10 Nov 2009

THE ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi, which has been in power for more than 30 years, is in imminent danger of formally splitting within the next few months as a direct result of the increasingly messy ideological battle now being fought within its ranks.

Well-placed sources within CCM itself have confirmed to THISDAY that a number of ruling party members of parliament, along with other senior CCM cadres, are contemplating leaving the ruling party altogether because of concerns over its direction in the fight against grand corruption.

”There is now a real danger that CCM will have become irreparably split by February 2010...and that is bound to precipitate a significant leadership exodus from the ruling party,” a senior CCM legislator told THISDAY in an interview.

The senior ruling party MP described the fierce accusations and counter-accusations traded at CCM’s parliamentary caucus meetings in Dodoma last week as part of an ”ideological battle within the party being fought in public.”

Various prominent CCM legislators and cadres have already told THISDAY separately that they would definitely consider leaving the party if the top leadership under the chairmanship of President Jakaya Kikwete does not seriously and conclusively address the grand corruption problem within the party sooner rather than later.

And the general public feeling is that they would be joined by scores more influential CCM cadres, in what might be the biggest bail-out from the party since its formation in 1977.

Although it remains unclear if the looming breakaway group would form its own political party or opt to join one of the existing opposition parties in the country, analysts say it would most certainly present the biggest test for CCM at the October 2010 general elections.

The late Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, is on record as predicting once upon a time that the real political opposition in Tanzania would emerge from within CCM itself.

It is now widely believed that following the general inconclusiveness of last weeks highly-charged CCM parliamentary caucus meetings in Dodoma held under the auspices of the ’Three Wise Men’ committee chaired by former president Ali Hassan Mwinyi, the future of the ruling party now rests firmly in the hands of its national chairman, incumbent President Kikwete.

The Mwinyi committee � also comprising ex-East African Legislative Assembly Speaker Abdulrahman Kinana and current CCM Vice Chairman Pius Msekwa � was formed to delve into the current serious rifts among ruling party MPs, and is now expected to submit its report to President Kikwete within the next few weeks, along with recommendations on how to go about restoring party unity in the face of the current crisis.

The president is then likely to discuss the Mwinyi committee report with members of the party’s top-tier central committee, before presenting it before the CCM national executive committee in December or January for final decision-making.

”The fate of our party now rests in the chairman’s (Kikwete’s) hands. What President Kikwete does after receiving the report from the Mwinyi committee will be crucial. Only he knows,” another senior CCM lawmaker told THISDAY.

Kishapu MP Fred Mpendazoe Tungu (CCM) is amongst those who have openly hinted at the growing potentiality of a formal split within the ruling party, asserting during last week’s parliamentary caucus meetings in Dodoma that CCM as a political party now needs to clearly state its position in the fight against grand corruption.

Another CCM insider told THISDAY on the sidelines of the caucus meetings: ”CCM has been hijacked by a network of corrupt politicians who appear determined to continue looting public funds. The day of reckoning has now come for our party, founded by Nyerere and (former Zanzibar president Abeid Amani) Karume as a party for the working class and peasant farmers - not for wealthy businessmen seeking ill-gotten wealth.”

According to reports from within the caucus meetings, the names of at least four prominent CCM legislators - Edward Lowassa, Rostam Aziz, Andrew Chenge, and Yusuf Makamba - were the focus of most of the deliberations.

Both Lowassa, the ex-prime minister, and Rostam have become heavily implicated in the now-infamous Richmond power generation scandal, leading to Lowassa�s resignation from the premiership in February last year. Ex-attorney general Chenge was also forced to resign from his subsequent ministerial position after being similarly heavily-linked to the military radar corruption investigation.

As for Makamba, the current CCM secretary general and MP by virtue of presidential nomination, he has been described by various members of the CCM parliamentary caucus as a close ally of the Lowassa-Rostam-Chenge group.

Parliamentary sources say these four individuals are seen as the main players in a network of politicians which has forged a particularly-powerful alliance within the ruling party over the past decade or so. Insiders say CCM legislators are now sharply divided in three distinct groups - those who support the Lowassa-Rostam-Chenge-Makamba alliance, those who oppose it, and those who are basically neutral.




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