CCM's powerful wings have suddenly found themselves in very unfamiliar territory. The parents', women's and youth wings of the ruling party were until recently not used to being lectured about or accused of corruption, but that is exactly what the CCM chairman, President John Magufuli, is doing.
Opening the ninth general assembly of the youth wing, UVCCM, in Dodoma on Sunday, Dr Magufuli, in his trademark blunt style, said corruption was entrenched in UVCCM, and warned the wing's members against electing corrupt leaders.
For many years it was an open secret that tidy sums of money changed hands in the run-up to CCM wing elections, but nobody within the party dared to speak out against the vice. It was simply unthinkable. People with deep pockets were buying leadership positions like nobody's business, but this was calmly swept under the carpet to protect the party's image.
Times have changed, and Dr Magufuli is now taking the corruption bull within CCM by the horns. It is something the hitherto untouchable wings will have to learn to live with in the foreseeable future.
Dr Magufuli knows that the CCM-led government cannot claim to own the anti-corruption agenda while graft is left to fester unchecked in the party's wings. CCM must first put its own house in order if the party is to retain any semblance of credibility as far as the war on institutionalised corruption is concerned.
Dr Magufuli's detractors may accuse him of washing his linen in public by exposing corrupt dealings in his own party, but this is exactly what CCM, which some dismiss as an ancient monster stuck in the past, needs - a healthy dose of openness that should serve as a basis for transformation.
AVERT ELECTION BOYCOT
The opposition coalition Ukawa has, not surprisingly, threatened to boycott the January 13 by-elections in three constituencies and six wards across the country. Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe said the Opposition could not take part in elections whose outcomes had already been predetermined.
However, National Electoral Commission (NEC) executive director Ramadhan Kailima was quoted yesterday saying preparations for the by-elections were going on smoothly, and dismissed the Opposition's demand that the polls be called off to pave the way for talks, adding that the law was strict on election deadlines.
Although the elections are only a month away, NEC and political parties can and should find a way out of the current impasse and avert a boycott that would seriously damage the credibility of the polls.
There is no denying the fact that the run-up to the November 26 civic by-elections, which saw CCM win 42 of the 43 seats on offer, was marred by violence and undue involvement of security and other state agencies. NEC, the political parties registrar and political parties themselves all have a duty to safeguard and promote democracy in Tanzania.