Tanzanians are hearing a lot from mandarins within the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) right now. It isn’t the first time, nor have we heard the last, from the party’s palaver.
The ‘chatter box’ was set off by Frederick Tluway Sumaye, a man now politically wounded by a woman of his own making, if the grapevine is to be believed.
Having lost his bid for a seat in the party’s inner-circle National Executive Committee (NEC) in his native Hanang District to Mary Nagu, the man cried foul – saying his defeat had come at the altar of rampant graft within the ruling party.
Now that isn’t news -- or is it? The defeat itself wouldn’t make news if the loser were a common mortal like the rest of us; the man nursing the wounds of defeat is said to have his eyes set on the presidency come 2015 – even though he is quick to defend himself that his defeat would count for nothing if he threw in the gauntlet for the highest office in the land.
But that’s beside the point; our attention is drawn to the current debate over open records revealing deepening rot within the party now holding the reins of power – the power not just to fight corruption within its own ranks but the potential power to also fight creeping corruption in our midst.
For the record, Fred had a point: some elements, many of them, within CCM are, indeed, the personification of corruption. In Nzega not so long ago, it led to a near shoot-out between contending men from the ruling in a NEC seat. We dare not conjure up what would have happened in Hanang if Mary Nagu were a man!
Open anger – and the near physical confrontation we witnessed in Nzega -- are but signs of a more serious illness eating at the core of public standing and integrity among those claiming to be leading us. As voters, we deserve better than the personal vendettas – and weeping -- we are witnessing from our leaders.
As a first step, we have to acknowledge we have a huge problem in our hands; the second, and more important step, we’ve to set out and deal with it squarely for the benefit of all. But what do we get from CCM?
It’s quite easy to dismiss Sumaye’s woes as the tantrums of a defeated man; it’s quite another to look beyond that individual misfortune and accept the emerging larger picture looming on the horizons. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, who holds the national CCM chair, warns that corruption is driving the ruling party into an abyss; we dare it’s pulling everyone of us along, too!
While that remains clear, some mandarins within the ruling party now say there’s nothing to report home about graft in CCM.
It would be laughable if it weren’t so silly. Yes, it’s silly to pretend we don’t have a huge problem in our hands!