A major daily newspaper had a cartoon on Monday showing CCM Publicity Secretary Nape Nnauye having cut up and sewing up the party’s flag, which represented its constitution – implying that he was leading adviser or architect of the change of statutes intimated the previous week.
Such contentions are not new in governance in the country, as usually the bureaucracy sees decisions by the president –who is also the ruling party chairman – as a victory of this or that line of advice. In actual fact, those who have held the post from time to time see decisions as their own, not based on such advice.
The clearest example of his advice works in major issues of policy was in 1977 when the Open General License policy was taken up, with several importing companies given foreign exchange to import ‘popular’ goods.
That was different from the usual allocation of foreign exchange on the basis of real needs, especially to obtain industrial inputs as a priority, and not consumer goods. It was at that point that noted economist, presidential economic affairs adviser Prof. Justinian Rweyemamu left the State House, disappointed.
At the end of 1984, as he was preparing to leave the State House, President Nyerere was interviewed by Africa Now editor Peter Enahoro, touching on liberalization and what is implied or its consequences for the economy.
He said summarily that “in 1977 we accepted IMF advice to liberalize; we have regretted ever since,” as it was at that point that foreign exchange penury increased, and the Uganda war merely added insult to injury, and Ujamaa was on its way to collapse. By 1981 the situation was untenable.
Those who were in the media at the time and conducted some ‘research’ into the decision heard a completely different story, centering on whose advice was accepted by the president, and IMF simply being in the background.
It would follow that there was pressure by IMF to take that move, and the president sought for opinions or examination of the issue from different wings of his economic ‘team,’ or advisory departments. They were specifically the Bank of Tanzania (directorate of research and policy), the Board of Internal Trade, the Ministry of Finance and last, the presidential economic affairs adviser.
Agencies or ministries think of presidential decisions in terms of which interest group or institutional advice was accepted, while as the Africa Now interview showed, the president acted from ‘the big picture.’
What happened in 1977 was less an acceptance of the advice of Prof. Simon Mbilinyi who replaced Prof. Rweyemamu, or the Treasury for that matter, than accepting the IMF position (so as to get some standby facility or minor program loan, etc as no systematic
restructuring was on the cards). Only subjectively was it a matter of whose advice was accepted, in this case seemingly that of Prof. Mbilinyi…
In that case when the president moves to alter in a profound manner the constitution of CCM, and then one sees a cartoon in which the publicity secretary is sewing afresh the party flag, caution must be taken in comprehending such insinuation.
The idea that it is the secretary’s advice or plan that is being implemented is psychologically an effort to retain a link with the old party organization, or an authentic idea of the presidency, which in that sense would remain if not for the secretary. There are ample examples of that kind of situation in psychology, where a hand has been severed but the brain still commands it. In other words attributing changes in the party to this or that faction loses the content of the matter, namely that contentions in CCM are far too intense for the party to remain where it was.
Precisely what is the matrix of the issues is hard to tell, for there is at times a noticeable difference between contentions at a policy level and those at the institutional level, since policy contentions are resolved by the ‘hat’ of the presidency, while structural changes in the party relate to contradictions within the party itself.
In that case changes arise since there is excessive discomfort in how CCM works; the old consensus is dead.
Two points of transformation need to be examined, whether they were linked and are thus reciprocal, or each can be grasped on its own. The first is removing past party chairmen and vice chairmen for Zanzibar to create an elders’ council where they could be consulted when the need arises, and then separating members of Parliament and the National Executive Committee, with a view that the latter becomes a full time occupation, like parliamentary representation.
It means there are new tasks that NEC members need to fulfill which are underperformed by MPs becoming a core group of this executive body.
While as a matter of fact it is a bit easier to understand the move concerning Parliament, it is a bit harder to grasp the question of retired Union and Zanzibar presidents not sitting in the central committee.
But since its proceedings are totally in-camera, one needs to leave room for sentimental restructuring at that level as well, that maybe ‘two is a pair, three is a crowd’ logic relevant for conjugal affairs may apply there as well.
In retrospect, despite that Mwalimu was a pillar of central committee decisions during his retirement after leaving the party chairmanship in 1990, he could scarcely have retained that role by 1997 in the wake of the privatization of NBC, an unacceptable move in his decided view.
The trouble however is that when the party cannot operate consensually at the middle level (NEC membership) and at the top level (central committee membership) it is also a signal that it is becoming more or less dysfunctional, in relation to its old ethos.
When for instance the party secretariat and the NEC constitute a particular body of
individuals and the legislature another, chances of ethos of the party influencing polls diminish. The party retains a nominal role of selecting candidates; NEC and Parliament would no longer mix, implying also that issues arising from the cabinet would be less subject to NEC scrutiny.
That would imply a measure of peace for the president, for he has to resolve too many disputes arising from Parliament and being placed as NEC issues, whereas ‘original’ NEC members (from its ranks, not the legislature) support the president.
In that case the move is aimed at checking the flow of parliamentary radicalism into the party, and in so doing, eliminate individual executive bigwigs extending their base from Parliament to NEC. It makes it easier to act on them.
Two contrasting sets of implications arise, one relatively positive and another somewhat negative, the positive one being the intention to raise NEC membership to professional activity, as a ‘party civil servant.’ One reason for this shift is the increased contention in the political environment concerning the party vis a vis the opposition, and the party finds it is short of cadres at the NEC level, leaving positive mobilisation to party secretaries in various regions. Most of the rest tend to be MPs, whose berth is Parliament, and use their NEC membership merely as a gauge for prestige, for instance in seeking the presidential candidacy nomination.
In an environment where the party as such is represented by the government, and only needs to conduct its business as an auxiliary activity, while its political activity is tied up with the government and Parliament, the old structure was adequate.
But when MPs are tied up with issues relating to electioneering loyalties and constituency infighting, for which they use NEC to gain an advantage over other factions or individuals, this becomes a bit unworkable. And when the party is besieged by the opposition, and needs cadres to go around and speak for it, reliance on MPs proves to be totally unhelpful, so it changes.
The only area where a measure of instability may arise from the current changes is if they will vastly affect operations of the central committee.
The central committee is perhaps not vital for day to day work of the presidency, though by and large it exercises an influence on the president’s choices. But as the above note underlined, at times there is such a discrepancy between past and present policies such that a clearly institutionalized advisory role becomes untenable. There are elements of such a situation at present, but the core functions of ensuring political stability could also suffer from structural change, of there being no central committee checking function on the presidency.
In 1984 Sheikh Thabit Kombo had to be taken with medical support from KCMC to nominate the person to take over from Isles President Aboud Jumbe, as otherwise Mwalimu could touch a revolt in Zanzibar by a domineering posture after Jumbe's destitution.
In 1995 no one could have stopped then vice chairman John Malecela from running for the nomination except Mwalimu, and in 2000 it would be hard to see who would stop erstwhile chief minister Dr Gharib Mohamed Bilal from running, outside ex-vice president Rashidi Kawawa.
In the event of a tussle in the nomination run in 2015, only the active presence of ex-presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Benjamin Mkapa would instill discipline, and to an extent retired president Amani Abeid Karume; all others would be part of the fighting
and could be attacked in public and finish off what still remains of institutional cohesion of CCM.
That is why President Kikwete isn’t supposed to sit in the central committee only with leaders still active in office or seeking office, as central committee role is really that of elders who aspire to nothing in terms of rank or power. They similarly cannot be attacked by anyone in relation to their central committee role without such a person vividly having a suicide syndrome.