Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why Tanzanians will be voting tomorrow

With just hours away to the 2010 General Election, registered voters are leaving nothing to chance.
A random survey this week showed that those registered in stations away from their places of work had made travel plans so that would enable them cast their ballot for their preferred president, MP and civic leaders. Tanzanians’ level of enthusiasm was evident during interviews with The Citizen on why they would do whatever it takes to participate in the historic vote to elect leaders who would form the government to steer the country ahead for the next five years. Among the common reasons why they feel all the 19.6 million Tanzanians, who obtained the voters’ cards, should go out there and vote, is the need to exercise their constitutional right and offer a mandate for those they want to lead the country. Patriotism, a desire to bring change and the need to endorse what they see as workable promises made during the campaigns by various political party leaders are other important reasons that were cited. For Onesmo Olengurumwa, a researcher and legal officer with the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), casting the vote is all about his destiny and that of the country. “My vote is my life for the next five years. It is an opportunity for me to give someone the responsibility of governing this country on my behalf,” he said. The chief executive officer of the Aids Business Coalition Tanzania (ABCT), Mr Richard Kasesela, said he would vote tomorrow to fulfill his constitutional obligation. He talked to The Citizen while on his way to Rugwe District in Mbeya where he is registered as a voter. “We have the habit as a nation of complaining about irresponsible leaders, but we never go to the polls. I am travelling at my own cost to Rungwe to vote on Sunday. There is no shortcut to good governance other than determining the destiny through the ballot,” he said. The secretary general of the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA), Mr Nicholas Mgaya, concurred and added that he would vote because it was a constitutional right that no one could take away from people living in a true democracy. Dr Noording Jella of Mzumbe University said the public must take elections seriously because sometimes government decisions bound them for many more years. “I say that because sometime a leader can sign contracts binding the nation for 99 years while his or her mandate lasts for just five years,” he said, noting that having honest and trustworthy people in public office was important. The chairman of the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI), Mr Felix Mosha, said the only way to make sure that the leaders delivered on their promises was to make them know the power of the people’s voice. “By electing one individual at the expense of the other means that the electorate approves of their campaign manifestos.” A senior researcher with the Research on Poverty Alleviation (Repoa) and an economist at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Dr Damian Gabagambi, said election day was like judgment day for the outdoing government as well as a chance for the people to put the country in a new direction. Mr Ndibalema Mayanja who chairs the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (TCCIA) said elections contribute to the democratic growth of the country and is a measure of civilisation as governments move from one administration to the next. According to Dr Azaveli Rwaitama of the University of Dar es Salaam, if the right to vote no longer existed, the country would not survive as a democratic nation but would turn completely into an autocracy. He said by not voting, people give away their right to influence government decisions. “By not voting you give away the "will of the majority and replaces it with the will of the minority," the Philosophy lecturer said. Immediate former MPs Mgana Msindai and Athumani Janguo said it was important for people to participate in their own development by choosing those they wished would represent them in making law for the country. “It is an obligation to get leaders we want, and that is why we must vote in big numbers,” said Mr Msindai who lost the Iramba East seat after 15 uninterrupted years. Mr Janguo who voluntarily stepped down after serving for a similar period in Kisarawe Constituency said it was now his time to also elect a leader of his choice to take from where he had left. A Dar es Salaam resident, Mr Maswe Nestory, noted: “Voting reinforces my status as a citizen; Politics is about shaping society so that the people within it can flourish. If you want to be part of it, and it’s definitely in your interests to do so, then this is the moment to express your feelings.”


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