Tanzania’s politics and the quest for the presidency


* This is the first part of an analysis by Evans Rubara into the succession issue in Tanzania

This was greeted by mixed reactions. The general public, especially the younger generation, the majority of whom favour the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), welcomed the announcement while words of caution were aired through the Head of State, Jakaya Kikwete on his public address in Tanga where he stated, “I hear your MP is vying for a bigger office. He has however not told me. That is ok, but he should not force things. When the time comes he will get the presidency but if it is not yet time, he will not get it”.

After much speculation and seeming “tug-of-war” for the presidency within CCM, a lengthy “expose” of the youthful presidential aspirant Makamba was published under the title, “Maswali 40 Majibu 40: Mazungumzo na January Makamba Kuhusu Tanzania Mpya (40 Questions 40 Answers: A Discussion with January Makamba on New Tanzania) by Father Privatus Karugendo. The latter is the centre of this analysis and the discussion to follow. 

To better understand this publication, we shall look first at the endorsement dynamics within party ranks on the eve of Makamba’s public bid for the presidency. Secondly, we shall discuss Makamba: the person and his understanding of the political environment in Tanzania. Thirdly, we shall look at Makamba and the presidency: his understanding of the role of the presidency. To conclude, the analysis will give a critical overview of Makamba’s “expose” as well as draw attention to a few things that could give the “expose” a different political clout.


Endorsement Dynamics 


Visible in Makamba’s bid for the presidency, is the possible struggle within the ruling party’s ranks for the country’s presidency. This can be seen in the statement made by President Kikwete revealing his lack of knowledge regarding the aspirations of the “young” Makamba’s bid for the presidency. But Makamba is not the only aspirant for the presidency within CCM, come October 2015 general elections. There are 19 others! Among these, six, including Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, Samuel Sitta, Hamisi Kigwangalla, Stephen Wassira, Lazaro Nyalandu, and January Makamba have publicly expressed interest in the presidency. The presidency is therefore, an in-party contested political environment. 

There are “diplomatic” suggestions of the presence of tug of war within CCM as to who should receive the presidency endorsement “award” for the imminent general elections in Tanzania, is the preface of Makamba’s “expose”. In the preface, Tanzania’s second president Ali Hassan Mwinyi indirectly issues his endorsement of January Makamba’s bid, and perhaps, right to bid for the presidency.

This he does by narrating how he nurtured Jakaya Kikwete into the presidency. In his own words, “I selected Jakaya Kikwete for the member of parliament, thereafter deputy minister at the age of 38, and then minister for water, energy and minerals at 40, then minister of finance. I did that not just because of his age but on the basis of raising future generations’ leaders”.

 Therefore, Makamba’s bid for the presidency should not be disregarded due to his age. Further, this could pass for an indirect appeal to President Kikwete not to discourage Makamba’s bid for presidency as he was also fostered into the presidency by his predecessors. 

Explicit reference is made in the preface, as well as other places in the “expose” about age. Ageism introduces another dynamic in Makamba’s bid. Traditionally and experientially, Africans have passed on an archaic belief that older – mature members of say 50 plus years are the best fit for the presidency. Age is therefore considered an epitome to knowledge and ability to lead a community. In this case, a nation.

In his response to his interviewer, Makamba frantically seeks to justify his maturity not only by pointing out the fact that he is in the literal sense mature both in age and politically. The clearest is his reference to being a loving husband and a responsible father. But Makamba also gives examples of politicians who made a difference both socially and politically at young ages – in the range of 29 to 40 years. These include Tanzanian Founding President Mwalimu Nyerere, Fidel Castro and Jesus Christ.

Against this belief, Makamba makes an unequivocal statement of his belief in ability-to-do than age factor. He says, “being a youth is not an attribute, maturity age-wise is not a scandal (and vice versa) leadership is a generational matter”.

 Makamba seems to understand this dynamic as well as recognising that he is outnumbered by the majority of presidential aspirants within his party CCM when it comes to age as well as long “sit-tight” politicians in CCM. On a live interview on BBC, Makamba explicitly stated that, “Kikwete’s ten year tenure in office has had its dynamics and the next ten years after him will also present a set of dynamics. This calls for a new generation leadership to be able to counter the 21 century challenges”.

 In a research carried out by Celebrating Progress in Africa (CP-Africa), the writer agrees to an extent with views expressed by Makamba by stating that “ageism against young people in Africa has many faces. One face is a long list of sit tight leaders in many African countries who continue to advance policies that are not in touch with the present realities and pace of innovation of today’s world”.

Apart from evidencing indecisiveness as to whom shall receive the Presidency bid ‘award’ young or old, the former Head of State is giving an advance political-apologia to counter any criticism from within the ruling party CCM, and from a wider party cadre circles – even from the current head of state, President Kikwete, on this apparent pre-endorsement – before the official endorsement by CCM’s National General Council. As well, the preface in Makamba’s ‘expose’ closes all doors to any possible speculation about Mwinyi’s ‘endorsement’ and admiration of Makamba as a person. Importantly, for Makamba’s courageous aspirations for the country’s most powerful office. 

Makamba: The Person 

What makes him think he is fit for the presidency in Tanzania? Undoubtedly, this is one of; if not the immediate question the public was confronted with at the annunciation of Makamba’s bid for the presidency. And rightly so. It is a professional, generational as well as a societal practice to ask this question whenever a big statement regarding leadership or even marriage is announced. Reading the ‘expose’ gives a good introduction to January Makamba, the man both as a lover of learning, a family man, a politician and a community development champion. 

Most importantly, Makamba has a broad understanding of the ills confronting the country socially, economically and politically. But there are concerns with regards to his understanding on the extent to which such ills have impacted the people of Tanzania. We shall come to this later. However, it is clear that he is up to date with the rising levels of political and religious schisms – even fundamentalism among the people of Tanzania. Division among the youth stands out as a real concern on his shoulders as registered in the ‘expose’. According to the ‘expose’ “Tanzanian youth are departmentalised into learned, illiterate […] religious, and political groups […] they don’t have one voice and have lack of a common denominator to act as a connector”. 

Apart from dissension among the youth, Makamba highlights among other things, lack of a deliberate plan by duty bearers in the political arena – especially the sitting government, to curb the rising levels of apathy in the way natural resources are managed , widening the economic gap between the rich and the poor, risky population influx in urban areas, escalation of incidents of graft, lack of transparency and equity in the distribution of profits from the exploitation of Tanzania’s natural resources.

 All these, and according to the ‘expose’, has placed Tanzania in a precarious social, political and economic position. “Our country is on Crossroad. In the next ten years, Tanzania can choose either to utilise the new findings of natural gas for economic progress and social stability, or be doomed into religious schisms, lack of trust on the government by the citizenry, failed union and widening gap between the rich and the poor”. – Pambazuka News (To be continued)

April 2015
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