2020 Elections: Use etiquette and decorum in campaigns

Monday July 27 2020

 

By Saumu Jumanne Saumu.j@gmail.com

The season for the General Election is here again, a time when emotions often run high as voters support or reject some candidates.

Recently, National Electoral Commission (NEC) chairman Judge Semistocles Kaijage announced that on August 25, the body will approve presidential, parliamentary and councillors candidates nominated by their political parties. The body also announced the official campaign period is from August 26 to October 27, 2020. The General Election will be held on Wednesday, October 28.

All registered voters will have a chance to cast their ballots to elect their councillors, parliamentarians, and a president. President John Magufuli is running for re-election for his second and last 5-year term. For the councillors and parliamentarians seeking the seats, for most, they will have to fight it out in the campaigns to win the hearts and minds of the masses.

Often the campaigns are very passionate. Feelings get high. Talk of fever pitch. People are full of good or bad feelings about politicians. People often express support or distaste with politicians seeking to be elected. On the other hand, we have politicians who have to work hard to convince the masses so that they will be elected and not their rivals.

At the moment, political parties are busy conducting primaries that will yield them nominees to be presented before NEC ready for the real elections. Political air has been very active and charged. Before the big date, the electoral commission will officially declare the campaign period, where those selected by their parties for presidential, parliamentary or councillors, will have the mandate to persuade the masses to vote for them.

As the nation exercises its democratic rights, it’s important for every politician and every member of the public to remember that our Mother Tanzania means more than anything else, we are a peaceful nation and we use decorum in dealing with each other.

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It’s very paramount that both politicians and masses should refrain from abuses and foul languages, name-calling, and other bad political habits. It’s possible to compete politically while observing etiquette and decorum for our national good.

We live in the age of social media, and it’s very sad that we have seen some people in the campaign mood have forgotten decorum and are using foul language in reference to their rivals. As we use the public space internet, we should know and remember that they say “the internet never forgets.” Don’t write something or post a video or audio clip that will come to haunt you, today or many years later.

A huge number of Tanzanians have smartphones and politicians should remember that their words will be recorded in their campaign trail. What they say, will often be shared in the social media space, and thus it will either make or break them.

As a nation, there are qualities that have often defined us--peace, great self-respect, stateliness, a people of decorum etc. In the campaign mood, we should control ourselves and ensure that we maintain those qualities.

Why political decorum? We are decent people, so a decent nation. Political decorum is just asking both the politicians and the masses to behave politely. Thus, the two groups must refrain from using abusive or insulting and foul languages, name-calling, and any other bad political habits.

I urge them to really choose their words wisely before they speak, for the good of our nation. Spoken words can either inspire (create) or destroy! Good words are worth much, and cost nothing. Terry Brooks, a renowned American writer said it well “But words spoken can never be taken back. They can only be measured for and judged on the strength of their sincerity and need.”

Saumu Jumanne lectures at the Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE)