THE recent appointment of Dr Bashiru Ally, to the top post of Secretary-General of the ruling party (CCM); was the most dominant news circulating in the mass media during the last week. Dr Bashiru Ally, a Political Science lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, was elevated to that position on 31st May, 2018.
His landing of this job appears to have raised considerable interest among members of the public, as was evidenced by the numerous comments made by a cross-section of the people, and given extensive coverage in the print media.
Examples include the following:- From the DAILY NEWS: “Political commentators and CCM stalwarts yesterday welcomed the appointment (read election) of Dr Bashiru Ally as the ruling party Secretary- General, describing it as a strategy to rejuvenate the party and embrace new ideas . . . some analysts and CCM party members, including members of Parliament, said yesterday that CCM seems to be capitalizing on the political professionalismand ideas of Dr Bashiru, for the betterment of the party”.
From the UHURU: “Watu mbali mbali wameendelea kutoa maoni yao kufuatia kuteuliwa kwa Mhadhiri wa Chuo Kikuu cha Dar es Salaam Dr Bashiru, kuwa Katibu Mkuu wa Chama cha Mapinduzi. . Dr Benson Bana, ambaye ni Mhadhiri wa Chuo Kikuu cha Dar es Salaam, alisema CCM imelambe dume. Kuondoka kwa Kinana na ujio wa Dr Bashiru ni mapinduzi makubwa ya kisiasa”.
Naye Mwenyekiti wa Chama cha TLP Taifa Augustine Mrema, alisema CCM chini ya uongozi wa Dr. Magufuli, wamedhamiria kukisuka upya Chama hicho kwa kukiweka katika mfumo wa siasa za kisayansi”.
But for me personally, the most captivating comment came from mzee Yusuf Makamba (that marvelous, good humoured mzee, who previously also held the post of CCM Secretary- General). He said the following:-
“When Pius Msekwa, (who was then Executive Secretary-General of TANU) was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam, people said that ‘TANU has gone to the Hill’. With the appointment of Dr Bashiru, we can now rightly say that ‘the Hill has come to CCM”.
I was one of the people who were contacted by a section of the media, seeking my personal comments regarding Dr Bashiru’s appointment as CCM Secretary- General.
In particular, my interviewer disclosed that a number of people had expressed the view that Dr Bashiru “lacks practical experience (uzoefu) in politics, and that this will be an impediment to his effectiveness as CCM Secretary-General”.
The interviewer wanted my comments regarding that particular aspect. My shorthand reply was that Dr Bashiru will have no such problem at all, for two cogent reasons. One, he is a political scientist, and therefore has the intellectual capacity to learn and adjust very quickly in his new job.
Two, he is not entering an ‘empty house’ which would make it necessary for him to actually start from scratch, in terms of providing everything that is necessary for the proper for its proper functioning. On the contrary, he has joined a well-established, and well-structured organization, which is functioning properly.
Thus, except for the shortcomings which he listed the in his celebrated probe report. (‘celebrated‘ simply because that is apparently what earned him the new job) This article attempts to put Dr Bashiru’s appointment in proper perspective, particularly in response to the misconceived argument that “he lacks the political experience required for that job”.
Reward for a job well-done? Dr Bashiru’s appointment could indeed be regarded, if you like, as a reward for a job well done, for it is true that he has been appointed to that position primarily in order for him to implement the recommendations of the probe committee, of which he was the Chairman.
However, this particular procedure has an interesting history behind it, which is worth putting on record, for it is, in fact, not the first time that this has happened. Here is the earlier story in relation to this matter:-
(1) Chama cha Mapinduzi had fared very badly in the 2010 general elections. Thus, in an effort to find a cure for this political ailment, Magufuli’s predecessor, CCM Chairman Jakaya Kikwete, appointed a commission, which was mandated to study and advise him on the best measures which should be taken, in order to improve the public image and acceptability of Chama cha Mapinduzi.
That Commission was chaired by Wilson Mkama. It produced an excellent report, whose findings were extensively used in reforming (or rebranding) the party, in a mammoth exercise which became known as “kujivua gamba”.
Soon thereafter, Wilson Mkama was appointed CCM Secretary-General, obviously in recognition of the commendable work he had done as chairman of the said commission.
