Meeting under the chairmanship of President John Magufuli, CCM stripped Simba – the outgoing chairperson of the party’s women’s wing - and four regional party chairmen of their membership to the party with immediate effect.
The party also issued "strong warnings" against other senior leaders, including central committee member ambassador Emmanuel Nchimbi, who was recently appointed by Magufuli as Tanzania’s high commissioner to Brazil.
Adam Kimbisa, the CCM party chairman for Dodoma region and a member of the central committee, was forgiven for unspecified allegations.
The CCM national executive committee (NEC), sitting under the chairmanship of President Magufuli, said it took the disciplinary action due to "unethical conduct" of the party members.
Sources close to the ruling party said some of the members were accused of being "traitors" and of sabotaging CCM in favour of opposition parties because of their alleged loyalty to Lowassa.
CCM publicity and ideology secretary, Humphrey Polepole, told journalists in Dodoma yesterday that apart from Simba, other senior party members who have been expelled include influential regional chairpersons Ramadhani Madabida (Dar es Salaam), Erasto Kwilasa (Shinyanga), Jesca Msambatavangu (Iringa) and Christopher Sanya (Mara).
Disciplinary action was also taken NEC members Ally Sumaye of Babati district (expelled), Mathias Manga of Arumeru district (expelled), Ali Mchumo of Kilwa district (strong warning), Ajili Kalolo of Tunduru district (expelled), Hassan Mazala of Singida urban district (expelled) and Valerian Buretta of Kibaha rural district (expelled).
CCM district chairpersons Omari Awadhi (Gairo), Ally Msuya (Babati), Makolo Laizer (Longido), Abeid Kiponza (Iringa Urban), Salum Madenge (Kinondoni), Assa Haroun (Ilala), Wilfred Mollel (Arusha) and Hamis Nguli (Singida) were expelled from the party, while Muhaji Bushako (Muleba) was given a strong warning.
Most of the CCM leaders were either expelled or warned came from areas that the ruling party suffered heavy defeats from opposition parties in parliamentary and local government polls in the 2015 general election.
Josephine Genzabuke, a special seats CCM Member of Parliament who is also the chairperson of the ruling party's UWT women's wing, was given a strong warning.
"Emmanuel Nchimbi, a member of the central committee, has been given a strong warning and has been instructed to apologise to the party. Adam Kimbisa has been forgiven," Polepole said without giving details.
“To prove to the public that the party is undergoing serious reforms, NEC delegates unanimously endorsed the decision to take these disciplinary measures to help restore public trust in the party.”
Interestingly, Nchimbi, Simba and Kimbisa as then members of CCM's central committee addressed a hastily arranged press conference in July 2015 to publicly oppose the decision of the party's central committee to remove Lowassa from a shortlist of presidential candidates.
In an unprecedented move, the three members broke ranks with the central committee and said they do not agree with the manner in which the presidential hopefuls were short-listed.
Lowassa, who was seen as the strongest contender among candidates seeking to become CCM's presidential candidate, was removed from a shortlist of candidates, leading to his dramatic defection to the opposition CHADEMA party.
In the contentious presidential nomination process, CCM finally picked John Magufuli as its flag bearer in the general election, but several ruling party members complained about a lack of transparency in the decision of the central committee.
President Magufuli, who succeeded former president Jakaya Kikwete as CCM's national chairman last year had promised to reform and clean up the country's oldest political party.
The NEC members meeting in Dodoma are also expected to approve radical new changes to the party’s constitution in which a good number of party senior officials will likely lose membership in influential decision-making bodies.
The sweeping changes, if approved, will see all regional and district party secretaries and their district counterparts cease being members of NEC.
“If they want to be NEC members, they will have to vie for the chairpersons’ position because the chairpersons get automatic NEC membership,” President Magufuli said earlier yesterday.
He told the NEC meeting regional secretaries were employees of the party and should only serve in those capacities. He reiterated that changes in any organisation are normal things.
Magufuli said he was warned that if district and regional party secretaries were dropped from NEC, the national chairperson would lose grip of the party.
“I understand their concerns, but I remember they were among those who were singing in favour of one candidate during the presidential nomination process before the last general elections” he said, adding that they failed to stand in support of the then party chairperson (Kikwete).
Magufuli was apparently referring to a bizarre situation in CCM's presidential nomination meetings in July 2015 when party members sang a song pledging their allegiance to Lowassa after he was ousted as a presidential hopeful instead of the national party chairman according to tradition.
The president made it clear that changes in the party were inevitable, urging those locked out of NEC not to worry since there are many positions in the government lead by the ruling party.
“We are the government and you can get any position just as you have seen, I have appointed several NEC members to other posts in the government and others to parliament,” he said.
Some analysts described CCM’s decision to expel over two dozen leaders as “harsh.”
Dr Benson Banna, a political scientist from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), said CCM could have been more lenient to the affected members.
“A careful assessment led to the decision taken to convict the victims accused of being more loyal to an individual than the party. I would have suggested having them reprimanded instead of being expelled,” Banna said.
“But the decision perhaps sends a clear message to many others that collective responsibility is the way to strengthen any political party. Members should avoid being driven by individual instincts. CCM is well established, therefore, the move will not cause any rift in the party.”