Maalim Seif, followers join ACT-Wazalendo

19Mar 2019
Henry Mwangonde
DAR ES SALAAM
The Guardian
Maalim Seif, followers join ACT-Wazalendo

VETERAN Civic United Front (CUF) Sectary General Self Sharif Hamad yesterday joined the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo) in a dramatic turn of events a few hours after the High Court in Dar es Salaam ruled that Prof Ibrahim Lipumba is legitimately in office as party national-

Embattled Civic United Front deputy secretary general Nassor Mazrui (in specs) and presumed members and supporter leave the High Court in Dar es Salaam visibly dejected yesterday after losing a case in which they were seeking the court’s intervention in connection with the Registrar of Political Parties’ recognition of Prof Ibrahim Lipumba as national chairman of the beleaguered opposition party. Photo: Selemani Mpochi

chairman.

In the judgment issued by Judge Benhajj Masoud the court said Seif had no legal mandate to challenge a decision by the Registrar of Political Parties to recognize Lipumba.

The judge agreed with the objection submitted in the case by the Attorney General on behalf of the registrar.

The AG questioned the legal basis for Seif challenging Prof Lipumba’s chairmanship while he lacked the backing of the party’s board of trustees.

According to the state, only the board of trustees could sue or be sued on behalf of the party.

Yesterday’s ruling forestalled the hearing of the main case in which Seif was challenged Prof Lipumba’s headship of the second largest opposition party in the country

The two leaders have led factions within the party fighting for control for most of the last two years. The feuding factions have had several counter suits filed against each other.

But Judge Masoud’s ruling yesterday was a significant setback for the Seif faction, with Prof Lipumba now c0nfirmed in the pole decision making position in the party.

Prof Lipumba was re-elected chairman last week in an extra-ordinary meeting after which he dislodged Seif.

“After going through submissions by all sides and considering previous similar cases, I agree with the AG that the registrar was right in his decision to recognize Prof Lipumba as CUF national chairman because he did so due to powers vested in his office,” he said.

In a quick turn of events, later in the day the former CUF Secretary General accompanied by various former CUF leaders announced they were joining ACT-Wazalendo, saying the battle for democracy continues.

“I have decided to inform you that today, the High Court in Dar es Salaam has made a ruling in support of the Registrar of Political Parties to reinstate Prof Lipumba as CUF national chairman. As we have stated earlier, this is a continuation of the ill-planned strategies by the State to weaken CUF and democracy in the country,” Seif said at a packed press conference in the city yesterday.

The 2015 CUF Zanzibar presidential candidate said he was asking all his followers and democracy lovers to follow him in his new platform, insisting that justice will one day prevail.

CUF has been in a state of leadership crisis since August 2016 when Lipumba announced that he wanted to be reinstated as party chairman.

He had abandoned that position voluntarily a year earlier in protest against the opposition coalition group UKAWA’s nomination of ex-prime minister and former ruling CCM party heavyweight Edward Lowassa as its joint presidential candidate for the October general election.

Although Lipumba said he had a right to withdraw his resignation letter, a section of CUF leadership led by the secretary general rejected this demand and went on to arrange a special party meeting to elect a new chairman in September 2016.

The meeting ended prematurely after Lipumba and his followers thronged the venue, claiming he was the legitimate chairman.

Party leaders later held an emergency meeting under Hamad in Zanzibar where it was announced that the party membership of Lipumba and 10 others had been suspended indefinitely for causing disruption in the earlier meeting.

Lipumba then filed a petition calling on the Registrar of Political Parties to intervene in the matter, and registrar Francis Mutungi wrote to Hamad asking for his response as party secretary general to Lipumba’s claims of unfair treatment.

Mutungi’s office later issued a statement recognizing Lipumba as chairman, a move that did not go down well with the CUF supreme council allied with Seif, which accused the registrar of deliberately fuelling the leadership crisis within the party.

Ever since, Lipumba and his supporters established their base at the party’s head offices in Buguruni suburb of Dar es Salaam, while Seif and his supporters remained in the  CUF headquarters in Zanzibar as divisions in the party’s regional and district branches continued to widen.