CCM flexes its muscles

                   Lolensia Bukwimba (CCM) celebrates her victory with supporters

(Photo by The Citizen)

In the last two months, a couple of polls made everyone excited after they seemed to indicate that CCM’s stranglehold on power may be slowly eroding. I wrote about this here and here. The two by-elections held recently presented a perfect opportunity to test this proposition. And in both cases, CCM proved that the talks of a crisis were way premature. 
In the Magogoni by-election in Zanzibar, the ruling party’s candidate, Asha Mohamed Hillal, secured a convincing 58% of the vote to defeat her Civic United Front (CUF) opponent. And at Busanda, Lolensia Bukwimba won a comfortable 10-point victory against Chadema’s Finias Magesa. In the latter case, a strong showing in the rural areas managed to guarantee victory for CCM while Chadema’s support seems to have been confined mostly within the urban centres.
What do these two results tell us? Put it simply, the ruling party still retains the trust and confidence of most Tanzanians. All this talk of CCM struggling and so on is for the most part a media construction. As Dr. Mohamed Bakari of The University of Dar-es-Salaam (UDSM) told The Citizen:

CCM still enjoyed wide support in rural areas, adding that the ruling party took full advantage of this fact in elections. 

He said CCM’s win was not entirely surprising as media reports on campaigns concentrated to what was happening in semi-urban areas.

The opposition were unable to get through to these rural voters. Since 80% of Tanzanians are a rural people, to win, they have to come up with a coherent vision that will appeal to them. As of now, they don’t have one. Hence, the defeats in Magogoni and Busanda. And until they do so, CCM will exploit this vulnerability all the way to another landslide in 2010. 
But one thing that I think all of us ought to celebrate is the fact that we have elected two more women to parliament. Our democracy is certainly better for it. 

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