Tanzania's ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) has named Dr Ally Kakurwa Bashiru as its new secretary-general.
The CCM’s National Executive Council (NEC) endorsed Dr Bashiru to replace Mr Abdulrahman Kinana, who resigned from the party last weekend ahead of the local government elections next year.
The presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in 2020.
The appointment of Dr Bashiru, a self-declared socialist, marks CCM's break with its tradition where the occupants of the secretary-general's office since 1977 were party insiders. Dr Bashiru will chair the five-member secretariat with four of them coming from outside the party. Only the deputy secretary-general, Mr Rodrick Mpogolo, is a CCM insider.
Dr Bashiru’s appointment is considered a milestone in President John Magufuli’s reform agenda, which has partly entailed installing people loyal to him in key public institutions and party organs since he was elected in October 2015.
President Magufuli has tasked scholars to lead critical state institutions, but the appointment of Dr Bashiru who chaired the CCM assets tracing committee, was being seen as aimed at ensuring the party uses its massive resources to become financially independent.
Until 2015, CCM collected over $349,251 a year from members' contributions, but its monthly budget was over $436,564 a month, making it heavily dependent on donations from business people.
NEC agreed that Dr Bashiru’s audit should be extended to Zanzibar and all the recommendations the committee made be implement. The committee report was handed to the party chairman last week.
“We have given you this mandate during the difficult time. I have discussed this with CCM’s vice-chairman for Zanzibar and President of Zanzibar [Dr Mohammed Shein] that you should extend the good work to Zanzibar,” President Magufuli said.
The CCM secretary general's traditional tasks have been to help the party raise funds for its operation and ensure that it wins elections. However, Dr Bashiru’s more daunting task will be to unite factions likely to challenge President Magufuli’s bid for the party's nomination as its flag bearer for the second and final term in 2020.
Until his appointment, Dr Bashiru was a lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam's Department of Political Science and Public Administration. He was ranked among the new cadre academics, pushing for the resurrection of radical and people-driven pan-Africanism.
Dr Bashiru’s appointment has been likened, in some quarters, to that of Mr Wilson Mukama, who served as the CCM secretary-general between 2011 and 2012 and was primarily seen as a theorist who failed to help the party deal with modern challenges. Others, however, say Dr Bashiru represents new hope for the party.