19 November 2012

Tanzania: CCM At Kizota - All's Well That Ends Well

ALL's well that ends well, so the saying goes. Yet in the beginning it looked like things would go bad during the just-ended 8th CCM National Congress in Dodoma.

Yet the political and ruling party of many years displayed a high level of political maturity. In short, the three-day congress, held at the party's conference complex at Kizota on the outskirts of Dodoma municipality, was a success.

It set the direction and right path for the party on the way to the next general elections in 2015. It was a hectic week that painted Dodoma with a different look altogether as over 4,000 delegates and invited guests flocked the municipality, which is the new national capital designate, making it run short of social services such as accommodation.

Some people had to sleep in their cars! The week started with a wrong foot when the news broke out that several leaflets had been distributed in Dodoma town calling for delegates of the congress to 'separate power' by voting someone else other than President Jakaya Kikwete to lead the party.

What was flabbergasting though was the fact that leaflets were not seen in the streets of the town before one of the party's cadres called a press conference to accuse other members of the party for having engineered the move.

It was Mr Agustino Matefu, a delegate congress, who broke the news for the first time and displayed the leaflets before members of press and changed the atmosphere in the party's capital when thousands had already reported for the meeting that witnessed the election of top leaders of the party.

The CCM cadre and a member of the party's national congress, Mr Hussein Bashe, and three others, namely Beno Malisa, Martine Shigela and Fred Lowassa, were accused by Mr Matefu of being behind the power separation movement.

However, things were neutralised the following day when Mr Bashe called a press conference and reaffirmed his loyalty to the party's national chairman, President Jakaya Kikwete, saying that he opposes any move aiming at power separation in the party.

"I supported President Kikwete in 2005 and I have much trust and faith in him - and I will continue to believe in him and support him as the chairman of my party," he said. Mr Bashe further noted that he wrote a letter to the then CCM Secretary General, Mr Wilson Mukama, asking him to take measures against some members who were tarnishing his image and that of others.

The Dodoma District CCM Elders Council also reacted on the matter issuing a statement saying that any move to separate powers at the party's top leadership was highly unwelcomed as it would weaken the party.

The Council's Secretary, Mr Mohamed Makbel said that elders in the district met and discussed on the rumors that some members were campaigning for separation of power and found it unhealthy for the party. "A motion to separate these titles was discussed in 1980's and it was found out that it is not healthy for the party.

We therefore recommend that the current system prevail for the betterment of the party," he said. The Council's Chairman, Ambassador Job Lusinde who was in the cabinet during the leadership of the late Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere said that those who were calling for separation of power did not know how bad it was for the party.

"It will be very unfair to blame President Kikwete for economic downturn well knowing that this is a result of global financial crunch and this is not a strong point which can lead to call for power separation," he said. He noted further that it was a high time CCM members looked at positive things that the fourth phase government has done such as opening up the country by building so many roads and stop focusing on trivial issues.

These voices and many others that criticized the move to some extent brought the pressure down but still many were worried of what the result of the meeting would be and some thought that it would end with disparities.

It is important to note that when the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) met in one voice appointed President Jakaya Kikwete to re-run for the post of party's chairmanship and the decision was a sign that the party's top boss would retain his post.

However, the debate arose over the percentage at which the incumbent chairman would get in the re-election bid as it was still believed by some people that a big group of members opposed Mr Kikwete in 1that capacity. In his opening remarks, President Kikwete reminded delegates of the congress on the importance of ensuring that the party remains united after the meeting.

He quoted some words of wisdom from the late Mwalimu Nyerere who said "unity is power". President Kikwete also emphasized on the meeting's theme which stated that 'unity is victory, victory and unity' saying that nothing would be achieved in absence of unity.

He also cautioned them over the tendency by some members to associate themselves with the groups that are backing some bigwigs within the party who are eying presidency in 2015, saying that it was very unhealthy for party to operate in such a style.

The President's speech had to a large extent plaid a big role in making delegates think beyond the boxes of their groups within the party and instead think at the wider scope and focus on sustaining their party. Also while campaigning for President Kikwete, the Former CCM Secretary General, Mr Yussuf Makamba told members of congress that the party's chairman had shown remarkable ability in implementing the party's manifesto.

"Our contract with President Kikwete was the manifesto that we gave him to implement and he has to a larger extent fulfilled our expectations and that is why we should re-elect him to continue with the good work he has done to us," he said.

Mr Makamba also criticized those who were proposing for separation of power in the party, saying such views were made out of greed and not for the party's betterment. "It is funny saying that President Kikwete should remain with one title while some of those proposing the move have proved failure even in one post that they are holding in their respective areas," he said.

He said that President Kikwete remained the best coach who deserved to continue coaching the party's leadership to victory in the forthcoming general election in 2015. "The journey to the state house in 2015 starts here at the congress. Let's vote wisely by electing a good coach," he said.

At the end all was well as the national congress re-elected President Kikwete being giving him 99.92 of all the votes casted. President Kikwete scooped 2395 out of 2397 of the votes casted while the Former Secretary General of the Party, Mr Philip Mangula was elected Vice Chairman (Mainland) after he had scooped 2397 (100 per cent) and the President of Zanzibar, Dr Ali Mohammed Shein scooped 2397 (100 per cent) of all the votes casted and became the vice chairman (Zanzibar).

The party had surprised its political rivals with such a 'wonderful end' despite the hiccups that were witnessed in the beginning. Indeed "all is well that ends well".

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