The next generation – how the media reported Ridhiwani Kikwete’s nomination

Amid the extensive coverage of the difficult birth of Tanzania’s Constitutional Assembly this week, and some more excellent work by the cartoonists, I spotted a different story of interest.

The controversial son of President Kikwete, Ridhiwani Kikwete, was elected early last week to be the CCM parliamentary candidate for the forthcoming by-election in Chalinze – the seat his father held for ten years before becoming president in 2005.

I have no intention of making any comment on his nomination, beyond noting that it continues a trend for the sons of prominent Tanzanian politicians to go into politics – Dr Hussein Mwinyi and January Makamba have been around for a while, and the CCM candidate for the by-election in Kalenga, brought about by the death of Finance Minister William Mgimwa, is none other than his son Godfrey Mgimwa.

My point is instead about the media reporting of Ridhiwani’s victory in the CCM selection process.

I saw the story in the Daily News first – Ridhiwani wins Chalinze nomination – in which Ridhiwani is introduced as “a member of the National Executive Committee of CCM”. They’ll mention his father in the next paragraph, I thought. But no, there’s no mention of President Kikwete or Ridhiwani Kikwete’s connection to him in the whole article.

Then I noticed that Habari Leo – Daily News’s sister paper at government-owned TSN media house – had done the same. In both papers, the story was deemed suitable for the front page, but neither saw any reason to mention the family connection. That seems like a deliberate decision.

In contrast, Mwananchi began its article with this line: “Mtoto wa Rais Jakaya Kikwete, Ridhiwani Kikwete ameibuka kidedea …”

As another contrast, when Godfrey Mgimwa secured the CCM nomination in Kalenga, both Daily News and Habari Leo covered the story in full and gave prominence to his connection to his father – mentioning it in their headlines. In other words, they think by-election candidate nominations are important, and they think the father-son relationship is significant.

So why did they act so differently in this case?

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UPDATE: The following day, in Mwananchi, the headline was Ridhiwani: Siasa ninazofanya hazina uhusiano na baba (The politics I’m doing has no connection to my father). And in Nipashe: Sibebwi na baba (I’m not carried by my father). Perhaps a clue.

UPDATE 19/3/14: Ridhiwani Kikwete has been campaigning in Chalinze this week, making some big promises – a tractor for every villageand apparently calling on the support of the State House photographer (h/t Pernille). No mention of his father.