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Tanzanians did not have much of a choice going into last week’s elections. The contest was between a ruling party heavyweight and a former ruling party bigwig who defected to the oppostion only recently. Nothing earth-shaking in terms of policies. And now that the ruling party has retained the presidency, it is time for it and the oppistion to deliver to the citizens.

Well, the 2015 elections for Tanzania mainland are finally done. Of course, much cannot be said for the Island of Zanzibar (Including Pemba). It is not yet finally clear how things are going to go on that side. But we shall await as directions trickle in, as it currently stands the country (including the semi-autonomous archipelago) is at this point standing in unchartered territory, especially as far as the island issue is concerned. On the other hand, the results for the mainland have been finalised, with Dr John Pombe Magufuli taking the lead and the victory. If course now the real work begins.

The parties, especially the two main contenders, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and UKAWA, the main coalition of four smaller parties, including the main opposition CHADEMA, have work cut out for them. As cabinet members and parliamentarians they have to deliver to the citizens that have elected them. Yes CCM is in power, but the opposition will have more presence in parliament and in government. That opportunity should be used by them to effect and negotiate change, which is why they have been elected.

As far as contestation of the election outcome is concerned, that is a tricky subject. For starters, the Constitution does not allow the results of the National Election Commission to be subjected to courts. I am also not sure of any alternative avenues being available. So I guess that has closed that issue, I hope. For most countrymen and especially those who supported CCM, that must come as a sigh of relief. For the rest, I am not sure what avenues are going to be embraced. I do hope the matter can be wrapped up soon. Elections are expensive, not just in monetary terms, but also in terms of emotions. I think the country must be allowed to now move on and build.

In terms of party manifestos, ideologies and undertakings, well not much was put forward. The contenders mostly campaigned on personalities as opposed to issues-based politics, so there is nothing much to put forward, or for Tanzanians to expect. In fact, there is so much that has been put forward about what the citizens, 'Wananchi', did not want from CCM, or the big debate about what CCM had failed to do, but in terms of what CCM would offer or the opposition, that front has not been well examined. This means, as the new president takes office, he shall be free to run his policies wherever, and those are the dangers of personality-based campaigning.

Yet again, Dr Magufuli has shown a certain level of responsibility and hard work, that we hope will bring the much needed change. Let there be no dilution of his spirit and work candour. On the other hand, the opposition coalition leader, Edward Lowassa, will find himself in a tough corner, especially after defecting from CCM. I am not sure he is going to let go of this lightly.

The future is what is important to the majority of Tanzanians. They would like to see more children in good schools, not just numbers, but quality graduates, employment and not necessarily underemployment but good value employment. Better infrastructure, especially within the energy and electricity sector, healthcare, and of course benefits from the vast resources that the country continues to unveil. Good governance, responsible government and accountable private sector is what is needed, championed by a very active and hawk-eyed civil society.

It does not matter who won or who is in government; citizens simply want accountability and to be listened to. If the current and future government has learnt anything from this exercise, it is that, unless change takes places, citizens will stand, and take the change into their own hands. Nothing lasts forever, so make it good and make it work whilst it lasts.

* Dr Olivia Lwabukuna a researcher based at the Africa Institute of South Africa (Human Sciences Research Council), Pretoria.



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