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Tuesday, 22 August, 2000, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Election fever grips Tanzania
Tanzania Labour Party, supporters in Dar es Salaam
War against corruption will dominate Tanzania's elections
By Roger Dean in Dar es Salaam

Official campaigning for Tanzania's forthcoming general election has kicked off with the ruling party and the main opposition alliance holding rallies in Dar es Salaam on Saturday.

On Sunday, it was the turn of one of the smaller parties, the Tanzania Labour Party (TLP) to attempt to woo the voters.

Spirits were high at the Kidongo Chekundu grounds in central Dar-es-Salaam- the youthful crowd danced in the dust as they awaited their leader, Mr Augustine Mrema.

Mr Mrema is a talisman for the TLP - his arrival from NCCR-Maguezi, another opposition party, lifted the TLP from political obscurity.

But the party is young, lively and enthusiastic, and is likely soon to have a presence in Tanzania's national assembly.

Election promises

The crowd kept swelling, eager to hear their party's election manifesto.

"Similar policies, but without the corruption," seems to be the message, and it is one which the other opposition parties might identify with as well.

Benjamin Mkapa
President Mkapa defends his government's record on corruption
The perception that the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party (CCM) are competent managers of the economy is a common one, but at the same time corruption affects everyone's lives.

Last month the outgoing European Union envoy to Tanzania, Peter Beck Christiansen, said that the cost of living in Tanzania is 20% higher because of corruption.

At the city's Jangwani grounds on Saturday, President Benjamin Mkapa took up the theme of tackling corruption, and defended his government's record.

The CCM executive recently disqualified 40 prospective MPs from standing for parliament on the party's ticket, citing widespread corruption in the selection procedure.

At their first rally on Saturday, Professor Lipumba of the CUF-Chadema alliance promised to "wage an endless war against corruption".

There are signs of a healthy democracy taking root in Tanzania.

The opposition rallies, despite some newspapers announcing their cancellation, were allowed to take place, and they passed off largely without incident.

However, like other opposition parties, the Labour party has a mountain to climb before it can become a serious threat to the ruling CCM.

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