Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Why Chadema rallies draw thousands

From The Citizen Daily, Dar es Salaam
By Ray Naluyaga, The Citizen Bureau Chief

Mwanza. The capacity to address hardships that face the people in a plain language and gestures that resonate with many is the cause for Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) rise in popularity across the country, social commentators and analysts say.

And nowhere else than in the Lake Zone has the passion for the opposition party increased in leaps and bounds, especially following last year’s General Election in which many voters deserted the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi.

Being the most populous area in the country, the Lake Zone has over the years enjoyed relatively low cost of living, with the majority of its residents earning their income from diverse economic activities.

The region has abundant livestock and cash crops such as cotton, and it covers Lake Victoria that has been able to generate employment for thousands of people directly and indirectly. The area is also known for large availability of minerals, especially gold, which had enriched many through artisanal mining before privatisation.

But this wealth has for the past ten years been shifting from the people through privatisation, as the lucrative activities formerly done by individuals directly are now taken over by foreign companies, with the people left to seek other means of survival.

That, coupled with the current high cost of fuel, which now sells at Sh2100 a litre, exorbitant food prices and hiked cost of electricity, have automatically sent the consumer price index higher, leaving many people in the region unable to afford basic goods, and hence the disenchantment with the ruling establishment and its policies.

Mr Enock Abdufundo, a taxi driver who participated in the Mwanza demo held over a week ago, says he supports Chadema because its leadership understands what the common man is going through.

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