The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) has brushed aside any possibility of losing popularity and eventual crumbling due to the continued stream of crossing over of many of its members to the main opposition party Chadema, noting that the members involved were not its support base.
CCM says the entire issue of CCM members leaving for Chadema did not reflect the reality as there was contention on the actual number reported and political influence of those individuals.
The party’s ideology and publicity secretary, Nape Nnauye has told The Guardian in an interview that CCM has analysed the situation internally and has concluded that there is factual incorrectness on the numbers reported.
“Figures reported are in some way just hoaxes, as there are some places where 5,000 CCM members were reported to have joined Chadema, only to be found out that the total number of residents of the particular areas did not reach the number of defectors,” noted Nape.
He stated: “We have in the past experienced big names crossing over to opposition including cabinet ministers such as Maalim Seif (Shariff Hamad) and still the party remained stable.
So when you look intently at present where some politicians are leaving CCM only six or seven people are significant politically, while the rest are a scrap material,” he said.
Among significant politicians who have left CCM are councillors in Arusha and Sengerema and more notably James ole Millya, then Arusha regional chairman for UVCCM.
Millya said last month he was leaving because the ruling party had failed to serve the people and rid them of poverty, but the CCM secretariat said they were actually buying time waiting for Millya’s departure as he was a burden to the party.
Nape also told this paper that everyone should be reminded that opposition leaders and members were once CCM members, who quit gradually following restoration of multiparty politics in 1992.
“CCM as a parent we are pleased to have opposition political parties whose members are as our grandchildren who are growing up and criticize. We see this as politically healthy and not a disgrace,” he further affirmed.
He said CCM was bold to tell the public that it has between five and six million members and challenged the opposition to declare the size of their party memberships. Nape asserted that opposition parties operate as groups of activists, thus advising them to amend that stance and operate as parties instead.
“Looking at the country’s population, it is unbecoming for a serious political party to enjoy recruiting members from other political parties.
We have a population of about 44 million, so it would be logical to bring on board fresh members and get away from these members who keep joining various parties. CCM seeks fresh members and we urge the opposition to follow suit,” the publicity chief intoned.
A lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, Bashiru Ally told this paper that although the current exodus of CCM members was not completely new, it was of its kind since it involves members of lower cadre, unlike in the period after 1992 which was top down, as popular politicians left the ruling party.
“There is much effect of the economic downturn coupled by unemployment in urban and rural areas, increased grievances on misuse of public funds and land grabbing. People are aware of the situation regardless of their residence, whether it is urban or rural areas,” he stated.
Bashiru affirmed that there is much change in the political arena as there are more activities at the local government level which have led to large amounts of cash being directed to local authorities. The level of mismanagement and embezzlement is higher at this level than central government, thus triggering anger on the government of the day and its ruling party.
“All these developments definitely favour the opposition who have strategically capitalized on matters affecting people’s day to day living by conducting constant campaigns like ‘Operation Sangara,’ he further said.
“The major intention is to depict that all the happenings are due to the ruling party’s poor handling of key public matters, thus hoping to seize power in the coming elections,” the lecturer elaborated.
“And they are smart. They do not touch global factors such as skyrocketing oil prices because such factors could result into analytical thinking on the part of their listeners,” he pointed out.
For some months Chadema has vigorously held rallies, through which thousands of CCM members are reported to be defecting causing shockwaves on the political platform. Areas where the main opposition party’s rallies addressed by Secretary General Dr Wilibrod Slaa have left notable landmarks, including Arusha, Kilimanajaro, Manyara, Shinyanga, Mwanza and Geita.
It is a strategy focusing on the next general elections in October 2015.
During the ruling party’s pivotal meetings of the Central Committee (CC) and the National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings in Dodoma, CCM Chairman President Kikwete was reported to have told members that whoever did not feel comfortable in CCM was free to leave.
Reports said that he was adamant that it was not proper for CCM members to stay in the party while they were not comfortable with its orientations and policies.