Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Not Like Sheikh Yahya

Our resident celebrity "master" of the predictive arts, Sheikh Yahya Hussein, has a habit of forseeing political performance long after the election results have been announced. He also likes to plays it safe by stating the obvious.

Why let him have all the fun? Since we have a month to go, this is a good time to read some tea leaves of my own:

1. Jakaya Kikwete is going to be re-elected as President. Tanzania always re-elects the incumbent. Besides, there is no viable candidate for the Union Presidency outside of the CCM yet. This won't be the case in 2015 and 2020 if our opposition keeps maturing (which is hardly guaranteed by the looks of it).

2. Jay Kay is going to win with maybe 60-65% of the vote. Of course CCM knows it can't reproduce it's ridiculous 80% win from 2005 even though it has plastered Jay Kay all over anything that sits still long enough. There is nothing like staring at an incumbent's feet of clay for five years straight to kill off any romance.

3. Which means that Dr. Slaa (Chadema) will come second with maybe 10-15% of the vote, and the other stragglers will split whatever is left over.

4. Maalim Seif (CUF) is the next President of Zanzibar, unless something dramatic happens between now and October 31st.

5. Opposition is going to increase its presence in parliament significantly- it may even work it's way up to 25-30% of the Bunge if voters wield that pen right.

6. These elections and the next five years will really test CCM's powers of cohesion. CCJ might have been an aborted exercise, but I predict that the first real splinter group is likely to appear before 2015.

7. Without a doubt there will be, um, 'discrepancies' in the poll numbers as they come in. But thanks to our friends in the IT industry and the nascent movement of independent citizen oversight and reporting, rigging this vote is going to be tougher than usual. This is good: some jobs are just too important to leave to a state organ like the National Electoral Commission. No chads will be left hanging...

Overall, October 31st is going to be about consolidating the inroads made by the opposition, considering policy and ideology along with political personalities, and opening up Tanzania's democratic spaces: local government, parliament, media- especially social media.

Speaking of social media, Uchaguzi2010 is working as an online aggregator of online election coverage. The blog lacks an 'about us' section, which I find problematic, but the content is all referenced. The best part is the GoogleDocs candidate list, which should become very interesting as of October 31st 6:00 pm onwards. The Revolution is being broadcast: tune in, think, connect, vote, report.


  1. get ready for a perceptible and sustainable increase in traffic. Swahili Street is teeming with kerb crawlers looking for the sheikh.

  2. Hi Elsie,

    The link to uchaguzi2010 is interesting, but it's unclear how they will populate their tables, and I'm otherwise unconvinced that social media is doing much. A lot of hot air is being stirred up on Facebook and JamiiForums, which I recognise represent useful platforms for public debate, but it's so fragmented and there's nothing comprehensive or systematic I've come across. I've not heard of anyone planning to use Ushahidi's election monitoring tool, for example?

    Best wishes,

  3. @SwahiliStreet: Just another income stream, my man. Got to find a way to pay for my Astrology Quarterly subscription ;)

    @Ben Taylor: Hi, and thanks for your comment. I am heartbroken that you so callously dismiss social media's contributions in this election and have just lost the will to live.

    But seriously: This year it's all a brave new world. The organic nature of social media's growth in tandem with our deepening democracy is a positive development. What you see as hot air I see as the skeptical Blackberry class working up its nerve to get politically engaged. Since everything gets rationalized, including social media, I imagine that comprehensive and systematic are probably just around the corner.

    In the meantime I'll be checking out this Ushahidi tool. Won't be surprised if an NGO, media house or watchdog institution snaps it up right quick :)

    Uchaguzi2010's candidate list isn't comprehensive. I am currently looking for the complete list in Excel format. I imagine that populating the tables could be as easy as setting up a Twitter and SMS citizen reporting network throughout the country. Institutions that can tap into existing networks at present include political parties, mobile phone companies, NGO networks like HakiElimu's Friends of Education, media institutions, NEC itself, religious institutions with country-wide presence. Highly motivated independent bloggers, political junkies and other individuals could do it...

    The possibilities are endless with a mobile phone in hand.

  4. it was clear from the get go that ushahidi could be used in a range of settings. In ushahidi's first week, I excitedly tried to interest some land rights 'activists' in it. The potential was obvious and clear. I was met with blank stares. If ushahidi was to have been snapped up in Tz, it would have been a few years ago.

    And why do we need to crowd source a spreadsheet? It should be available on NEC's site (FYI, such a list wasn't available in the UK for their last election either). I've got better things to be doing with my phone than texting candidate's names to a short code to create a list. That's the NEC's job and they should be doing it. Still, i'm sure somebody would fund it.

  5. Hey guys!! I am at work... but a quick comment.

    The Ushahidi tool WILL BE USED. Stay tuned! Of course, we will need your help when everything is completed.


  6. @Elsie: No offence intended ;) And I fully agree with what you're saying about organic new forms of democratic engagement emerging.

    I've searched around for an accurate online list of candidates. I've concluded that there isn't one. And I love your confidence in setting up a crowdsourcing system, though I doubt it would be as easy as you make it sound. I notice Uchaguzi2010 added a comment section yesterday - perhaps we should feed them the idea?

    @SN: Is Vijana FM planning to use Ushahidi's tool? What can we do to help? I'm sure you have a plan, but if there's anything we can do, the earlier we get information the better.

    After all, it's not too late to pool efforts and come up with something less ad hoc than what's around at the moment.

  7. Thanks for this daring and interesting post, Elsie! Will keep an eye on your predictions coming through...
    Also, very exciting news and discussion from all previous comments! Indeed looking forward to see what new Ushahidi /other ePolitics initiatives are deployed! (I am, with Elsie, an optimist on the potential of this...)

  8. I am not quite sure what to say at the moment to be honest (maybe I should have kept my mouth shut? :)).

    Anyways, I will ask everyone to be a bit patient at the moment. Don't worry, Ben, Peter and Manuel; you will be informed when the 'perfect' time arrives.

  9. steven, it's not tacceo.or.tz, is it? it'll be good if more people become a bit more tech savvy. but, znz apart, election procedures have never really been a big problem.

  10. Peter, I have tried my best to be anonymous by using "SN". You blew it, man... :)

    No, it's not that tacceo thingy. You will get your answer in 48 hours. Patience...

  11. Steven, you've got us on tenterhooks. I, for one, can't wait to see what you've got planned.

  12. Haya, here it is: http://vijanafm.crowdmap.com/

    Sorry, we tried our best to make the SMS reporting work, but it wasn't to be. Hopefully tacceo.or.org will have it...

    Please, help us out to spread the word!


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