Last Sunday, the ruling party, CCM, officially marked, at the Mnazi Mmoja grounds (which does not any longer spot any coconut tree) in Dar es Salaam the successful end of their party elections in the country’s theoretical capital of Dodoma.
The leading pronouncement at the dominated green/yellow shirted/dressed meeting was the party’s resolve to deal with corruption, starting with those who were elected to various posts in Dodoma after allegedly ‘greasing’ the palms of the electorates.
The party chairman, President Jakaya Kikwete twice expressed his concern over increased resort by some members to corruption in the party’s elections, the first time being after the election of the UWT leadership.
Understandably, leading the pack of newly elected CCM’s top brass at the Mnazimoja grounds was Phillip Mangula (pictured) whose face clearly showed the deep-seated hate the man had on corruption.
It was not difficult to discern why Mangula had pronounced his crusade against corruption with such venom.
The old man’s defeat at the polls, and in his own backyard in Iringa seven years ago, was attributed to corruption.
Soon after his defeat, Mangula is quoted by the media to have said that the party he had known had changed quite considerably, that it was now not easy for one to win an election in the ruling party without being backed by wads of notes.
But now that Mzee Mangula is back in the party’s saddle as its vice chair it would be interesting to ask him if his political comeback is a result of money being splashed in his favour.
Answering the foregoing question, and honestly at that, will help Mzee Mangula in handling his newly entrusted job of fighting corruption in the ruling party.
Yes, he has to explain to the public how leaders in the same party who were quoted by the media as describing him as aging dangerously (anazeeka vibaya) after he accused some elements in the party of having engineered, through corruption, his downfall had finally decided to take him back to the fold.
Without explaining his political comeback after being reduced to nothing by a political nondescript, there is a danger of those who have been following his pronouncements closely to believe that having failed to beat them, Mzee Mangula had finally decided to join them!
Mzee Mangula’s second challenge, of course, lies in the pronouncements he made, namely, his resolve to deal fairly and squarely with supposed corrupt elements in the ruling party.
The question is how sure is he that those around him are as committed as he is in the war against corruption?
The importance of this question lies in the fact that Mzee Mangula’s pronouncements are not different from those made by his immediate predecessor, Mzee John Mukama at the height of what came to be referred to as the ‘vuamagamba’ war (sloughing of skin, jettisoning of supposed corrupt elements from the party).
Mzee Mukama’s pronouncements then remained what they are, harmless political jargon which at the end of the day may have led to his removal from the second most powerful post, after the chairmanship, in the ruling party!
Mzee Mangula should therefore come out clean on his political comeback if he wants to be taken seriously on his last Sunday’s pronouncements which were buttressed by the newly appointed CCM Secretary General, Lt. Colonel (rtd) Abdulrahman Kinana who told the cheering crowd how difficult it would be for corrupt elements to find their way into Mzee Mangula’s court.
As for the entire party, this is perhaps the last chance CCM has to clean its act before the mother of all elections, the 2015 General Election, when President Kikwete is expected to step down after completing two five-year terms.
With three years to go, it is highly unlikely that the ruling party will ever have another chance, after even years of political turbulence that witnessed, among other events, the resignation from the post of prime minister of a major architect of President Kikwete’s election in 2005, Edward Lowassa.
Going by what happened during the last general election in 2010 when the opposition Chadema gave the ruling party a run for their money, CCM will definitely have to work extremely hard in winning the hearts and minds of Tanzanians if they want to do well in the forthcoming general election.
And that hard work starts with the party’s tattered image revolving around corruption that has characterized its elections.
And the immediate challenge Mzee Mangula and his team face is how to deal with highly placed party members some of whom are believed to be where they are through paying delegates.
The problem Mzee Mangula and his team face is that to date there is no evidence, in the form of say arrests, of those caught in the act, bribing the electorate.
That being the case, how is Mzee Mangula and his team going to weed out corrupt elements in the absence of solid evidence against those alleged to have bribed their way to top?
The second challenge facing Mzee Mangula and his team is the fact that corruption allegations in the party’s just ended elections were not made by the opposition, but by highly placed members of the ruling party, including the party chairman, President Kikwete.
Had such allegations been made by the opposition or anybody from outside the ruling party, it would have been easy to ignore it, but sweep it under the carpet is risky at the moment.
Since these charges were made by high profile party members, Mzee Mangula and his team have no alternative but to deliver on the matter, and that is where the problem lies!
If they fail to deliver by sacrificing a few heads here and there, then they will have created a major problem, with a first against themselves as individuals and secondly, the ruling party at large.
And once that happens, it will certainly come to haunt the party come the year 2015, as no opposition party as we know it today is going to spare them!
Last Sunday the party chairman directed the newly appointed party secretariat to go to the people to explain the party’s resolve to deal, once and for all, with corruption.
What may have raised a number of eyebrows was the party chairman’s warning to his party that the days of depending on the police were now over.
The party chairman’s mention of the police was an admission that the police have been used in the past in restraining the opposition, a claim that has repeatedly been made by Chadema.
Such pronouncement coming as it did from the Commander-in-Chief of the country’s armed forces speaks volumes about the immediate past role of the police force in Tanzania’s political landscape.
In a nutshell, it puts the police in a very tight spot in that, they can no longer claim to have been doing what they did against the opposition purely for security reasons.
But what the party chairman said what he said in relation to the police can only mean one thing, that he is sick and tired over what has been going on in his party that he has resolved that it is now or never.
Now if the foregoing conclusion is correct, then this is very good because it augurs well for the future of the ruling party.
The party chairman’s statement on the police helped in bringing into focus utterances made in the past by the Registrar of Political Parties, Mr John Tendwa in relation to Chadema’s M4C and the latter’s repeated complaints through the media that the ruling party was using the police in restraining its political activities.
What this means is that it is now going to be a free for all, with Chadema reviving their M4C rallies.
As for the rank and file of CCM members, the challenge is whether they have understood their party chairman on the importance of rebuilding the party from grassroots level.
This is extremely important, because after the party chairman’s statement the country does not expect some regional commissioners and police commanders coming up with their own rules!
But the million dollar question remains, and that is, can Mzee Mangula and his rejuvenated team match the opposition, through the boxing proverbial of a pound for pound in the political arena? Time will tell.