Return of Ujamaa as Zitto Kabwe defects to new party

Saturday March 28 2015

Outspoken Tanzania opposition Member of Parliament Zitto Kabwe has defected from Chadema to a newly formed political party seeking to revive ideology of socialism.

Unlike founding president Julius Nyerere’s Ujamaa policies, the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT) is not advocating the nationalisation of private assets.

However, it wants the reintroduction some Ujamaa principles to restore social justice, accountability and equality. The party’s manifesto calls for the use of natural resources to develop a self-reliant economy and put the economy in the hands of the people.

It is unclear how the defection of Mr Kabwe, who joined parliament in 2005 as the youngest elected MP in the history of multiparty politics will impact the main opposition party ahead of the General Election later in the year.

But his departure has, once again, highlighted the lack of unity in the opposition and may benefit the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) if more defections follow.

Mr Kabwe became vocal on the use of natural resources and his role as chairman of the Public Public Accounts Committee for more than seven years leveraged the oversight influence of Chadema in parliament.


His greatest challenge will be to make history since no politician has ever crossed to another party and retained their popularity.

Mr Kabwe told The EastAfrican that he was hopeful at least a dozen influential MPs from two leading opposition parties and CCM will join the new political vehicle.

The party plans to secure at least 10 parliamentary seats and at least 15 per cent of the total vote cast in the elections.

The party will also seek to tap into the six regions of Lake Zone, which together constitute the biggest voting bloc with a combined population exceeding two-thirds of the country’s total population.

Campaigns to introduce the party to voters across the country will start immediately after the launch, which is slated for March 29.

Invited guests to the launch include Samia Nkurumah, daughter of Ghanaian founding president Kwame Nkurumah and chairman of the Kenya's Public Accounts Committee Ababu Namwamba.

“People may not see an immediate impact,” Mr Kabwe said adding that: “The new party will change the political landscape after the October elections. Every political party wants to take power and build bridges and roads which anybody can do, but our aim is to hold the government to account in parliament.”

Mr Kabwe dismissed as baseless sentiments that the party is an outfit of former prime minister Edward Lowassa, which has been established as an alternative plan due to growing fears in his faction that CCM will extend sanctions over early campaigns until after the party’s nominations.
The new party requires all its members to publicly declare their assets and sign a leadership code.