Tanzania’s oppostion party tries e-politics

AT a time when almost everybody and everything is going electronic, a major opposition party in Tanzania has ventured to lead the way for the rest of Africa in e-politics by introducing a new way of recruiting members and raising funds.

From this week, Tanzanians wishing to join Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) will not have to go through the hassles of filling in membership forms anymore. Instead, they will have to send text messages to 15170 with a word ‘CHADEMA’ to gain automatic entry into the party’s membership database after which they will have access to relevant information and services provided by the party.

According to the party chairman, Freeman Mbowe, this system will enable the party to widen the base of its members as well as increasing its financial resources in preparation of next year’s general elections.

The strategy targets Tanzania’s 15 million mobile phone subscribers, of whom CHADEMA aims at recruiting at least 3,000,000 by the end of next year. As of now, the party has the strongest opposition following in the country, but its subscribed membership is only 800000.

For every new electronic member CHADEMA will obtain 300/- (equivalent to 7p), which would give the party 900,000,000/- (equivalent to 21 million pounds) to supplement the party’s financial resources for the 2010 election campaigns.