Tanzania: Politics of Image or can we call it the Image Strategy? #CCM vs #Opposition

From: Abdalah Hamis

In hindsight, here is what I think…

So, I call this ‘the image strategy’, which is (I am almost convinced- qualitatively) one of the factors stabilizing CCM against the opposition. Although, I don’t closely follow Tanzanian party politics, I do check the headlines and sometimes look at the pictures. In fact, I think am moving towards observing through pictures and what I see more than reading whatever news media are writing on party politics or party leaders are saying.

CCM’s party secretariat has been on a “subtle” country tour meeting citizens, carrying out rallies, and engaging with them. The party General Secretary, Mr. A. Kinana has been busy out of office in the field talking to people on various issues. As I said, I don’t read much of what they tell people but I do look at the pictures. I must admit, I admire the pictures because I’ve seen him and other party secretariat staff taking the central rail train, building with people, farming with people using hoes, etc. Today, I peeped in Michuzi Blog and found pictures of them eating ugali on plastic plates and on benches with wananchi…

Now, let’s turn to our new “coalition of hope” (bringing several (major) opposition parties together) –UKAWA! So on Wednesday UKAWA had a rally in Moshi town. The main speaker was Dr. W. Slaa. What stroke me again, was not the message…as I said am no longer listening to what party leaders are saying…but the flamboyance of the helicopter, the cars surrounding and all that “big man” image displayed to perhaps “attracting” the mass to attend the rally or was it to make them “happy”…i.e. “partying mood”? Well, the next day while driving down from Machame to Moshi town with my brother, we met the convoy of UKAWA going to Arusha…the protocol was perfectly observed! There are no traffic jams in Moshi-Arusha roads but the convey was moving slowly…with not less than 3 “kilimo kwanza” V8 and one double cabin new modern Toyota decorated with flags of the parties.

Such stark differences between the ruling and the opposition cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, we do not have regular survey polls in Tanzania to determine how political parties or political leaders are fairing, but from hindsight it’s safe to say that CCM is stabilizing (Dr. K. Mkumbo did an excellent analysis of this after the recent ward bi-elections).

The possibility that CCM is stabilizing is a sad one. It is not healthy, democratically, for one party to stay in power for ages. This is a conventional knowledge so I won’t spend time discussing it here. But, I’m just worried that the opposition failed to cease windows of opportunity opened up to them and to keep the momentum gained in 2005 and 2010. Chadema did very well in 2010 (and that success could be traced back to 2005 when they put up presidential candidate, Mr. Mbowe, who really gave the party credibility and waved its flag in the entire country and the excellent performance by its MPs in particular Dr. Slaa and Mr. Kabwe in the parliament between 2005-10 exposing major corruption scandals and mining contract issues) and if the party could have kept the same momentum, it’s position in 2015 elections would have been much stronger- a force to reckon with. But now…I can’t say much…forming UKAWA speaks a lot!! Anyways…there is time to rework on the image! … this will need sober analysis and a listening ear from party leaders!

OR…randomly…am I the one missing the point entirely!! CCM is originally a left wing party (in theory)…(but in practice it has promoting neoliberal policies to its best…)!!! So may be CCM is going back to its original left-side starting by remaking its image??? The opposition… I do not know about the other UKAWA members ideological rhetorics, but Chadema has identified itself with the right even through its international “friendships”/associations…so may be (in a very simplified way)…it has to identify with “richness” … am rumbling now!!! Lemi stop

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