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Councilors Blocking Rural Democratization Process - Opposition

TOMRIC News Agency (Dar es Salaam), 13 September 2000

Dar Es Salaam - One of the opposition parties in Tanzania, the United Democratic Party (UDP) has alleged here that ward executives are blocking the on-going democratization move, especially in the rural areas.

The UDP Chairman, Mr. John Cheyo who is also the union presidential candidate for the forthcoming general elections, raised the allegation. Mr. Cheyo is reported as telling the public rallies in Shinyanga region-northern Tanzania that ward leaders were threatening people who join the opposition parties with expulsion from villages.

In some villages our supporters are being ordered to vacate their villages be the ward leaders, he alleged, adding, They are intended to frustrate the opposition and are not ready to see it moving ahead.

He did not mention the names of those threatened, but he said that in rural areas ward officers hold excessive power to an extend of affecting democratization process and the on-going campaigns. The second multiparty general elections are scheduled for October 29, this year and thirteen political parties are expected to be involved.

Only four candidates contest for presidential post for Tanzania Mainland and only two for Zanzibar. Apart from presidents for Tanzania union and Zanzibar, to be elected include parliaments and councilors. Mr. Cheyo said it surprised to see in the rural areas there is enmity on party members while in parliament the opposition and the ruling party (CCM) work in harmony.

He told the public that party to party hatred should not be permitted as all political parties had the same goal to improve welfare of the people. His complaints come when experts say that Tanzanians lacking proper education on democracy and multiparty system. They blame among others, the government for not taking its initiatives to educate the public on how they should deserve under multiparty system. However, other say people's ignorance on democracy and the multiparty system was an advantage to the ruling party, CCM. That people would continue to vote for the ruling party. Apart from undertaking economic reforms, Tanzania had compelled to adopt multi-party democracy since 1992 after over three decades of one party rule. Under second phase President Ali Hassan Mwinyi (1985/95), the government appointed a commission to collect public views on whether the country should adopt multi-party democracy or retain the one party rule. Although the results indicated that majority of Tanzanians favored the status quo on, about 20 CCM parliamentary candidates unopposed who mean the ruling party may continue to take majority seats in the National Assembly.