The atmosphere has been fairly calm, with noticeable excitement coming from artistic groups involved in the opening scenes and not commotion relating to political disputes. That is a positive environment, though there are lingering doubts as to whether the calm atmosphere will be sustained.
One hiccup was the sending away of a press team from the state-run television channel from an inaugural rally of the main opposition party.
As happened, the reason cited was that the channel wasn’t airing the proceedings directly and instead it was interrupting them to host discussion, apparently if the point raised was unbearably sharp to some ears.
As could have been expected, it was the CCM inaugural event – this time held in the inland capital of Dodoma – that attracted the largest number of people as well as hefty batches of artiste groups.
It was easy to see how the landscape has changed from the past, where opposition parties were capable of putting up some solid showing in the first stages of campaigns and more or less continuously. This time the opening stages were somewhat unbalanced, but that is not necessarily to suggest that there is little steam in their motion.
As has also often happened, there were completely unexpected faces as the country geared towards the polls, where one candidate was away for medical attention after a disturbing incident in the course of his parliamentary activities.
This one braved what appeared to be solid inclination to dissuade him from coming back and in that regard alone he stands out as a remarkable figure, and the public throng to hear him.
Then there is another candidate whom the ruling party had to experience a long balancing act before deciding their position on his membership, while he juts would not beg for forgiveness.
Despite all that, political activity has for strategic reasons been somewhat stymied in the past five years, a reflection of a school of thought about how active multiparty politics augurs for development – including that the start of the campaigns shows that the political atmosphere is still vibrant.
The five-year stoppage has obviously had a toll on what can be said to be the preparedness and even routine of public speaking and setting out the agenda, but not all that much is actually damaged.
The agenda may appear rather hasty, only recently penned, but it will likely attract significant interest of voters, as the issues raised concern them – often urgently.
Not much has been heard of election monitoring this time around, with university-based organisations devoted to election studies hardly being heard, and with only sporadic gatherings discussing the political situation in the past few years.
It is possible that three months or restrained public activity on account of Covid-19 fears constituted another depressing input to preparing for the polls.
Still, even this ability to call campaign rallies to prepare for the voting must surprise most of the world, this constituting another reason to be grateful for these blessings.