By Hook or By Crook

By Hook or By Crook

Will President Kikwete (far left) not be reelected Sunday?
Before Angle vs. Reid on Tuesday, we’re going to have Kikwete vs. Slaa on Sunday. And a remarkable surprise may be in the making.

Several opinion polls are now predicting that the sitting president of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, may not be reelected.

This is really incredible. I have to admit my own surprise by admitting how I never would have considered it possible.

In my blog of October 12, I said most analysts were predicting a landslide for the sitting president, Jakaya Kikwete. Well, no more. Most are predicting a victory, but not by much, and there are even some daring to suggest he will lose to his most formidable rival, Willbrod Slaa.

Tanzanian voters have only had a choice of presidential candidates since 1992; before that, a single-party state controlled the presidency. This will be the 5th election since then, and it would be the first that a sitting president was ousted.

Today the main issue in the campaign is corruption and government competence. This has appeared suddenly and surprisingly. Corruption and government competence has always been questioned by Tanzania’s elite and educated, but the message has apparently gained traction with the masses.

Much of the broad political fight has been focused onto Kikwete’s support for his former prime minister, Edward Lowassa, who is attempting to return to Parliament after resigning several years ago as a result of a scandal that implicated him in millions of kickbacked dollars.

Although Lowassa is popular in his home region, he is vastly unpopular elsewhere. He’s a de facto admitted crook. But the president is supporting him, and the president’s opponents are calling him out for doing so.

And focusing the entire charge of corruption on this one very visible event.

We’ll see. All eyes on Tanzania Sunday. I’m still predicting Kikwete will win,.

By hook or by crook.