Tanzania: presidential hopefuls in election race

October 29, 2015 6:00 am
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Magufuli, who comes from Tanzania's northwestern Chato district, on the shores of Lake Victoria, was awarded a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Dar es Salaam. He spent some time studying at Britain's University of Salford.
Magufuli, who comes from Tanzania’s northwestern Chato district, on the shores of Lake Victoria, was awarded a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Dar es Salaam. He spent some time studying at Britain’s University of Salford.

, DAR-ES-SALAAM, Oct 29 – Tanzania’s elections were thrown into turmoil Wednesday after the semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago annulled results and said it needed fresh polls.

The ballots, held on Sunday, were seen as the tightest electoral race in the east African nation’s history.

Change is inevitable with outgoing President Jakaya Kikwete not running, having served his constitutional two-term limit. Here are some of the key figures.

JOHN MAGUFULI

As candidate for the long-ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, the 55-year old Magufuli is seen as the most likely contender to win the top job.

Currently Tanzania’s minister of works — for which he earned the nickname “The Bulldozer” — he was not initially seen as a frontrunner, but won the CCM nomination from a field of nearly 40 other candidates.

In a bid to show his strength and refute allegations he was not physically fit for the top job, during his campaign trail he performed push ups to cheering crowds.

Magufuli, who comes from Tanzania’s northwestern Chato district, on the shores of Lake Victoria, was awarded a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Dar es Salaam. He spent some time studying at Britain’s University of Salford.

But he has also stressed the ordinariness of his upbringing.

“Our home was grass thatched and like many boys I was assigned to herd cattle, as well as selling milk and fish to support my family,” he told one of his final campaign rallies.

“I know what it means to be poor. I will strive to help improve people’s welfare.”

A member of parliament since 1995 and a devout Roman Catholic, he has also taught in a secondary school and as an industrial chemist.

He has held various cabinet portfolios, including livestock, fisheries and land.

EDWARD LOWASSA

Ex-prime minister Edward Lowassa, a long-time CCM stalwart, defected in July to the opposition Chadema party, and leads the Ukawa coalition.

In resigning, 61-year-old Lowassa denounced the CCM as “infested with leaders who are dictators, undemocratic and surrounded with greedy power mongers.”

He himself was prime minister of the east African country, from 2005 until his resignation in 2008 over corruption allegations that he denied. The corruption charges earned him the nickname “Lo-rushwa” – with “rushwa” meaning bribe in Swahili.

He was chosen in August to lead a coalition of opposition parties.

While analysts say he is providing the first credible challenge to the CCM since the introduction of multi-party democracy in 1995, critics point out that Lowassa does not represent much of a break with the past.

The son of a herdsman, Lowassa comes from the Monduli district, part of Tanzania’s northeastern Arusha region, and has been a member of parliament since 1995.

After studying for an arts degree at the University of Dar es Salaam, Lowassa travelled to Britain’s University of Bath, where he earned a masters in development studies.

Government posts he has held include the ministries for the judiciary, enviroment, poverty, water and livestock.

ZANZIBAR RIVALS

Citizens on the semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago also voted for the national president.

But Zanzibaris are more focused on the race for the president of their islands, which had 14 contenders.

The archipelago’s president and vice-president — ruling as part of a unity government — went head-to-head as frontrunners in the race, which saw just over 500,000 registered voters on the islands cast their ballots.

Leading candidates are incumbent president Ali Mohamed Shein of the ruling CCM, a 67-year old medical doctor.

He faces the current vice-president Seif Sharif Hamad, from the opposition Civic United Front (CUF), a 71-year-old who is making his fifth bid for the islands’ top job.

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