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New CC: Since `boys will be boys,` the spirit of aggression will still prevail in 2015

17th February 2013
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 A certain amount of forcing could be noticed in some leading newspapers presenting the new CCM central committee line up, saying party chairnan and Union president Jakaya Kikwete says this is a 'winning line up.' Winning in that context would imply preparations for 2015, whereas this is the one thing that the president energetically steered clear from embodying in his nominations for the central committee. It is also evident that the voting in NEC would not be blind, as there is plenty of canvassing that goes on in a structured manner, to assist his work.

Introducing his list and somewhat providing a blanket explanation for the specific nominations, the president pointed at their "undisputed professionalism and experience," which is slightly odd for the central committee.

It made the issue take an air of someone selecting the cabinet of ministers, where there is scarcely any doubt that "undisputed professionalism and experience" are vital qualifications for anyone to feature in the list. When it comes to the central committee there are vastly different considerations as the work to be done is entirely different, in effect.

There was blanket attention and making of hay out of each step that is being heard in higher political echelons, first in reconstituting parliamentary committees and now in the more serious business of drawing up the party central committee.

The point being doggedly pursued is who gains or loses in the run to 2015 on the basis of extending of influence or losing it in the wake of various initiatives, including results of NEC polls last year, and the more recent steps. This focus knows little of the specific complexitty and 'modus operandi' of how the state and CCM operate.

One thing that the president pointed out in unveiling the new central committee helps to grasp some of the problems involved in figuring out strategies of whom to select into the central committee, though rather distantly.

He said that nomination to the central committee wasn't about "enriching your CVs but making sure that the party remains strong," which evidently begs questions. In what manner is the idea that one enriches the CV by membership of the central committee at odds with helping the party to remain strong? If not, what distinction could thus exist?

To illustrate the problem, enriching one's CV can be said to constitute a situation of "business as usual," that what one is doing as part of some particular political body, for instance Parliament, is consonant with being CC member. As a matter of fact that it true for the National Executive Committee (NEC) which is often an alter ego of parliamentary work, the party parliament as it were. There is less of a distinctively different ethic when one becomes NEC member as different from his or her sitting in Parliament; this failure to distinguishing the two led to problems.

Hence the proper background to nominating the current central committee and to an extent the secretariat that emerged after the NEC elections is the sort of issues that were being considered by the central committee up to that point. A major item now rather forgotten was a suggestion, perhaps a firm decision to that effect, that MPs should no longer be members of NEC.

The proposed change seemed to have arisen from regional party chairmen and secretaries, along with the secretariat, but leaving out in the cold leagues of MPs seeking to 'enrich their CVs' by NEC polls. One reason why this step was deemed necessary was 'the fight against corruption' during the parliamentary stewardship of senior minister Samuel Sitta, who has a few key allies in the secretariat like Nape Nnauye.

At some points NEC meetings started looking like parliamentary debates without the usual decorum or specific motion at hand, giving the president a distinctively uncomfortable environment. The question is that Parliament has firmer rules of procedure as it is based on an ethic of confrontation and voting, while NEC needs moral solidarity, togetherness.

Removing MPs from the NEC would thus ensure that the party sentiment that is cultivated in the grassroots and which is visible in all levels of the secretariat is maintained in NEC, instead of being misused by MPs.

They seek membership in NEC to 'enrich their CVs' in order to make them even stronger in seeking a new mandate in the next general elections, and often at the expense of cohesion and a sense of purpose in the party. When the leagues of anti-corruption fighters descend on the government, is that not a sure way of shoving voters to opposition parties?

On account of the general lethargy in the anti-graft campaign following the shame about Richmond/Dowans, refusing to buy the system and seeing it purchased by some clever Americans, the heat in NEC diminished. This facilitated a peaceful environment and a rescinding of the axe on MPs sitting in NEC, now that it was clear they would 'behave.' Meetings are no longer as disruptive as they were earlier.

Still this problem did not go unnoticed in relation to the central committee, and it seemed at some point that even former Heads of State were starting to be sort of embedded in the influence peddling related to the 'war against corruption.' This is what led to the generalized resignation of central committee membership and a new line up coming up before the general elections in 2010, where the notable departure in the new line up was Rostam Aziz, a major figure of the 'mtandao' that brought JK to the nomination in 2005. Some ex-premiers were also left out, etc.

Looking at the new central committee line up one gets the feeling that the older problem of the 'war against corruption' has been replaced by the war for the CCM nomination in 2015, which is seemingly anathema in central committee work at the moment.

It is something to kept well in the background of its operations, so that it focuses on the issues at hand, how to sort out challenges that confront the state on each passing day, like the disturbances in Mtwara, 'slaughter wars' in Geita, etc. Having two mayors (ex-Dar mayor Adam Kimbisa and Jerry Slaa) also shows how the city is important in itself; two former secretaries general are ex-Dar executives.

Thus it was clear that the president was as forthright as he could possibly be when he said that the issue here is not about CVs but helping the party to remain united. All ambitious people, directly noted for their 2015 meditations and prerogatives, were sidelined, and a breadth of individuals whose loyalty and commitment (not professionalism or experience) are definitely not at issue, were picked from the cabinet. There is no 'winning line up' in this context because the work of central committee members is to strike the tone in national security and cohesion, period.

In that case there is no need to read anything in relation to 2015 in terms of who entered into the central committee and who did not, but merely examining the way the separation of powers has been conducted. Even where cabinet ministers sit as central committee members they do so as loyal cadres and trusted advisers to the president, not powerful individuals who obtain a majority of votes as in electing NEC or parliamentary candidates. The question is whether they will find the right answers to pernicious problems, and if they will remain united in challenges ahead.

At the same time it must be admitted that the president may distantly allow himself the luxury of design even on 2015 in the CC nomination. It is a matter of backing off or cutting into the frontrunners, depending on need. The tide could just change.

In that case there is a plausible element in trying to read the nominations to the central committee in terms of the run for nomination in 2015, not in how there is real positioning of repositioning but potential to such effect.

If it is noticed that an opportunity exists to disrupt some of the divisive campaigning around this or that prospective candidates, and that person is not a member of the central committee, it is slightly easier to project a different individual, by methodical innovation. But definitely that isn't on the drawing board, the real issue being how to meet current challenges and find the right consensus in society, about constitution, gas, union....

So the central committee retains its character as a sort of 'presidential advisory commission' in the sense that it is the last resort of the presidency in making policy decisions, as when he has consesus in the central committee he is likely to carry the country with him, not if it is divided.

All other levers of state are by nature open or dysfunctional, for instance NEC is too tied up with Parliament despite a measure of calm at present, while the cabinet is really a 'federal' environment where each members is separately and distinctively accountable to Parliament on what happens in the ministry. Cohesion can't quite be assured in such situations, in which case the cabinet operates on a principle of legality and most often, collective responsibility, while solidarity, unified sentiment are tied to the central committee.

The strong point about the central committee is thus its unitary sense of purpose as opposed to the more fractious character of other vital organs of representation and legitimation of state action. Still this is also its weakness in an electoral sense of the term, as its work is strictly consensual, and does not permit or warrant private or individual initiatives the way this is replete in Parliament for instance.

NEC is in a sense more restrained in that context, but since 'boys will be boys,' one can't take out the spirit of aggression from a competitively elected body, full of fighters from parliamentary ranks, etc. CCM is breathing more easily as the 'war against graft' has been rescinded, but it is altogether different cultivating a collective ethos again.

SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY