CCM mini-purge: 2015 polls chaos gives way to hybrid order

The point of departure that the president privileged in suggesting what is wrong with CCM was that members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) sang in a loud and clear voice their faith in sidelined nomination contender Edward Lowassa.

This is supposed to be the preliminary situation of divided loyalties, and so a new CCM comes up without any such contention of vision, and thus obedience.

It is doubtful whether this is indeed the point of departure of the changes in CCM, and the fact that it is being used as the reason implies that another pertinent reason is being sidelined and withheld from view.

It is difficult to comprehend the idea that President Magufuli who is also party chairman doesn’t know that it is him rather than anyone else who profited from the revolt of the NEC enacted before by then party chairman Jakaya Kikwete.

When he now pretends to punish that same revolt which was the setting to eliminate JK’s preferred nominee, Bernard Membe, one wonders as to the kind of altruism it is.

There is an American expression, ‘follow the money’ that one ought to considerably rely upon to understand the current changes, that there is indeed a specific goal being pursued at present which explains the purge, while the reasons of yesterday are a red herring.

The anger that the party chairman is expressing about NEC confidence in Lowassa is double edged, in that first it hides the fact that he was happy NEC members insulted JK in front of the party secretariat as he then gained from that revolt. The second aspect is that this anger is real, as it means he has to fight that image as it is still an active force in politics.

There is a slightly hidden aspect of reality that is however difficult to read into the current changes, though it makes sense as part of the spirit of loyalty as a whole, namely how far there is an impact of his policies and governance actions in restructuring party loyalties.

That is probably the more perplexing sphere, to figure out if the president is actually building party loyalties on the basis of his policies, or simply building a new party on the basis of candidacy results of 2017, as if those who weren’t happy with Lowassa being axed still pose a problem. Someone would also wonder as to why it is a big deal if one didn’t depart from CCM then.

If there is one disconcerting dimension of the political changes in CCM this is indeed the one, in that no inkling of evidence is available to suggest that the president is building a new political regime, party rank and file, to reflect the sort of governance measures he has been undertaking.

There is no constituency in the party which is being brought into action, and this is where the 2015 scenario links up with the present, in that groups which came into his fold for being anti-Lowassa are in a sense being converted into paragons of transparency and clean up.

Since they had their champion in ex-premier Joseph Warioba and even Nyerere Foundation executive director Joseph Butiku, they are sort of core CCM barometric expression of idealism, but they wouldn’t be adequate as a power base.

In that case there indeed an ideological alliance where the former Nyerere aides become an arm of the current order, whose more active spokesman is NEC Secretary for Ideology and Publicity, Humphrey Polepole.

Their opposition to ex-premier Lowassa is principled, though in that aspect it is difficult to bring about a semblance of consensus or cohesion in CCM, but 20 years of third and fourth phase policies have ensured that this is an ethical foundation of the ruling party as a whole. Paraphrased, it comes to a silent refusal to any measures in pursuit of economic reforms, sliding back nationalism in favor of liberalism.

While the big charge about Lowassa was the Richmond contract, the former premier was able to an extent to tell the public to look more closely and see who was the last decision maker and who was charged with implementation, which the public sort of agreed.

By the time the fourth phase was coming to an end, the problem in the country was far less that dispute than the burdensome manner in which the government was operating.

Various state authorities at central government and municipal authorities’ level devised means of gain, making their ends meet easily while others suffered under those burdensome costs.

The trap is whether this dimension of things is really a new school of thought or merely a new window of political opportunity where a number of people are entrusted to do the work the new party chairman wants.

Instead of being a platform on which mobilization is being made, it has become a demobilization platform, in removing regional secretaries from the NEC so that they don’t clash with regional chairmen.

It appears their interests are opposed, the secretaries being an appointed party cadre while the chairmen are elected officials, who belong to NEC more by right, not act of privilege.

At the same time it appears that the ‘we have confidence in Lowassa’ wasn’t just a clear expression of esteem for the former premier but confidence in the ways that the fifth phase is now combating, and this is where the loyalties picture gets confused.

There is a feeling in the Secretariat that original party loyalty from cadres who more or less rise in the party as servants of the party and those who come from outside, having succeeded in business and now having political ambitions to connect their businesses better. The latter is the tribe the fifth phase dislikes; success comes often from ‘deal making,’ a bad name.

When regional secretaries are out of NEC and only the chairmen are present, this reduces competition between them, but if regional secretaries don’t know party thinking as they don’t attend NEC, and are unsure of themselves because they are mere employees, is that positive for party cohesion?

In addition, party chairmen as elected officials also tend to be focusing on their businesses and canvas in personality terms instead of performance as regional secretaries would, if they were pursuing a legitimating effort. Just by attending NEC sessions regional secretaries are leaders, but JPM seems to be askance.

In a way the party chairman is reducing the role of party secretaries since he is boosting that of regional commissioners, a method that undercuts the frequently heard advice of secretary general Abdurahman Kinana.

He has been pursuing a strategy of a party bureaucracy actively checking the government, which JPM has now scuttled, as regional secretaries shall now be cowed, reduced in value. Regional chairmen won’t be dynamic, not step on any toes.

There is another disquieting area, where the chairman removes a leader of women’s wing in CCM without a credible replacement in the wings or at the public stage, but seeks to retain the grassroots support of Sophia Simba by nominating ex-first lady Salma Kikwete as MP.

That means she is now tasked with backroom canvassing that would otherwise be entrusted to Sophia, as what was positive about the latter was her position as chairperson of the women’s wing, not loyalties to Lowassa.

Charges that she was putting up a hijab and going to Lowassa’s house at night are gratuitous and superfluous. They are meant to hide deepening affinities between JPM and former State House team, even at the level of close assistants like Paul Makonda as RC and an ex-errands man for Ridhiwani Kikwete.