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Tanzania Opposition Chadema to Launch Campaign Saturday

FILE - Edward Lowassa, shown addressing the U.N. General Assembly in 2006, is seen as a divisive figure in the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party but remains popular and has done well at fundraising.

Tanzania’s main opposition Chadema political party will officially launch its campaign for the October 25 general election Saturday in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

Tumaini Makene, Chadema Party spokesman, says his group aims to present a united front with other opposition parties known as UKAWA, to challenge and break the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party’s dominance.

Senior officials of the party and other prominent opposition leaders plan to participate in the campaign launch, according to Makene. He says the party, which campaigns on the platform of change, represents the hopes and aspirations of many Tanzanians, who he says are fed up with the country’s poor and ineffective leadership from the ruling CCM.

“People are coming from all parts of the country to witness what is going to be happening. It will be broadcast live on television and radio,” said Makene.

Lowassa emerges

Former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa who recently defected to the opposition party, from the CCM is expected to lead Chadema in the presidential election. A few opposition leaders have since resigned their positions in Chadema, citing Lowassa’s defection to the party.

But Makene says Lowassa defected with a big cross section of supporters from the CCM. He says the defection serves as a significant boost to the opposition before the poll.

Professor Xavery Lwaitama of the Josiah Kibira University College says the defection of the former prime minister causes a seismic political shift in both the ruling party and the opposition alliance.

Lwaitama also says Lowassa’s influence in the ruling party slices the chances of the CCM in the general election, which he says tilts the balance in favor of the opposition alliance in the vote.

“That is one of the political earthquakes that are expected when a big shot like the former prime minister leaves a ruling party like the CCM,” said Lwaitama.

Registration continues

An estimated 24 million prospective voters have been registered, after the electoral body compiled a voter’s list to be used for the election.

Makene says the ruling party has lost legitimacy, which he says could undermine the party’s efforts to maintain its dominance. He also expressed confidence that with support from other opposition parties known as UKAWA, Chadema is likely to defeat the CCM in the upcoming vote.

“As time goes on the opposition is gaining [strength] but the CCM is losing its influence and becoming weaker. I can tell you CCM has lost political influence, not only that but CCM has been able to lose political legitimacy, which is very much important in politics. Meanwhile, Chadema has been able to gain political legitimacy from the Tanzania people, “said Makene.

But supporters of the CCM say the party knows how to win elections, adding that this time would not be different. They dismissed Lowassa’s defection as good riddance, after accusing the former prime minister of being tainted with corruption. Lowassa denies the allegation.

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