WE commence this article by wishing all our readers a merry Christmas, and a happy and prosperous new year 2017. Currently, the majority of the Tanzania public is focused mainly on discussing the recent sweeping but positive organisational changes which were made by the CCM National Executive Committee, at its recent meeting held on 13th December, 2016.
This article is therefore intended to provide some useful background information regarding that whole matter, which may hopefully assist in providing a better understanding of the significance of these changes which, in my humble opinion, were both necessary, and timely.
In fact, such timely and positive Organisational changes are always necessary, and indeed inevitable, for any decent Organisation which is functioning properly; and Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), is one such decent Organisation; and that is why it has been, from time to time over many years, making substantially similar changes; the latest being the drastic changes which were made at the level of the National Executive Committee, in April, 2011.
The said changes were described in Kiswahili as “kujivua Gamba” (shedding the skin), as some snakes normally do. However in relation to the recent ‘surgical’ changes which were made by the first meeting of the CCM National Executive Committee held under the Chairmanship of the new CCM Chairman, President John Magufuli, I wish to make the point that these were most welcome changes, whose cumulative effect is to correct some glaring mistakes which were made by CCM at various stages in the past, always in the name of “Kuimarisha muundo wa Chama” (strengthening the Party structure).
As will be shown in the paragraphs which follow below, it all started with the adoption of the CCM Guidelines of 1981.
The CCM Guidelines of 1981 It must be acknowledged that this corrective action was indeed necessary and timely, and that it was taken strictly in accordance with the CCM doctrine of ‘selfcriticism and self-correction’; which is rendered in Kiswahili as “ Umuhimu wa kujikosoa na kukosoana”, and is to be found in the CCM Guidelines of 1981, (titled in Kiswahili as ‘Mwongozo wa CCM wa 1981’).
Paragraphs 58 to 60 of that ‘Mwongozo’ provide separately as follows: “Kuna mambo kadhaa ambayo ni muhimu kuyazingatia. La kwanza linahusu suala la kukosoa, kujikosoa, na kukosoana, kama njia ya kukijenga na kukiimarisha Chama na wanachama wake . . . Chama chenyewe, katika vikao vyake vya ngazi mbali mbali, inabidi kiwe na utaratibu wa kujikosoa; na maana halisi ya Kujikosoa kama Chama, ni kuwa na utaratibu wa mara kwa mara kurudia kuyaangalia maamuzi ya nyuma, na ikionekana kuwa kuna makosa yalifanyika, basi ni muhimu kuchukua hatua za kuyarekebisha”.
The actions taken by the CCM National Executive Committee at its meeting held on December 13th were, basically, an exercise in self-criticism and self-correction, as required by the 1981 Mwongozo paragraphs quoted above.
The previous structure was unsuitable In view of the vastly changed political circumstances resulting from the re-introduction of multi-party politics, the previous CCM organisational structure had become outdated and largely unsuitable, primarily because it was designed in circumstances which were totally different from those of the current period. And that was precisely the root cause of its unsuitability for operating in the present environment.
This is because the previous structure was crafted during the period of the One-Party political system, at a time when the party was operating under the slogan of “Chama kushika Hatamu”. Significantly, this slogan was also recognised, and actually sanctioned, by the country’s Constitution, which included a provision which said that “All political activities (in the country) shall be conducted by, or under the auspices, of the Party”.
Hence, under the inevitable influence of those circumstances, the desire to expand the membership of the party organs, and to increase the frequency of its meetings, becomes readily understandable.
It would appear that the decision makers at that time were focusing on two important matters, namely : (a) The need to involve the largest possible number of party members in formal party meetings at all levels.
It is in order to achieve this objective that the membership sizes of all the relevant organs were greatly expanded at all levels. (b) The (strange) desire to achieve uniformity, or perhaps similarity, between the structure of the Party and those of the Government organs, and in particular, between the Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and its Central Committee (CC); and those of the National Assembly and the Cabinet of Ministers.
Thus, because Ministers are appointed from among the Members of the National Assembly, then similarly, members of the Central Committee must be appointed from among the Members of the National Executive Committee, but this provision was expanded to include the Regional Party Secretaries, who must also be appointed from among the members of NEC.
Hence, in order to create a large enough pool of NEC members from whom all these appointees were to be selected, its membership size was enlarged by the addition of ninety other members. But in addition, there were various other measures which were also taken in order to achieve similarity between the organs of State and those of the Party.
