Monday, September 20, 2010

Elections 2010: Zenji

I did the usual survey of political opinions in Zenji while I was there the past week. From the man on the street, it sounds as though the predictions for the coming elections are positive. Taxi Driver Number One told me that Zanzibaris were only waiting for the elections to formalize the coalition government since Maalim Seif is the favorite candidate. Taxi Driver Number Two confirmed this, and the only CCM member I could corner said something along similar lines. Other things that I learned: Zanzibar is interested in renegotiating the terms of the Union in it's favor, consensus politics are preferable to oppositional politics, Eid ul Fitr gets celebrated for four days straight (!), the Zanzibari/Zanzibara distinction is alive and well.

The mood on the island was quite relaxed as far as I could tell, even though there were more campaign posters than there are Zanzibaris. Upon leaving, I got a bit of ribbing about not hanging around to see the vote... but much as I would love to watch Zanzibar ease in a genuine coalition government, elections is no time for a mainlander to be hanging around without a press pass.

Back in Dar, I got The Question from the two drivers I regularly work with and one electrician: what's going on in Zenji? In the discussions, seems like everyone is interested and invested in the outcome of this election, and the overall message is quite clear- party politics are all well and good, but this time around people are voting for individuals. Evidently, the High Court needs to get on the independent candidate wagon already...

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