Tanzania’s ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi party has lately witnessed defections of high-level officials to the main opposition party Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema), a development that analysts say could dent its image.
The defections started in late July, when the former prime minister, Edward Lowassa (right), decamped to Chadema after losing in the CCM primaries.
Mgana Msindai, the CCM Singida regional chairman, who was the leader of CCM regional chairmen, later also joined Chadema.
Dr John Magufuli, the Minister for Infrastructure, was nominated CCM presidential candidate from a list of 41 contestants in the primaries the defectors say were flawed.
The former CCM chairman for Shinyanga region, Khamis Mgeja, who defected to Chadema last Thursday along with his Dar es Salaam colleague John Guninita, said the nomination was flawed because the party’s procedures were not followed.
He claimed that the party chairman, President Jakaya Kikwete, went into the central committee with names of people he personally wanted, contrary to procedure.
The latest defections brought to more than 10 the number of senior CCM leaders who have crossed to Chadema so far. Others who have decamped to the opposition include the former CCM Chairman for Arusha region, Onesmo ole Nangole, the Arusha CCM ideology and publicity secretary, Isaack Joseph alias Kadogoo, and the Sumbawanga district CCM chairman, Emanuel Kilindu.
Other defectors have included five Members of Parliament in the outgoing parliament — James Lembeli of the Kahama Urban constituency, Goodluck ole Medeye (West Meru), Dr Makongoro Mahanga (Segerea), Said Nkumba (Sikonge) and Ester Bulya from CCM special seats.
Two schools of thought have emerged over the defections: That it is a thing of the Arusha-Kilimanjaro political bloc, and that it is a national trend born of a need for change since defections have been reported in far-flung Sumbawanga, Singida, Shinyanga and Dar.