Edward Ngoyai Lowassa: who is the man aiming to dethrone Tanzania’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi?

Lowassa displaying his presidential nomination forms

Lowassa displaying his presidential nomination forms

Tanzania’s opposition coalition UKAWA or the People’s Constitution recently endorsed the country’s incredibly popular former premier and Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) stalwart Edward Lowassa as their nominee in the forthcoming presidential poll.

UKAWA is comprised of four opposition political parties; Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema), Civic United Front (CUF), NCCR- Mageuzi and National League for Democracy (NLD).

Lowassa becomes the first politician to challenge the powerful and entrenched ruling party after having been a member for the entire 38 years it has been in existence.

He recently defected to Chadema after losing out on the nomination in the governing party. Chadema, and the other three member parties in the alliance have since coalesced around Lowassa and launched their a massive countrywide presidential campaign challenging CCM and analysts are forecasting the October 25 election will be the most competitive in the East African nation’s political history.

Ever since Lowassa crossed to the opposition, there has been an exodus of high profile cadres in CCM exiting the party and following him to the opposition alliance; notable of these disillusioned top CCM party politicians ‘jumping ship’ include another former Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye.

“I will make sure Tanzania’s ailing airline company –Air Tanzania regains its role as the East African leading airline. I want to improve the central railway to and from Dar es Salaam to upcountry regions and we will set up new ports and improve the available ones to boost the economy,” the former premier told cheering supporters at Jangwani grounds in Dar es Salaam while launching his presidential bid.

Mr and Mrs. Lowassa

Mr and Mrs. Lowassa

Who is Lowassa?

Born August 26, 1953 (62) to Ngoyai Lowassa, a part-time British colonial administration official in Monduli, Edward Lowassa is a Tanzanian politician and lawmaker, former prime minister who was infamously forced out of office in the infamous Richmond corruption scandal.

He was accused of influencing the tendering process in favour of the Texas, US-based Richmond Development Company, the US corporation won the bid to deliver electricity to Tanzania but no power was ever delivered. Lowassa was later cleared by the courts.

Edward Lowassa was also the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office in President Ali Hassan Mwinyi’s second term, and in 1997 he was appointed Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office for Environment and Poverty.

Lowassa has represented Monduli in the country’s parliament since 1995.

Between 1993 and 1995 he served as minister of lands, human settlement development between 1993 and1995.

The CCM historical turned-challenger was appointed water and

It is an open secret in Tanzania that Lowassa has always set his sights on the presidency for several years.

In 1995 Lowassa contested for his party’s nomination for president but the country’s beloved leader at the time and chairman of the party, Mwalimu Nyerere did not think he was qualified to be president at the time.

The former premier is also a military veteran having fought in the 1978-1979 Ugandan liberation struggle that eventually toppled former dictator Iddi Amin.

Lowassa is well known for his work ethic and result-driven attitude.

Man of results

He is the man behind Tanzania’s highly rated ward secondary school system, an education reform plan that saw the country establish a secondary school in each ward or district. The feat has allowed the country to significantly boost secondary education enrollment and meet education goals set in the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Lowassa was also influential in designing a plan to supply water to Shinyanga region from L. Victoria.

The UKAWA and Chadema presidential hopeful doesn’t mind taking some political risks; when he was water minister and livestock development in 2003, he gambled terminating City Water’s contract with the Dar es Salaam Water Sewerage Authority (Dawasa), to manage water to the country’s commercial capital following residents’ complaints of gross water and sewage mismanagement.

City Water sued the Tanzanian government for breach of contract but a London court dismissed the case concurring with the government that indeed water and sewage situation deteriorated in the period City Water was in charge.

The Monduli native has been credited for pushing for the establishment of the country’s second largest University; University of Dodoma in Tanzania’s political capital.

Losing and defecting

In 2014, CCM banned Edward Lowassa, the married father (He’s married to Regina Mumba Lowassa) of four for one year accusing for allegedly campaigning for president “prematurely.”

After duly serving his ban, earlier this year, Lowassa rekindled his presidential ambitions once again, in May 2015 Lowassa officially launched his campaign for the nomination for president within his party.

Unfortunately for him,history would soon repeat itself in July as he did not even make it out of the preliminaries; Lowassa was eliminated together with 33 other candidates in the first round of the contest.

His prematurely elimination caused some consternation inside Chama Cha Mapinduzi, his supporters were infuriated many expressing their dissatisfaction with the party’s internal electoral process that eventually chose Dr John Pombe Magufuli as the nominee.

CCM national congress did not obviously buy ‘excuses’ that Lowassa had managed to come up with over 800,000 signatures of supporters instead of the required 450,000.

Work Minister, Magufuli was announced winner in the intra-party race defeating former UN Deputy Secretary General Dr Asha-Rose Migiro and Ambassador Amina Ally.

“There’s absolutely no democracy in CCM, the leaders chose their person instead of listening to the voices of the masses at the grassroots,” a regional CCM cadre told this website reacting to the news that Lowassa hadn’t made it in the five finalists for the nomination.

Unlike the likes of Charles Makongoro Nyerere who lost the nomination and decided to aim for the legislature instead, Lowassa opted to abandon his longtime political party and join the opposition.

Earlier this month, Edward Lowassa officially ditched his 38 year-old party and joined Chadema.

In a press briefing upon his dramatic defection, Lowassa told the press the main reason he left was because the CCM he has dedicated most of his life to “had lost direction, strength and trust” to lead the East African nation.

“I would be deceiving myself and the public to say that I still have faith CCM,” he said quoting the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s 1995 statement openly lambasting the ruling party.

“Watanzania wasipo yapata mabadiriko ndani ya CCM watayatafuta nje ya CCM” or “Should Tanzanians fail to get change within CCM, they will look for it outside CCM.”

Lowassa, who has been nicknamed “Lo-rushwa” (Rusha is a bribe in Swahili) following his implication in the Richmond corruption saga, also categorically denied to have had a hand in the infamous energy scandal and maintained that he was only following orders from his top bosses.

He publically dared his former allies to prove him wrong with evidence and in the courts of law saying “Let them file a law suit.”

Chadema has said they agree with Lowassa due the fact that he has never been prosecuted.

Some political observers have opined, for Lowassa to beat mighty Chama, he might choose to go nuclear and spill the beans of Africa’s longest ruling party.

Conversely, some say CCM will unleash the kitchen sink on their erstwhile cadre in bid to stave off his serious challenge.


University of Bath, UK for MSc. Development Studies

University of Dar es Salaam, B.A. Education.


  • fb

    Coalitions do not become stronger than the multi-decade experienced ruling party over night. But to achieve change, you need patience. Had it existed long before, ….