No end in sight as Tanzania’s ruling party CCM goes for ‘dissenters’

Saturday July 27 2019

Tanzania's President John Magufuli delivers a speech during a political rally on July 14, 2015 in Dar es Salaam. Ruling party CCM typically supports a sitting president’s bid for a second term. PHOTO | EMILE COSTARD | AFP


What started as a letter by two former secretaries-general of Tanzania’s ruling party defending themselves against allegations of trying to block President John Magufuli from running in 2020 saw the sacking of January Makamba—the son of one of the letter’s authors—Yusuf Makamba from Cabinet last week.

Mr Makamba, 45, was the minister of environment until July 20, when he was fired for alleged poor performance.

However, his followers describe him as a political genius who helped modernise the way the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party conducts its election campaigns.

He is praised for playing a leading role in helping President Magufuli defeat rival-turned-ally former prime minister Edward Lowassa in the 2015 presidential election.

However, his rivals see him as a power-hungry politician who is behind a faction within CCM plotting to block the president from running for a second term in office.

Some allege he played a role in writing the complaint letter to the Elders Council. The other author was Abdulrahman Kinana. The former SGs submitted the letter to the Elders’ secretary, Pius Msekwa, who sent it to the party secretariat.


Now, former information minister Nape Nnauye, Mr Makamba and his father, and Mr Kinana are accused of instigating a rebellion against the party chairman. A section of party cadres is calling for their expulsion from CCM.

Livingstone Lusinde, the Mtera MP, says CCM should also release the asset-tracing report on officials accused of misappropriating party assets, saying some of the former leaders were implicated and its public release would help silence them.

Political mileage

Bashiru Ally, the current CCM secretary-general, last week on Monday assured party members that all was well and warned that the party would not tolerate those who seek to benefit politically from internal disputes.

“We will sack anybody from the party because we have the procedures, regulations, constitution and culture. I warn cadres against using the ongoing nonsense to win in the local governments' elections,” the secretary-general said in Dodoma while launching CCM business stores.

CCM rarely expels its members, but in March 2017 it removed 12 cadres, including a minister, Sophia Simba, after they were accused of supporting Mr Lowassa in the 2015 general election.

Mr Makamba is regarded as a potential successor of President Magufuli. His recent campaign for the ban of plastic bags, which was widely praised as successful due to his public education crusade, was seen as an attempt to gain political mileage.

He was one of the top five CCM ticket contenders in 2015. However, he has been accused of plotting to challenge the president in 2020.

The other top 2015 CCM nomination rankings were former minister Benard Membe and President Magufuli, who won the nomination.

Mr Makamba was then given the powerful role of overseeing CCM’s campaign strategy dubbed “IT Masaki,” which attracted attention from both the opposition and the ruling party, and is credited with attracting young voters who have traditionally voted for the opposition.