A political analyst, William Butler Yeats, once said, “Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking." This is exactly what Kigoma North lawmaker, Zitto Zuberi Kabwe and his party have done. They didn’t wait to strike till the iron was hot, but made it hot by striking it, and here we are today witnessing the forced resignation of eight cabinet ministers.
Their colleagues from the ruling party waited till the iron was hot and their dilly-dallying has given Kabwe and his party political mileage, the very same way it happened in 2007 when the ruling party’s lawmakers ganged up against the very same Kigoma North legislator.
Last year, in dealing with the David Jairo saga, it was Kabwe who led the battle before CCM hardliners rallied behind him and the result was the sacking of the former permanent secretary. The Richmond scam and details about the Bank of Tanzania’s External Payments Arrears account heist were first revealed by the opposition legislator, led by Dr. Willibrod Slaa, before CCM’s legislators hijacked the battle.
This week again, Kabwe stole the show when he decided to go after Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda. To prove that he was serious, the following day he managed to gather a total of 68 signatures. It is safe to assume that, come tomorrow when the motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister Pinda would have been moved, he would have gathered 70 signatures needed to table the motion.
Also, because the CCM lawmakers were blind or may not have known the danger lying ahead, hijacked Kabwe’s battle believing that,in so doing they had outsmarted him. But the truth of the matter is that Kabwe had given them enough rope with which to hang themselves.
Today, CCM legislators have hanged themselves while Kabwe and Chadema have scored a strong political victory, including winning the confidence of Tanzanians. It’s a game well played by Kabwe and his party on behalf of Tanzanians, who are tired of poor leadership and corruption. If finally the eight cabinet ministers’ resignation will be accepted by the appointing authority, we shall accord this victory to Kabwe and his party.
CCM will gain nothing out of this battle because it wasn’t their battle to begin with; they just hijacked it or were given enough rope by the very same legislators they booed last year. To a divided CCM, this could possibly be the beginning of the end because it can’t withstand the political storms from young and brilliant politicians from the opposition, Chadema.
CCM legislators might congratulate themselves for hijacking the battle, and finally forcing eight cabinet ministers to quit, but the truth is that it’s Chadema that wins politically by gaining the trust of Tanzanians. However, within CCM this has very little to do with the battle to combat corruption. It is rather the product of their internal divisions and struggle for power that has been rocking the party for some years now.
These cracks were brought about by one word: corruption. The word was Dr Slaa’s and his party’s war cry, especially when he unveiled the list of shame at Mwembe Yanga in Dar es Salaam in 2007.
During that time CCM legislators either ignored Slaa or called him a liar, but when they established that, the Chadema tough leader was gaining popularity while they were losing credibility before the public, they hijacked the Richmond and EPA scams.
The result was what President Kikwete described as ‘a political storm’ because then sitting Prime Minister Edward Lowassa and two cabinet ministers were forced to resign. The following day the entire cabinet was dissolved, but a new chapter of divisions and the politics of witch-hunting had been put in top gear.
Today CCM remains weak because it has never recovered from the Richmond hangover. For those who like democracy and accountability, the credit will always go to Kabwe and his party for putting CCM under constant pressure to the extent of it unwittingly being in a position to hang itself.