TZ ex-premier Lowassa to challenge ruling CCM in October poll

Edward Lowassa acknowledging his supporters

Edward Lowassa acknowledging his supporters

Barely days after he defected to the opposition coalition UKAWA in bid to challenge his former political party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), Edward Lowassa, the popular former prime minister of Tanzania, and CCM stalwart has been officially nominated as the flag bearer for the 4-party coalition in the October 25 presidential election.

Business come to a stand-still in Dar es Salaam Thursday when Lowassa picked up his nomination papers from Chadema Party Headquarters as enthusiastic supporters cheered him on.

Chadema , CUF, NLD and NCCR-Mageuzi are the four parties forming the coalition of people’s constitution (UKAWA) with an aim of joining forces to mount a formidable challenge against dominant and powerful CCM.

Roads were closed for hours as motorists and pedestrians lined up behind a buoyant Lowassa as picked up his forms from the Chadema party’s Kinondoni Municipal headquarters

Chadema deputy secretary   (Zanzibar), Salum Mwalimu had said Wednesday Lowassa would pick up the forms to contest for the top job and will represent all opposition parties forming the alliance.

“Because Chadema is a major opposition party within Ukawa we have agreed to pick a single presidential candidate from Chadema,” Mwalimu told a news conference in Dar es Salaam.

With forms in his hands, Lowassa, a longtime member of the ruling party who shockingly eliminated in the preliminary round of CCM nomination contest said “We’re for change.”

Lowassa displaying his presidential nomination forms

Lowassa displaying presidential nomination forms

He quoted the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who once told CCM’s National Executive Committee (NEC) that “watanzania wasipo pata mabadiliko ndani ya CCM watatafuta mabadiliko nje ya CCM” laterally meaning “…should Tanzanians fail to get change within CCM, they will look for change outside CCM…”

There was one notable absentee from Lowassa’s event Thursday; Wilbroad Slaa, Chadema’s Secretary General and 2010 presidential contender.

He is the man who was widely expected to challenge Lowassa had CCM picked him as their candidate in the October general election.

Tundu Lissu, Chadema’s Legal officer told the crowd in Dar es Salaam, there have intensive negotiations to persuade Lowassa to join the team.

“Now he will be guided by the party constitution and other agreements we made within the alliance to realize the dream of sending CCM government packing,” Lissu said.

Dar es Salaam region CCM Ideology and Publicity Secretary Juma Gadafi told the media Wednesday the ruling party is not bothered by Lowassa’s decision to abandon the party.

He said CCM is still strong and intact even with Lowassa’s departure, victory is guaranteed in October.

Up until his surprising loss in CCM nomination contest, Lowassa was one of the favorites to win the party’s endorsement.

His premature and rather ‘dubious’ drop caused some rift within the ruling party’s ranks some accusing the party’s leadership of hijacking the nomination process and “choosing their person” instead of the party’s.

Lowassa resigned as prime minister in 2008 after being implicated in the Richmond energy scandal but was later cleared by the courts.

The former premier’s crossover has no doubt changed the political and election atmosphere within the East African nation.

“His political appeal dwarfs that of CCM nominee, Dr. John Pombe Magufuli,” one analyst told this website.