Makonda out as ruling CCM rings in key secretariat changes ahead of civic polls

Saturday April 06 2024

A Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) delegate holds a banner at a past party congress. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Tanzania’s ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) this week replaced its propaganda chief Paul Makonda with the party’s former treasurer Amos Makalla in a bid to bolster its campaign strategy for the local government elections in October.

The move represented a fundamental shift in CCM’s approach to winning over the electorate in upcountry regions where Makonda’s brazenly populist tactics in his five months in the position were already starting to alienate members of the establishment, particularly those working in government.

He was appointed regional commissioner (RC) for Arusha on March 31 in what appeared to be a demotion from the national to provincial political stage, with the outgoing Arusha RC John Mongella becoming the party’s deputy secretary general in the changes announced by CCM’s National Executive Committee on April 3.

Other secretariat changes endorsed at the quickly convened NEC meeting in Dar es Salaam under President Samia Suluhu Hassan as party chairperson saw Jokate Mwegelo being moved from the party’s Women’s Wing (UWT) to the Youth Wing (VIJANA) in the same capacity of secretary and Ally Hapi appointed secretary of the Parents Wing (WAZAZI).

Read: Samia orders inquiry after top CCM official quits

Those replaced were former deputy secretary general Anamringi Macha who was made Shinyanga regional commissioner and the outgoing secretaries of Vijana and WazazI, Fakii Lulandala and Gilbert Kalima, who became district commissioners for Simanjiro and Mkinga respectively in last week’s provincial leadership reshuffle announced by the presidency.


The UWT secretary position that Mwegelo held has been left vacant for the time being.

But it was the changes in the propaganda department, which also entails handling publicity affairs and acting as official party spokesperson, that best reflected the latest thinking within Tanzania’s longstanding ruling party as it forges ahead with preparations for a new elections season.

The 42-year-old Makonda has been a highly divisive figure in Tanzanian politics since he served a four-year stint as RC for Dar es Salaam under ex-president John Magufuli (2016-2020) during which he was often targeted on allegations of corruption, strongarm tactics and abuse of power.

His penchant for making incendiary remarks and rough treatment of the political opposition earned him notoriety but also helped him to remain a favourite and close confidante of Magufuli until he resigned to contest a parliamentary seat in the 2020 general election.

Among the most notable aspects of his time as Dar RC was an open war that he championed against the city’s LGBTQ community and was roundly condemned by human rights groups, ultimately leading to a United States Department of State public designation in January 2020 barring him and his wife from entering the US indefinitely.

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According to the then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the ban was based on Makonda’s “involvement in gross violations of human rights, which include the flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons” plus his “implication in oppression of the political opposition, crackdowns on freedom of expression and association, and the targeting of marginalised individuals”.

As of today, the ban is understood to still be in place.

Following the failure of his 2020 parliamentary bid, Makonda remained sidelined for the next three years and his political star appeared to have waned beyond recovery until October 2023 when he was somewhat surprisingly picked for the even more powerful CCM propaganda and publicity seat.

It was always touch and go whether he would strike a mutually comfortable working rapport with CCM’s current secretary general Emmanuel Nchimbi who was appointed in January, two months after the previous SG Daniel Chongolo resigned under the cloud of an obvious smear campaign waged against him on social media that interestingly started just weeks after Makonda’s arrival.