Magufuli downplayed Nyalandu’s defection, saying “thieves are taking off” from the ruling party.
The defection of former Tanzanian Cabinet minister Lazaro Nyalandu from the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi has signalled a turbulent season of intense political activity in the region as parties seek fresh terms.
Reports of rebellion in CCM as a result of reforms to allow President John Magufuli to have full control of the party could see more defections. Bernard Membe, former foreign affairs minister, who contested the CCM presidential ticket in 2015 but lost to President Magufuli, warned that the defection of former natural resources and Tourism minister Mr Nyalandu signalled rebellion in the party.
The opposition party, Chadema, the beneficiary of Mr Nyalandu’s defection, said the move complements the ongoing rebranding of the opposition party as it strengthen its structures to face off with CCM.
In Kenya, the opposition coalition — National Super Alliance — is back on the drawing board as it begins a crusade for constitutional reforms to guarantee credible elections in future.
The coalition suffered defections after the August 8 elections, even though most of the defectors were poll losers save for Taita Taveta Governor Grandson Samboja, who denounced the Wiper Democratic Movement to support President Uhuru Kenyatta in the repeat presidential polls.
Nasa, a coalition of four main parties — Orange Democratic Movement, Ford Kenya, Amani National Congress and the Wiper Democratic Party — has launched campaigns for the establishment of a People’s Assembly and economic boycott, which it intends to push for over the next one year as a vehicle to force a review of the Constitution.
In Uganda, opposition party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) is in the process of identifying new leaders, especially, the presidential candidate who will take on President Yoweri Museveni in the next election should Ugandans remove the presidential age limit in the Constitution.
In preparation for the next polls, campaigns have begun in FDC on who should take over from Kizza Besigye, who has been the main contender against President Museveni in past elections.
Mugisha Muntu and Patrick Oboi Amuria are among the five contestants who are eyeing the coveted seat, with tension mounting in the party on how to manage the transition without a falling out.
President Magufuli downplayed Mr Nyalandu’s defection, saying “thieves are taking off” from the ruling party.
In March, President Magufuli launched a raft of structural changes within the party after taking over from his predecessor, former president Jakaya Kikwete as the chairman.
During his time as natural resources and Tourism minister, Mr Nyalandu was accused by the opposition of corruption and illegal export of live wild animals.
Insiders said President Magufuli was pushing for the prosecution of Mr Nyalandu over the alleged abuse of office, which could have triggered the defection.