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Once you accept democracy, everything falls into place

HIS was not just a landslide victory or re-adjustment of Tanzania’s election map, but a sweeping and decisive victory that should not come as a surprise to anyone with a slight understanding of Tanzanian politics.

John Joseph Pombe Magufuli came in power for the first time as President in 2015 with one main objective in mind; to change people’s lives. Since then, he has been successful in making people believe in themselves, their abilities, and what can be achieved if they put their minds to work.

For the past five years, Tanzanians have witnessed their president take a lead in the fight against corruption, by establishing a special anti-graft court that went hand in hand with the sacking of corrupt public servants, and protection of the country’s natural resources by creating mineral laws and reforms in the extractive industry.

President Magufuli once said that investing in infrastructure will help stimulate economic growth. With this understanding, Dr Magufuli has invested heavily in road construction, electricity, aviation, and education. His achievement list is long and ‘exosting’.

You got the point. For the past five years, Tanzanians have seen the president who not only leads from the front by showing them the way, but also leads from behind by giving them a little push, motivating them to do what once seemed impossible. Understandably, they liked what they saw.

That’s why in this past election, they voted overwhelmingly to reelect him for the second term. As an affirmation of their trust in his leadership, they also painted the national parliament with almost all green and yellow--two familiar colours symbolising the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM); exactly what I meant when I said he changed the election map.

This brings me to the main objective of this piece. The unfounded claims by some opposition leaders that the election that put President Magufuli back in power, and many of the CCM parliamentary seat contestants was rigged.

President Magufuli was re-elected by 84 per cent over his main political rival Tundu Lissu of the opposition party Chadema, who only received 13 per cent of the vote.

That’s a 71percent difference, a remarkable difference that, in my humble opinion, should not be contested since it leaves no doubt as to who the Tanzanian people wanted as their next president. Here we are! Without providing any evidence, Lissu and a few other opposition leaders are now claiming the election was not free, fair, or credible, and they want “citizens” to take action to ensure election results are changed.

They fail to understand that, when people speak, you listen. That’s what leaders do, leaders who understand the meaning of democracy, and the role of citizens in a democratic process. In a democracy, the will of the people is respected and cherished… end of the story.

Elections are not won by constantly whining to attract world sympathy. Elections are won by the people. All candidates, from both the ruling and opposition parties, had a chance to talk to Tanzanian voters, explaining their policies and vision for the country.

Likewise, the people had a chance to listen to each candidate, and they concluded with one voice that, Magufuli was the right person to lead them for the next five years. Mr Lissu, Zitto Kabwe and the like must come to this realisation and put their country first; put people’s interests above their own.

Not accepting the will of the people is undemocratic and should be denounced by all those who love democracy. Undermining the legitimacy of President Magufuli and all elected members of parliament, regardless of their political affiliation is undemocratic, and in my view, offensive to those who elected them.

The people of Tanzania are free and open-minded with an understanding of the world around them. Questioning their choice for the presidency and other parliamentary seats is offensive and should be treated as such.

People have the right to express their views as long as they follow the law. Like many other democracies around the world, Tanzania is a stable democracy where the rule of law is highly regarded. Unfortunately, a handful of opposition leaders like Mr Lissu and Kabwe are trying to make it look like something it is not.

Their actions and rhetoric are toxic and have the potential to paint the nation with a negative image that it does not have. Accepting defeat after losing an election is part of a democratic process. It is not easy of course, but one can take comfort knowing that the greatness and future of the nation you love is greater than any single person or political party.

With this in mind, a politician who loves his country will do anything and everything possible to ensure tomorrow is better than today. Likewise, such a politician would always refrain from statements and deeds that may send negative signals about his country to the outside world.

There is no perfect democracy--there has never been one, and there will never be. Democracy is by the people who by nature are not perfect.


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