But how will CCM really make it’s choice?

A couple of weeks ago, I asked how CCM will choose it’s 2015 presidential candidate, and explained the key stages of the formal decision making process. But the same question could be answered a very different way, as several noted: how will this small electorate decide who to give their support to?

There are many competing factors for to take into account, so I have enlisted some help from Tanzania’s excellent newspaper cartoonists.

Let’s start with the cartoons:


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There are several themes in there, as well as a few things notably absent.

1. Influence of the President and party elders

There was a time when the CCM presidential nomination was almost entirely in the hands of one individual (or perhaps just a few). Nyerere had a huge influence in the choice of Ally Hassan Mwinyi in 1985 and Benjamin Mkapa in 1995, both of whom were relative outsiders. It is often said that he intervened to block other potential candidates in 1995, including the current president, Jakaya Kikwete, and one of the frontrunners to take over later this year, the former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa.

But already by 2005 no single individual had Nyerere’s influence, and Kikwete was in no sense an outsider. In 2015 there are almost no senior politicians of the Nyerere era still around.

With just a single exception there’s no sense in these cartoons that the route to the presidency is being tightly controlled from the behind the scenes. Several cartoons portray uncertainty or confusion – a blank screen, a partially built mannequin, a leaderless trucka spaghetti of railway tracks, Kikwete seeking advice. The cartoonists clearly think that the President has not yet decided who to support, that this is not a stitch up, but a genuinely open race.

Nevertheless, President Kikwete and a handful of party elders still have considerable power to shape the outcome. A well-timed intervention by Kikwete, publicly or privately, would carry considerable weight with the party’s internal electorate. If mud-slinging between rival candidates’ camps turns embarrassingly ugly, he may intervene to propose a compromise.

2. The presidential legacy

The president is likely to wield his influence with a few key considerations in mind. Does he still owe any candidates any favours from 2005 and 2010? Who will be seen by the public as a wise choice? Who does he think will win? (The president won’t want the embarrassment of indicating support for a candidate who goes on to lose.)

And perhaps most important of all: Who does he trust to ensure that his personal legacy is not tarnished with corruption scandals coming back to haunt him in retirement?

But the trouble is: the answers to these questions may well point in different directions.

3. Money, favours, being on the winning side

One common theme in the cartoons is money. In this, they concur with a paper published last year by ODI (pdf), which argued that Tanzania is now in a “post-ideological age”, where money has become “the dominant political medium of exchange.”

When would you like to be thanked? Before or after?” asks one politician with a bulging sack of money, in a cartoon in the Guardian. Several others similarly suggest that aspiring political candidates will directly or indirectly pay members of the CCM council and central committee to support them.

Scarcely less corrupt is the suggestion, also reflected in the cartoons, that favours are being traded for support. “I need to support the right candidate in order to become a Minister in the next government,” says one cartoon politician. Another simply asks a presidential candidate to be sure to remember him.

If such favours are really being traded – as surely happens in politics all over the world – then there’s another consideration: why would you offer your support in return for a promise of a top Ministerial post from a candidate who stands little chance of winning? Credibility matters.

On the flip side, you can be pretty sure that dirty politics, threats and blackmail are at play as well.

4. Whose turn is it?

It is often argued that the Tanzanian presidency should be shared in turns between Zanzibar and the mainland, and/or between Christians and Muslims. The country’s first and third presidents were Christian, the second and fourth were Muslim, so is it time for another Christian. Similarly. as only President Mwinyi hailed from Zanzibar, is it time for another Zanzibari?

There aren’t many Christian Zanzibaris, which is one reason why RaiaMwema newspaper suggested that Augustino Ramadhani, an Anglican priest and retired senior judge from Zanzibar, though a political outsider, was being lined up for the post.

A similar argument could be used to say it’s time for a female president, perhaps the former UN Deputy Secretary General, Asha-Rose Migiro?

Or for a generational shift? There are several in the running and making this case: January Makamba, Lazaro Nyalandu and Mwigulu Nchemba, for example.

5. Ideology, policies, integrity and ability

Should this really come at the bottom of the list of considerations? Probably not. Tanzania may have moved into a post-ideological age, but there are still many within CCM who resist the grubby politics of money and favours. Some are influential party elders who retain a living link with the Nyerere era. Others are young turks looking for a clean break with the corruption scandals of recent years.

These scandals mean that “integrity” will be one of the major election issues come October, and in the nomination process as well. But differentiating between real integrity and the appearance of integrity will not be easy. It will be a mud fight where everyone gets dirty, suggests one cartoon. Finding a clean candidate will be tough, argues another.

Ability to deliver is often cited as a reason for supporting candidates. This is sometimes framed as a trade off with integrity: that it might be ok to choose a corrupt candidate so long as they are able to find a way of pushing through the bureaucracy to make things happen on the ground.

Policies, however, really do come way down at the bottom of the list. In much of the debate so far, including in these cartoons, policies don’t come up at all.