Abbas Tarimba and TFF polls: Lack of popularity or systemic problem?

17Jun 2021
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Abbas Tarimba and TFF polls: Lack of popularity or systemic problem?

WHILE office bearers for the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF)'s next term of office are about to go through the final rites of having been elected, a section of stakeholders was expressing doubts as to the validity of the forthcoming polls, on account of some strong contenders failing .

Abbas Tarimba

Some contributors to the discussion on the issue over some FM radios were saying they had not heard of the ‘endorsement’ element earlier, and it in a sense remained somewhat troubling that a strong candidate like the Kinondoni MP, Abbas Tarimba, could not return forms.

The issue that arises is whether this was a personal problem or it was systemic as some maintain.

One such individual, and he ought to know as he served as TFF secretary general for years is Angetile Osiah, a veteran editor with top-level experience in TFF, who went as far as saying that the polls have been impaired, virtually ruling that they will be held as invalid.

Even serving secretary general Wilfred Kidau went as far as cautioning those in charge of organizing the polls to beware that the international federation (FIFA) could intervene and invalidate the polls afterward.

It is thus hard to ignore voices expressing deep concern on what is happening, but at the same time, it does not show the polls’ invalidity.

It is unclear how far those who failed to obtain endorsement from eligible regional leaders forming part of the football organization apex, like membership of its general meeting or electoral conclave make a difference in how the polls are being organized.

For once, of those who failed to return forms, there is only Abbas Tarimba as the notable absence, and in the discussions, this name topped the list of those who most commentators appeared to be concerned about.

The others who returned forms and are also looking for the top post did not seem to elicit much interest, outside incumbent, Wallace Karia, and ex-Yanga midfielder, Ally Mayay, who is well known in broadcasting circles as a top analyst of the game, at present.

Based on a write-up available online, four other contenders returned forms to seek for the president slot, including former MP, Ally Saleh, who is also a veteran journalist and current affairs analyst.

He was not as much involved in sports in a professional capacity as Ally Mayay but there is an aspect of the organization where he may have more to show off, to the public or the electoral body when it convenes.

The other three who also seek the top post aren’t familiar at least to this reviewer, which may indicate not being media savvy, acknowledged public personalities but get solid followings, constituency.

Still, Ally Saleh faced hardship as a Zanzibari, who have their association, another league, separately.

That is how one begins to pierce into some weaknesses of the camp that says the polls risk becoming sort of invalid, as there is only one significant case of failing to return forms because those who are expected to sign are seemingly obedient to the incumbent.

That may explain the lack of endorsements in the sense that of the two those who were asked to endorse think that the current holder is more suited to the office, and in any case, that argument is easy to prolong without being a stakeholder in the TFF polls.

In a routine way of putting it, the Kinondoni MP is blessed as a businessman and politician, he does not need the post.

It is this very sufficiency of the contender which both raises a furor as well as resolve a priori, since there was no movement on the part of the incumbent or organizing committee to stop him picking forms, saying for instance that he is an elected MP and could mix ‘politics with sports.’

Nor is there a running battle with the incumbent at an organizational level, way for instance there is a battle between Yanga and TFF on account of some differences on pinpricks like Bernard Morrison and rescheduling of the city rivals’ duel at which Yanga refused to field the team.

Still, it is not the club as a whole that is mindful of the tensions but portions of it, so Ally Mayay picked forms and returned them, Tarimba poses a different sort of issue.

As none of those talking on one or two FM radios ventured to say why Tarimba did not get endorsement votes – and then proceeded to question the very need for those votes, ignoring the fact that nobody else failed the test, as it were – it cannot be speculated what TFF contentions relate to the businessman at present.

But plenty of water has passed under the TFF bridge in the two last years, and if this bridge is extended to include wider national issues, universal disdain for the TFF contender may arise not just from friends of the TFF incumbent but from wider society.

He may be representing an aspect of electoral contentions that many in soccer organizations do not like, or he may be overly identified with such issues.

If he is the face of what they dislike, those who gained by heavy-handedness, he encounters stony faces.

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