The front-runner in Tanzania’s presidential race appears to be John Magufuli, candidate for the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, which has dominated politics in the country since the 1960s. But he faces a stiff challenge from the main opposition parties who have rallied round former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, who recently defected from the CCM to the opposition CHADEMA. This is the first time the opposition have united behind a single candidate. The four parties in the opposition coalition are CHADEMA, NCCR-Mageuzi, Civic United Front (CUF) and the Union for the People’s Constitution.
The CCM may be at an electoral advantage as the party in power but an opinion survey cited by local media and conducted by the Tanzania Development Initiatives Program (TADIP) gave Lowassa – the oppostion candidate – 54 percent and Magufuli 40 percent of the vote last month.
On the campaign trail, Magufuli has been taking a tough line on corruption. “As soon as I am sworn in, I will form a special court for thieves and the corrupt,” he told a recent rally.
Benson Bana, lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, told AFP that both candidates seem to be “propagating similar policies such as fighting graft, conquering poverty, solving unemployment and land disputes.” Lowassa told an opposition rally “Education will [in future] be government-funded from primary to university level.”