Hamad, who is himself contesting the Zanzibar presidency, told journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the party has decided to throw its weight behind Chadema’s Union presidential candidate, Tundu Lissu.
He said Lissu’s “visible appeal” among voters promised him (Lissu) a more significant chance than Membe of putting up an effective challenge to the ruling party in next Wednesday’s polls.
“It is quite clear that Membe doesn’t have enough appeal to convince voters as applies to Lissu, who has been attracting huge crowds for his rallies wherever he has been. This has assured us that joining forces enhances the possibility of removing CCM from power,” Hamad declared.
He said the party has been saddened by Membe’s decision to come out and announce that he was resuming campaign rallies while aware that the relevant organs of the party had decided to support Lissu.
“Membe’s announcement is invalid because the party is not party to that intention, having invested its capacities and appeal in supporting Lissu and thus bring about a revolution in the country,” Hamad added.
According to Hamad, the ACT-Wazalendo leadership said some two weeks ago that it had agreed to join forces with Chadema and support the latter party’s candidate (Lissu) “but it shocks us to see Membe planning to campaign again and declaring that he is still our party’s candidate”.
“It is not that we don’t love him, no, but we are struggling to have a more effective opposition in the General Election,” he added.
Hamad insisted that when the party’s leadership committee deliberated on the issue, Membe was present and similarly agreed to support Lissu, noting further: “But it has came as a surprise to us that he has decided to go against that agreement.”
ACT-Wazalendo made the shift in its Union presidential candidate preference after Chadema opted to throw its weight behind the ACT-Wazalendo candidate for the Zanzibar presidency, where Hamad is standing.
The two parties are still in limbo over whether to join forces in the parliamentary and councillorship polls, while they face tongue lashing from the National Electoral Commission (NEC) as fusion of candidacy for the Union presidency qualifies as an informal arrangement, not recognised under existing procedure.
Membe served as Foreign Affairs minister for nearly a decade during the Jakaya Kikwete presidency and sought CCM presidential nomination in 2015. He joined the opposition in July, and became candidate.
Hamad appealed to the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) to “demonstrate integrity” and stand for justice of all parties so as to ensure a free, fair and transparent election.
He said Zanzibaris are prepared to vote for the best leaders, so ZEC has to supervise the polls in accordance with the principles of democracy during the entire election.
On Monday, Membe declared that he was returning to campaigning and promoting the party’s 2020-2025 election manifesto, projecting a series of rallies in various regions.
NEC has set out August 16 to October 27 as the campaign period, and all schedules of campaigning drawn up by the candidates and their parties must be presented to the commission for approval, to ensure rival rallies do not coincide.
ACT Wazalendo has 160 aspirants vying for parliamentary seats and over 1,000 candidates contesting councillorship seats in the upcoming elections.
NEC meanwhile disqualified nearly 100 parliamentary contestants for Chadema, with 15 later approved to contest after lodging appeals.
Some 29 million people are registered to vote in the October polls compared to 23 million in the last General Election – in 2015. This is according to NEC data.