If you find yourself thinking, "oh no, not another election reflection," rest assured we won't be going over the same ground that has been very ably covered elsewhere (Pambazuka; Vijana FM; The Mikocheni Report - all of which are highly recommended.) Instead we will be looking at the election through a "Daraja window", thinking about how the election affected core Daraja themes of water supply, local government, the media and civil society.
Let's start with water supply. As this blog has previously highlighted, this was a non-issue in the campaigns, particularly at national level and despite consistently ranking very high in citizens' priorities. Nothing in the final days of the campaign changed that.
TAMWA, Policy Forum as three examples - suggests we may have more influence than it sometimes feels to be the case.
Our second theme, local governance, hardly registered as an election issue either, despite elections taking place for 130+ councils taking place at the same time as the more high profile presidential and parliamentary elections. This is perhaps less surprising than water supply being overlooked - decentralisation has never been a sexy election issue.
But we shouldn't let that distract us from perhaps the most intriguing (and largely overlooked) development in local governance that came out of the election: the growth in Chadema's popularity has delivered, for the first time, a significant number of local councils to the control of a party other than CCM. Before the election, 130 out of 133 councils had CCM majorities, with just 3 in other parties' hands. After this election, it appears that 13 councils have Chadema majorities.
(Other sources put the figure at 8, 9, or 12. It is amazingly hard to get confirmed information on this, the best online source is the highly partisan Jamii Forums, which contradicts itself - its a discussion forum not a news site - and various blogs that don't appear to be very reliable. The site that should have it all - the NEC site - has nothing on this.)
It is clearly positive for Tanzania's democratic development that other parties, civil servants, and of course citizens will now be getting Tanzania's first real taste of anyone other than CCM being in charge. A healthy democracy depends on having realistic alternatives, as no lesser figures than both Justice Warioba and Salim Ahmed Salim commented on TBC as the results were coming in, and these opposition-led councils present Chadema with a chance to show whether they can be a responsible and effective alternative.
For observers of local governance this is also an opportunity to see how local-centre relations will change when more councils are opposition-led. Will opposition-led councils assert themselves more in budget negotiations, for example, or will they find their hands tied?
|from Mjengwa blog|