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Watch Out For the Most Tightly Contested Election in Tanzania's History

Former Tanzanian Prime Minister and main opposition presidential candidate Edward Lowassa. Photo by TZA One and released under Creative Commons.

Former Tanzanian Prime Minister and main opposition presidential candidate Edward Lowassa. Photo by TZA One and released under Creative Commons.

Tanzania's October 25 General Election will be the most tightly contested election in the country's history after hugely popular former Prime Minister, Edward Lowassa, defected from the ruling party to join the main opposition bloc.

Lowassa defected in late July after he was eliminated from the list of presidential aspirants for the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). He announced his intention to run for the opposition bloc Chama Cha Demokrasia and Maendeleo (Chadema) shortly after.

Lowassa claims that he unfairly lost his bid to become the ruling party's candidate. He now represents a union of four political parties fighting for the adoption of a new constitution.

Given that Lowassa commands huge support, especially from young people, this is the first time during the history of multiparty politics that the country's opposition has a genuine chance of winning.

After Lowassa’s defection, a number of key members of the ruling party including Members of Parliament, councilors and regional officials followed him to Chadema.

His switchover has ruffled feathers, however.

Until recently, Chadema considered Lowassa corrupt and unprincipled. Chadema led calls for him to go when he was implicated in a corruption scandal that culminated in his resignation in 2009.

He has constantly denied that his office was involved in accepting kickbacks for a major energy contract from American company Richmond Development.

Some members of Chadema have left the party in protest.

But Chadema's chances may be boosted by the appearance of Juma Duni Haji as Lowassa's running mate.

Haji, who has run on opposition tickets in Tanzanian presidential elections in the past, was Minister of Infrastructure and Communications until Lowassa defected.

‘Liberation time is now’

Lowassa’s popularity was clearly noted when his nomination was endorsed by 1.5 million people.

The YouTube video below from AyoTV shows the day Lowassa got nomination forms:

Lowassa brought Dar Es Salaam to a halt. The only other time Dar Es Salaam had witnessed such a huge crowd was when U.S. President Barack Obama visited the country in 2013.

Social media networks are abuzz with excitement. If elections took place on Twitter, the outcome would be as good as determined.

Good God, our cry has been heard at last. Liberation time is now. Lets all vote on October 25.

Albert Gasper Msando compared Lowassa to Robin Hood and El Chapo:

Lowassa is a Maasai Robin Hood. Or Tanzanian El Chapo. Look at the hands he touches and not the toes he stepped on.

Mwamfupe Anyisile advised the ruling party:

They [the ruling party] should prepare themselves psychologically to leave the state house in peace without any force.

Given Edward wished:

4 Samaritan Lepers described Lowassa’s charisma thus:

DirectoR NiCKLASS touched on a stereotype that associates Chadema leaders with khaki fatigues:

Honorable Lowassa, Tanzanians are anxious to see you in khaki fatigues.

Responding to the argument that Chadema is not old enough to govern, Edward Lowassa himself said:

Those who say Chadema cannot govern because it is still young do not understand. TANU [the party that won Tanzanian’s independence] governed the country when it was 7 years old, Chadema is 23 years old.

Isack Danford tweeted:

Public defiance. Changes in the making. CCM should completely go, I don’t like them.

Mwamfupe Anyisile gave away her voting preference:

And Leylah Malweezy believes Lowassa has divine backing:

You are truly God’s choice, I even see you as president already. May God bless you to be the winner.

On a lighter note, George Roberts shared a photo showing Chadema’s unique choice of space for publicity:

But not everyone supports Lowassa and Chadema.

Responding to Musa Kilembo's observation that Lowassa has created a catch-22 for voters Evarist Chahali said:

Suphian Juma does not trust Lowassa:

While Bernard Matungwa wrote:

Nathaniel Imani took a jab at Lowassa’s past:

If you are sinful and corrupt, when you join Chadema you become a saint.

And Hamisi Kigwangalla is hopeful the ruling CCM will withstand the current crisis:

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