continue to be in power and that if the Head of State would decide to seek reelection, then he would not be allowed to use the vehicles and the flag of the government during the campaigns.

Instead, the NEC lawyer said, the president would be allowed to use the vehicles and the flag of the party that would field him to seek reelection.

Senguli said NEC would provide security for presidential contestants as it was done during the 1995 polls.

NEC’s unveiled schedule was taken by different political parties as the kick-off of finding suitable presidential contestants towards the October 2000 General Election.

The whistle of finding the presidential flag-bearer of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) for the polls was blown on Wednesday, April 19, 2000.Due to that, the party members, who were interested in contesting the highest office of the land were required to collect forms from the Secretary General of the party.

“CCM members wishing to be picked to vie for the presidency of the United Republic of Tanzania ... are required to start collecting forms on April 20 and the deadline for returning the forms is May 21, this year (2000) before 4pm,” said CCM Publicity Secretary Jackson Msome.

However, those members of the party, who were interested in vying for the presidency, had to dig deeper into their pockets as they were required to pay Sh1 million for the nomination forms.

On April 30, the chairman of CCM, President Benjamin Mkapa, announced that he had accepted to collect forms so he could seek reelection.

Speaking to members of the party at the party Chamwino Branch, to which he belonged as a member, Mkapa said he picked the forms late after he was asked to do so by CCM members at the Kivukoni Branch in Dar es Salaam.

Mkapa gave the reason that he was first waiting to hear what his Chamwino fellow members would tell him.

The members of the Chamwino Branch organised the meeting in order to ask Mkapa to seek reelection and congratulate him on his good record as a leader who had helped Tanzania’s economy to strengthen and take a positive direction.

They also lauded Mkapa for controlling inflation and participating in reviving the East African Community (EAC).


Mrema’s presidential bid

On February 13, Tanzania Labour Party (TLP) party chairman Augustine Mrema, speaking to reporters at his party offices at Manzese-Argentina in Dar es Salaam, said the only way for the opposition to enter State House and take control of the state was join his party and eject CCM through the ballot box.

“I have a capital of 1.8 million votes for the presidency as the capital has highly increased now. Those who were pushing the car of and carrying Mrema are now voting. “Those aged 15 in 1995 are now voting ... anyone who wants to be president - let him come to TLP,” Mrema bragged...

“There are those who say that when Mrema is asleep and even when he is awake he dreams of Ikulu.

“For Ikulu, I’m ready. Come all experts from within and without the country. We can form a special secretariat to screen us. If it is found that someone is better than Mrema to get us through in the polls, I will support him or her.

 ”Although until March 16 Mrema was undecided whether or not to contest the presidency or a parliamentary seat in the polls, his party nominated him to vie for the presidency of the United Republic of Tanzania.


CUF and Chadema coalition

In the struggle to obtain the opposition presidential candidate, on Monday, July 10, CUF and Chadema parties agreed they would have shared national leadership positions had they won in the 2000 polls.

At their press meeting on the day, Chadema chairman Bob Makani and his CUF counter-part, Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, said the sharing of the leadership positions was based on their contract on fielding one presidential aspirant.

They said their contract would be signed on July 31 in the same year and that CUF’s Nassoro Hamis Mohamed would be running mate of Prof Lipumba.

Makani said the agreement on leaving CUF to contest both positions was due to the Constitutional condition that did not allow a presidential contestant and a running mate to come from two separate political parties.

On May 13, CUF Chairman Prof Lipumba was the first leader from the opposition to announce to pick forms to contest the presidency of the United Republic of Tanzania in the polls.

Prof Lipumba’s action was taken as a betrayal by some opposition leaders. However, he defended himself by saying that his action did not mean to betray the other opposition parties in having one presidential aspirant.

He said, “You know, it is not easy for the opposition to get one presidential contestant because it has so many aspirants. However, it is easier for opposition par-ties to get separate presidential aspirants by a committee to be formed to screen them well and ultimately obtain the right presidential flagbearer of the opposition,” said Prof Lipumba.

However, on June 7 Prof Lipumba made another statement, saying that even if he would not be supported by other opposition parties, he was sure of winning the presidency over Benjamin Mkapa in the polls.

On Wednesday, August 2, CUF and Chadema met at the Kidongo Chekundu grounds in the City of Dar es Salaam to sign an agreement on cooperation during the polls. They branded the contract the ‘Coalition of liberation in 2000’.

In the contract the parties agreed to cooperate in six areas including fielding one contest-ant and one running mate for the presidency of the United Republic and fielding one contestant for the presidency of Zanzibar.

The parties also agreed on fielding one parliamentary aspirant in every constituency/membership in the House of Representatives, one aspirant for councillorship, a brief election manifesto, ethics and cooperation.

The parties agreed to field Prof Lipumba as their presidential contestant for the Union presidency and Seif Sharif Hamad for the presidency of Zanzibar and that the Prime Minister would come from Chadema.

Those, who signed the agreement were Chadema Chairman Bob Makani; CUF Chairman Prof Lipumba; Chadema Secre-tary General Dr Aman Kabourou and CUF Secretary General Seif Sharif Hamad.

The trustees of the parties were Alphonce Masikini (Chadema) and Baltazar Raphael (CUF).On March 10, the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Judge Lewis Makame, announced that the Government would spend Sh42 billion on footing the costs of the October 29, 2000 polls.

Of the cash, he said 7.65 per-cent came from different donors outside the country hence the Government of Tanzania would provide 92.35 percent of the money on the General Election.

Naila Majid Jidawi stepped forward to contest the presidency of Zanzibar on the NCCR-Mageuzi ticket, but was thrown out by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC).

ZEC Chairman Abdulrahman Mwinyi Jumbe said they took the decision after hearing arguments given by Awadh Said, who was the lawyer of the presidential contestant on the CUF ticket, Seif Sharif Hamad.

Hamad argued that Jidawi was still a member of CUF hence the latter was not obliged to contest the presidency of Zanzibar on the NCCR-Mageuzi ticket.

Legal records showed that Jidawi was expelled from the CUF membership in 1998, but was reinstated as a member after opening a case at the High Court. Due to that reason, Bibi Naila was ejected from the presidential race as in the end the party did neither field any candidate to contest the presidency of the United Republic nor the presidency of Zanzibar.

Until the day of Zanzibar’s presidential election, the presidential contenders were Seif Sharif Hamad (CUF) and Amani Abeid Karume (CCM).

However, for the Union presidency on the Election Day were Benjamin Mkapa (CCM), who was seeking reelection; Prof Ibrahim Lipumba (CUF); Augustine Mrema (TLP) and John Cheyo (UDP).

Previously, Cheyo was in the coalition of CUF and Chadema to field one presidential candidate for the presidency of the United Republic, but withdrew later from the coalition for what he claimed he could not cooperate with CUF because of its “jino kwa jino” policy, which, he said, stood for political instigation, causing chaos in the country.