Dr John Pombe Magufuli, the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party candidate, has won the Tanzanian presidential election as the revolutionary party continues its grip on power after governing the country since independence in 1961.
The CCM is the dominant ruling party in Tanzania and the longest reigning ruling party in Africa.
Its candidate, Magufuli, 55, was yesterday declared winner of the latest presidential election by Tanzanian National Electoral Commission (NEC) chairperson Judge Damian Lubuva.
He becomes the country’s fifth president ever since the country obtained independence from colonial rule over five decades ago.
He is now set to replace President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, who has served two terms in office.
The Tanzanian NEC declared Magufuli winner after he garnered 58.46 per cent of the vote, ahead of closest rival, Edward Lowassa, 62, of Chadema and the opposition Ukawa alliance, who garnered 39.97 per cent of the votes.
The CCM candidate obtained 8,882,935 votes, while his closest rival got 6,072,848 votes.
The number of eligible voters was earlier put at 22,751,292.
Magufuli’s main challenger was ex-prime minister Lowassa, himself a CCM stalwart who recently defected to the opposition Democracy and Progress party (Chadema).
The CCM, was formed in 1977 under the leadership of the late Tanzanian statesman Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, from a merger of two post-colonial parties – the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) and the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) – the then sole operating parties in mainland Tanzania and the semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar, respectively.
CCM has governed Tanzania since independence from Britain in 1961.
Since the restoration of the multi-party system, the party has retained its popularity, winning all the previous four general elections in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010.
Four opposition parties this time united to form the Ukawa alliance, with hope of ending the governing CCM party’s 54-year grasp on power.
On Tuesday, African, Commonwealth and European election observers gave their preliminary reports commending the peaceful nature of the polling on Sunday but the EU delegation said the process was not fully transparent.
In their preliminary statement, the EAC Election Observation Mission (EOM) to Tanzania indicated that the October 25 poll was peaceful and transparent.
The EAC EOM was led by Arthur Moody Awori, former vice-president of Kenya and comprised 55 members drawn from the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), National Electoral Management Bodies, National Human Rights Commissions, Ministries responsible for EAC Affairs, and Civil Society Organisations from other four EAC partner states.
The Mission deployed 18 teams to observe the polling and counting processes in regions around the vast east African country.
Who is Magufuli?
Magufuli, the current minister of works, comes from Tanzania’s northwestern Chato district, on the shores of Lake Victoria.
He was awarded a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Dar es Salaam and he spent some time studying at Britain’s University of Salford.
The devout Roman Catholic was a member of parliament since 1995 and has also taught in a secondary school and is an industrial chemist.
Previously, Magufuli has held various cabinet portfolios, including livestock, fisheries and land.
Lowassa defected in July to the opposition Chadema party, and leads the Ukawa coalition. He was Tanzania’s prime minister from 2005 until his resignation in 2008 over corruption allegations, which he denies.
Before the defection, Lowassa was one of the CCM’s strongest supporters for years, but is now calling for an end to the party’s rule.
Lowassa comes from the Monduli district, part of Tanzania’s northeastern Arusha region, and has been a member of parliament since 1995.
Even though the race was definitely between the two, there were six other candidates in what was dubbed tightest presidential race in country’s history, including the only female, Anna Elisha Mghwira of the ACT party.