The most prominent among these other measures, was the creation of the Party Secretariat, which was designed to be the equivalent of the Cabinet Secretariat. The cost of servicing these increased Party organs, and the expanded meetings (in terms of increased numbers of members, and increased frequencies of meetings) was, apparently, given no consideration at all.
This organisational structure of the Party which was crafted at the time of the CCM Guidelines, continued to function during the entire post- CCM Guidelines period, and was re-enforced by the 2011 changes which were made at the national level (code named “kujivua gamba”), which drastically raised the number of members of the National Executive Committee to a staggering 388 members, with one member required to be elected from each and every administrative District in the country.
The difficulties created by the 2011 changes The said changes were of course made in absolute good faith. For example, In relation to the 2011 expansion of the membership of the National Executive Committee, it was cogently argued that the national leadership of the party, that is to say, the members of the National Executive Committee, were too far removed from the grassroots, that is to say, the ordinary members of the Party, thus making the desirable and absolutely essential day to day contacts and interaction between them very difficult, or even impossible. Hence, it was argued that having such members elected at the District level would be a good solution to this problem, for two reasons.
One was the consideration that this arrangement would bring the national party leaders much closer to the ordinary party members; and the other was that it would also make it possible for a much larger number of ordinary Party members to participate in the decision-making processes of the party at the national level, through their membership of NEC. It may be remembered that this was one of the main objectives of the 1981 CCM Guidelines, which was stated under the heading “Kuimarisha muundo wa Chama”.
However, those good intentions notwithstanding, this huge increase in the number of members of NEC produced some totally unintended results, including the fact that a substantial number of these ‘District members’ of the National Executive Committee, instead of doing what they were expected to do, they started engaging themselves in campaigning for membership of Parliament in constituents which were conveniently situated in their respective Districts, thus creating inevitable conflicts with the incumbent MPs.
But, in addition, there were also other problems. For example, there was the question of the high costs involved in servicing the meetings of the greatly expanded National Executive Committee, which was required by the CCM Constitution to hold a regular meeting “at least once in every four months”. Furthermore, it is also claimed that because of the large number of its members, it had become very difficult to maintain secrecy of its proceedings.
Appreciating the significance of the latest changes The above background information is intended to enable the readers of this article to appreciate the huge significance of the recent bold organizational changes which have been introduced by the CCM National Executive Committee.
They are bold because they have taken due cognizance of the current prevailing political circumstances, in the sense that the CCM decision makers concerned have realized that their Party was operating on the basis of a structure which was designed for a different time period, and which is totally unsuitable for operating under the present political landscape and circumstances.
The CCM decision makers have also realized that the present role of their party has also changed significantly, from that in which “All political activities were being conducted by, or under, the auspices of the party”,(the One-Party system), to a totally different role in which a political party’s sole function is, as provided for in the Political Parties Act: “to participate in elections for the purpose of winning them and forming the Government of the United republic, and of the Local Authorities in the rural Districts and the Urban Areas”.
It appears evident that this function does not require a large-size National Executive Committee of 388 members, meeting at least once in every four months of the year! Neither does it require the holding of such frequent meetings of the Party organs at the lower levels.
Kudos to the CCM decision makers Special Kudos must go to those members of the National Executive Committee who are elected from the Districts, and those others whose positions have been abolished, for their bold action in agreeing to abolish their positions. Their action was indeed bold and selfless, for what they did in fact, was that they, knowingly and willingly, dismissed themselves from NEC, by consenting to the abolition of their respective NEC positions, and thus effectively creating ‘unemployment’ for themselves!
This can be correctly regarded a kind of ‘self-destruction’. Hence, their willingness to do so should be appreciated and applauded, as it was a clear manifestation of their selflessness. Special Kudos also to the CCM Chairman, President John Magufuli, for his bold determination to fulfill his election promises.
There must be many people who still remember his humorous campaign statement (which he made in the course of his campaign speech in Kigoma on 16th September, 2015), when he said (obviously with a light touch), that ‘M4C’ stands for “Magufuli for change”.
Many others will also remember that during his election campaign, President Magufuli was repeatedly, and emphatically, promising to bring ‘real change’ to the country’s governance system, (which he described in Kiswahili as “Mabadiliko yenye Tija”.
And, true to his promises, he has already proved beyond reasonable doubt, that he can walk the talk. For within only six months in office since his election as National Chairman of Chama cha Mapinduzi, Chairman John Magufuli, has quickly demonstrated his abundant leadership skills, by introducing the ‘Tsunami type’ of organizational changes in the Party.