The Most Boring Election in East Africa

26 October 2010 at 07:00 6 comments

By Ann Hingst, KF12 Tanzania

While many Americans will spend next Sunday, October 31, trick-or-treating, Tanzanians will be headed to the polls.  October 31, 2010 marks a general election for Tanzania, and voters will choose their President for the next five-year term.  It is widely anticipated that the incumbent, Jakaya Kikwete, will be re-elected for his second and final term.  Tanzania has been a de facto one-party state since its independence in 1961.  Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), or the Party of the Revolution, has produced all of Tanzania’s presidents since Julius Nyerere, Baba wa Taifa (Father of the Nation), whom many credit with establishing a united and peaceful nation.  Not a very dramatic story, is it?

Billboards asking Tanzanians to "Select CCM/Select Kikwete" abound in Dar es Salaam.

Around Dar es Salaam, it is easy to see that CCM is the dominant party with the most funds, as its campaign is very conspicuous.  There are six other presidential candidates, most of whom are campaigning on a much smaller scale.  Willibrod Slaa of Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA), the Party for Democracy and Progress, and Ibrahim Lipumba of Chama Cha Wananchi, Civic United Front (CUF), are also much farther ahead in the contest than other candidates.  However, any party other than CCM is very unlikely to gain much influence, either through the presidency or in the parliament.  Are you yawning yet?

There’s not too much that’s riveting about this election, but what does all of this mean for Kiva partner Tujijenge Tanzania Ltd and other microfinance institutions in Tanzania?  Well, it is likely to be business as usual.  Kikwete is supportive of microfinance schemes, indicating them as key to increasing employment, through self-employment and empowerment.  There has been a call for the government to establish a body that would regulate microfinance organizations, with a focus on discouraging exorbitant interest rates.  However, Tujijenge is not one of the institutions that is targeted.  Therefore, it is unlikely that any policies that Tujijenge adheres to will change.  I’ve been asking many of Tujijenge’s employees how the election might affect them and their work at Tujijenge, and I’m typically met with…boredom.

A drama-free election in East Africa is certainly rare.  The 2007 presidential election in Kenya ended in violence along tribal lines when an opposition party prematurely announced it had ousted the incumbent.  In the end, the incumbent won, though it is widely believed the election was rigged.  A former Kiva Fellow in Kenya describes the post-election crisis. In Uganda, incumbent Museveni won the 2006 presidential election, but not without an outbreak of violence around accusations of intimidating the opposition party by holding the challenger on charges of treason and rape.  On August 9 of this year, incumbent Paul Kagame was re-elected amid the suspicious murders of two opposition figures.

So, though this year’s Tanzanian election is “boring” in comparison to other recent elections in East Africa, the peacefulness with which the event is anticipated to pass is welcome indeed.  Tanzanians are very peaceful, eschewing tribal divisions in favor of embracing a national identity.  This is a unique and commendable history, especially given Tanzania’s immediate neighbors.

So, it’s business as usual at Tujijenge.  In that spirit, consider lending to a Tujijenge Tanzania entrepreneur today!

Ann Hingst is a Kiva Fellow serving at Tujijenge Tanzania in Dar es Salaam.  She is currently planning a Halloween party so that she doesn’t have to be bored on Election Day.

Entry filed under: blogsherpa, KF12 (Kiva Fellows 12th Class), Tanzania, Tujijenge Tanzania Ltd.

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6 Comments

  • 1. Dian Fossey’s Got Nothing on Me « annhingst's Blog  |  1 November 2010 at 12:16

    […] in Dar.  In other news, there was a presidential election in Tanzania yesterday.  You can read my blog entry for the Kiva Fellows Program for more detail (and for some excellent entertainment, because I apparently struck a nerve with a […]

  • 2. Lucy  |  27 October 2010 at 08:09

    I can understand where u where going, I just think u should be more careful about what you are leaving out. And on the irony you are trying to create, you are pocking at the idea of people only being interested in issues only when there are massive problems especially when it comes to African countries, which is an actual problem. So ya..am sorry if I don’t find that very funny. Sorry if that makes me too uptight

  • 3. brittanygoesglobal  |  27 October 2010 at 00:15

    Ann,

    This is one of the most clever, well thought-out, and intelligent posts I have ever written on the Kiva Fellows blog. You are indeed a gem and we are so lucky to have you at Kiva.

    Kiva love,
    Brittany

    • 4. brittanygoesglobal  |  27 October 2010 at 00:15

      ………..and by written, I mean read. hahaha.

  • 5. Lucy Lawrence  |  26 October 2010 at 08:53

    Where are you located exactly or should I ask which planet? if you are actually in Dar es salaam ..then you should work a little harder to get connected to whats actually going on before you decide to post your opinions publicly especially on a site like this.
    This election posses one of the biggest challenges that CCM has ever faced and what you are presenting is undermining people’s efforts. Unless if there being no blood shed is not interesting enough for you yet.

    • 6. annhingst  |  26 October 2010 at 23:06

      Lucy, thank you for your comment. It was not my intention to ignore that there is legitimate opposition to CCM, but merely to present what most (my Tanzanian colleagues and friends, as well as the majority of the press) perceive to be the likely outcome of the upcoming election, and the reality of how it will or will not affect the operations and policies of the Kiva partner MFI with which I’m working. My second intention was to highlight Tanzania as a nation that embraces unity, especially when issues around tribal divisions are common in East Africa. The use of “boring” is intended as irony. Perhaps in this, or a future, election, CCM opposition will make even further progress, which will indeed be interesting to observe!


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