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Friday, 27 October, 2000, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Tanzania after Nyerere
Newspaper stand on Zanzibar
Zanzibaris keep up with the latest developments
By East Africa Correspondent Cathy Jenkins

Tanzanians go to the polls on Sunday in the first post-independence election which has not taken place under the shadow of founding president Julius Nyerere.

More than 10 million people have registered to vote to choose a 231-seat parliament, local government leaders and a president for the union of Tanzania, which consists of the mainland and the semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar.

Augustine Mrema
Mrema: Second chance as election challenger
At the same time the 500,000 Zanzibari voters will cast a second ballot to elect a parliament and president for the islands.

Impoverished for decades under Julius Nyerere, the first president who pursued a socialist programme after the country's 1961 independence, Tanzania has recently been praised for its economic reforms.

The country is also seen as a bastion of stability and calm in a region where ethnic conflicts often reign. There are some 120 different tribes but a marked lack of tribal tensions.

President Benjamin Mkapa, a former schoolteacher, and the leader of the ruling CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) party, appears confident of winning a second term.

Julius Nyerere
Nyerere remained a political force until his death a year ago
In the last elections in 1995 he enjoyed the personal endorsement of Julius Nyerere. For the first time following Mr Nyerere's death last year, he is standing outside his mentor's shadow.

But he thinks that his Western-led economic reforms, which have seen the privatisation of many public companies, and increased foreign investment, will carry him to victory.

Opposition split

Political analysts say that President Mkapa will also be helped by the fact that the opposition is split. There are three opposition presidential candidates.

  • Augustine Mrema, of the Tanzania Labour Party, was President Mkapa's main challenger in 1995. This time around he is seen to be weaker following his split from the NCCR-Mageuzi Party.
  • Ibrahim Lipumba of the Civic United Front (CUF), is a professor of economics.
  • John Cheyo challenges for the United Democratic Front (UDF).
The opposition parties have complained of bias against them in the state-run media.

Challenges

Benjamin Mkapa
President Mkapa: Could benefit from divisions within the opposition
The winner of the election will continue to face enormous problems and challenges. While Tanzania's gold and mineral reserves, its vast arable lands and its gameparks and other tourist attractions have yet to be fully developed, the country continues to be burdened by a bureaucracy full of corruption.

The main coastal city of Dar es Salaam boasts cyber cafes and a proliferation of mobile phones, but between 15 and 18 million Tanzanians - roughly half of the population - live below the World Bank poverty line of 65 US cents per day. Education and health services are in crisis.

Zanzibar tensions

CUF supporter
The opposition CUF is hoping for victory in the islands
On Zanzibar, the CCM presidential candidate, Aman Abeid Karume, could face a stiff challenge from the opposition CUF candidate Seif Shariff Hamad.

The CUF maintains that the CCM only won the last elections because it rigged the vote - a view broadly supported by Western donors which suspended funds.

Human rights groups have also criticised the CCM for the detention of 18 opposition figures on charges of treason. It's on the Indian Ocean islands that tensions could flare on election day.

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See also:

15 Sep 00 | Africa
Tensions high in Zanzibar
22 Aug 00 | Africa
Election fever grips Tanzania
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