DAR ES SALAAM - Tanzanians head to the polls Sunday and the election is the primary topic of conversation these days. Voters will determine whether to keep ruling party CCM in power or if they will instead choose the opposition party, Chadema. Some are calling Chadema the party of the youth, but is it?
The campaigns are wrapping up, final rallies were held Saturday, and Tanzanians are engaging in one primary topic of conversation: Sunday’s election.
Tanzania’s Minister of Works John Magufuli is the presidential candidate for long-time ruling party CCM. Opposition party Chadema selected former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa as its candidate.
But Chadema has one particular demographic for which it is known, according to central committee member Mwesiga Baregu.
“Chadema and the opposition parties in general — the youth. They’re the parties of the youth,” he said.
In Tanzania, the opposition has waited a long time for its chance at the presidency. In the past four elections since the country’s return to multiparty politics in 1992, CCM has always prevailed.
And according to 18-year-old Pili Mohamed, that’s long enough.
“I like Chadema because we want movement for change,” said Mohamed.
But 32-year-old CCM supporter Junior Emilkondo says the real problem is that Chadema voters don’t know what kind of change they want.
“Those young boys, they’re born like 1995. This is the time for voting, and then you can see, they’re just new stuff,” said Emilkondo.
Dominista Rael disagrees, saying there need to be improvements in the country’s education and health systems. She believes Lowassa is the right man for the job.
“He has a good heart, because he said that he will give the education free, and the hospital,” she said.
Twenty-one-year-old Boniface Blandes, a student at Dodoma University, is quite pleased with CCM’s work over the past 10 years.
“Okay, let me give you an example," he said. "At my place, my origin place, in Kagara, at our village, there was no electricity for about decades. But now, every village has electricity, water supply, the infrastructures are good. So they are really, really great."
Some older Tanzanian voters, like CCM supporter Margaret Edward, argue that many of the young Chadema voters lack a strong work ethic.
“If you work, you get. If you’re idle, you can’t. Because if you want the good things, you have to work hard so that you get,” she said.
According to the World Bank, Tanzania's population between the ages of 14 and 25 years old almost doubled in 20 years — from 4.4 million in 1990 to 8.1 million in 2010. It is expected to increase to 11 million by 2020 -— numbers that should be of great interest to Tanzania’s politicians, regardless of political party.