Leading opposition political party, Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) has inched up its campaign parameters with explicit focus on the coming general elections, though a respectable three and half years away as yet.
In a well attended rally at Jangwani grounds in the heart of Dar es Salaam yesterday, party chairman Freeman Mbowe started shifting the image of his party from the traditional Chadema to a more general Movement for Change (M4C), as a new campaign strategy to cover the breadth of the country and bring more disgruntled groups into its fold.
Plenty of what was discussed in the meeting related to current preparations for the participation of many civic and political groups to give their views in the just commenced national Constitutional Review process.
Mbowe told the rally that the party was substantially changing from what CCM publicity secretary Nape Nnauye lately derided as “groups of activists” as different from CCM which is a proper political party. He said Chadema was becoming a serious political party, ready to clinch to power in the polls after three years.
“This is already a strong political party and therefore we have to carry on with a vigorous campaign to ensure that we reach every part of the country. We are determined to do so but we need public backing as financial resources are vital to success,” he said at the rally televised live by Independent Television (ITV).
He cautioned CCM to recognize that Chadema is a major and popular party that deserves respectful treatment from all sorts of government organs and the political leadership, “contrary to what is routinely the case at present.” He stated that the party was not ready to be swayed by a few individuals with intention to cause disharmony and even disintegration. “The party will decide but through statutory meetings; this is what democracy requires. Let us discuss issues of national interest and not one light person.”
The party leader seemed to cultivate a consensus to let fall on the side the contention in Chadema concerning certain pronouncements on 2015 polls process mande by Maswa West MP John Magale Shibuda.
He surprisingly told an audience around the recent meeting of the policy making National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of CCM that he would seek the presidency in 2015 through Chadema, and would ask outgoing President Jakaya Kikwete to be his manager.
On the constitutional review process, prominent lawyer Tundu Lissu, also the party’s legislator for Singida East told the gathering that when the constitutional review commission starts reaching the people soon, the status and format of the Union should be sought and clarified.
He asked how many countries there are in the union, heads of state as well as commanders-in-chief of the armed forces.
“The Constitution of the United Republic says we have one country but the Zanzibar Constitution stipulates that Zanzibar is a country too. Likewise the Union Constitution provides that there is one Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces whereas the Zanzibar Constitution says the Zanzibar President is Commander in Chief of the Zanzibar Special Forces. The case is the same for the status of Union President and the Zanzibar President in the perspective of two constitutions,” the advocate intoned.
He also urged the government to heed Chadema’s demand to amend the Constitutional Review Act to avoid having a Constitutional Assembly constituted by a large number of members with the same political inclination.
On the basis of the current Act governing the constitutional review process, about 400 members out of the designated 745 members likely to sit in the Assembly will be drawn from CCM and CUF on the basis of their parliamentary and House of Representatives position. The two parties have an existing political alliance which would consequently give them disproportionate say in that kind of situation,” the MP insisted.
That kind of assembly cannot result in bringing out the desired constitution, as it does not reflect the breadth of Tanzanians but favors party affiliation,” he contended.
He also said the need for amendments on the said law was necessary because National Electoral Commission (NEC) which is empowered to administer the Referendum was not trustworthy to carry out the duties due to the previous experience lacked fairness and has been involved in various irregularities.
On his part, Chadema Secretary General Dr. Wilibrod Slaa took to task President Jakaya Kikwete and tendency to appoint large cabinets of ministers.
He said in Britain the Prime Minister has power to appoint 20 ministers “and if he wants to appoint more than those he would cover the cost for the extra minister from his own coffers.” He told the mostly youthful audience to ask in whose interest are large cabinets when the Warioba Commission (for constitutional review) comes to you ask them this.