Tanzania: Sumaye to Chadema - Bye-Bye

FORMER Prime Minister Fredrick Sumaye has bitterly criticized what he claims is lack of democracy within the main opposition party CHADEMA.

He dropped the bombshell in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday, in remarks at a media briefing session, whose highlights included a decision to not only cease to be its member, but not to join any other party.

Mr Sumaye and another expremier, Mr Edward Lowassa, were two high-profile Establishment figures from the ruling CCM who joined the political opposition camp ahead of the 2015 General Election.

The relocation injected a doze of vibrancy onto Tanzania's political competition, with some analysts perceiving the situation as the start of a new political era in the country.

Mr Sumaye's departure, plus the decision by Mr Lowassa to rejoin CCM in March this year, is certainly one of the newest twists in the country's political dynamics.

Veteran politician, commentator and former National Assembly Speaker Pius Msekwa, says the decision of the two personalities to leave the opposition implies that they had joined the opposition camp out of anger.

"They left CCM on push factor--- it was because they wanted leadership in CCM in 2015 but they didn't get it; this made themleave," Mr Msekwa, remarked.

The former Speaker and one-time University of Dar es Salaam Vice Chancellor expressed his support to Mr Sumaye's latest decision, saying he is respecting his (Sumaye's) decision.

At the media briefing session, Mr Sumaye linked his decision to irregularities during intra-party elections for the Coastal zone chairmanship post and his consideration to vie for the party's national chairmanship to challenge the long-serving Freeman Mbowe.

He, however, lost in the Yes-No voting in the coastal zone in which he was a sole candidate.

Distressed Sumaye took the journalists four years back, mentioning reasons for his decision to cross to CHADEMA when he crossed to the opposition camp.

He said his intention was to consolidate the opposition camp and stimulate political competition and democracy as well as challenge the ruling party.

"When I joined opposition, I meant it. My contribution during campaigns was beneficial... I didn't go to CHADEMA to seek leadership," he stressed.

He called for true democracy within political parties and in the country in general in order to enable wananchi choose leaders of their choice.

Speaking on his take about recent intra-party elections in which he lost, Sumaye said he was requested by a group of party members to contest for the post, and he agreed.

"But, the problem came when I also decided to pick forms for contesting the national chairmanship post.

Although it was a constitutional right in the party, I also wanted to quash the feeling that the party was undemocratic and that the national chairmanship's post was unchallengeable and was exclusively Mr Freeman Mbowe's he explained, adding: "Although I had good intentions, the move backfired on me. Even if they wanted to protect Mr Mbowe, they should have used proper means, they instead campaigned against me in the Coastal zone intra-party elections, and they bribed voters in ensuring that I lost."

Mr Sumaye said he knew what was going to happen in the elections after such irregularities.

"I warned them that I would confirm to the public that it was true that there was no democracy in CHADEMA and that national chairmanship's post was unchallengeable, and even those who dared to do so in the past also got into the same trouble," he explained.

He recalled one of Mbowe's harsh statements to members saying: "During a party meeting in Arusha Region, Mr Mbowe cautioned us that poison can't be tested by a tongue, therefore I have no reason to test poison with my tongue."

At the same press conference, Chadema Coastal region Secretary, Casimir Mabina, resigned his position, saying he was not happy with what was happening in the party.

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