(2) Further down the line, going back to 1976/7, a commission had been appointed and mandated to work on the details of a proposed merger between TANU and the Afro-Shirazi Party. The mandate included making recommendations for the proposed new party’s Constitution.
Pius Msekwa was appointed Secretary to this commission, which eventually produced an excellent report, that resulted in the formation of Chama cha Mapinduzion 5th February, 1977. Soon thereafter, Pius Msekwa was appointed Executive Secretary–General of the new party.
Some people may regard such appointments only as a reward for a job well done; but, more importantly, it should be seen as a matter of giving direct responsibility for implementing the duly approved recommendations, to those who actually produced the relevant recommendations.
The argument that Dr. Bashiru ‘lacks experience’ is totally misconceived. “Kazi imepata mtu” is the colloquial expression in Kiswahili, which is often used to express approval when the right person is appointed to a given job.
This expression also properly applies to Dr Bashiru’s appointment as CCM Secretary- General. He is indeed the right person for the job, for he has all the necessary basic qualifications required for that particular job. In other words, “kazi imepata mtu.”
In the first place, Dr Bashiru is an experienced teacher of an academic discipline known as ‘political science’. This means that he first studied politics a student, and upon graduation(obviously because of his brilliant performance), he was picked to stay on at the University and teach politics to other students.
University teaching is normally complemented by research assignments, plus active participation in certain selected activities connected therewith. This means that because of his vast experience in teaching politics, Dr Bashiru is well grounded in the affairs of politics. He will therefore settle comfortably in his new job quite quickly. He has joined a wellstructured organization.
But there are other factors which will help Dr Bashiru to settle quickly and comfortably in his new job, among them is the fact that Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) is an organisation which is well-structured, for it has well-established, and fully functioning, specified party organs at every level, including the national level.
These party organs were specifically designed to take responsibility for the proper performance of the party’s core functions, and the Constitution clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of each of these organs; and also defines the roles of the top leaders (Wakuu wa Chama) at each relevant level.
Hence, all that any newSecretary-General, (such as Dr. Bashiru) has to do, is to just take his allotted seat in the party organs at the national level, and proceed with the journey to the party’s intended destination, namely winning the next scheduled elections.
At the national level, the CCM Constitution provides as follows:- “Chama cha Mapinduzi kitakuwa na wakuu wafuatao: (a) Mwenyekiti wa CCM Taifa; (b) Makamu wawili wa Mwenyekiti wa CCM; (c) Katibu Mkuu wa CCM.
This section clearly identifies the Secretary- General’s position in the hierarchy of CCM leaders at the national level. Another section of the CCM Constitution helpfully defines his duties and responsibilities as follows: Katibu Mkuu atakuwa ndiye mtendaji Mkuu wa CCM, na atafanya kazi zake chini ya uongozi wa Halmashauri Kuu ya Taifa . . .
Kazi na majukumu ya Katibu Mkuu wa CCM yatakuwa ni: (a) kuratibu kazi za Chama cha Mapinduzi. (b)Kusimamia kazi za utawala na uendeshaji katika Chama. (c ) Kufuatilia na kuratibu masuala ya usalama na maadili katika Chama. (d) Kusimamia udhibiti wa Fedha na mali za Chama”.
Thus, in view misconceived of these clear guidelines, Dr Bashiru cannot possibly fail to carry out the tasks assigned to him, for the lame and argument that “he has no experience”!
Moreover, the party structure provides for a clear ‘division of responsibilities’ between the ‘elected representatives, who are given the responsibility for carrying out the ‘political work’ of the party; and the administrative cadres (Watendaji), whose primary responsibility is to carry out the administrative functions of the party. The structure of Chama cha Mapinduzi.
The CCM Constitution was carefully crafted, in order to provide for “participatory leadership” (Uongozi wa pamoja), as opposed to ‘individual leadership’ provided individually by designated leaders.
For example, responsibility for ‘political work’ at the national level, is vested in the Central Committee, by a section of the Constitution which reads as follows under ‘Kazi za Kamati Kuu::- (1) Kutoa uongozi wa siasa katika nchi; (2) Kusimamia utekelezaji wa kazi za kila siku za CCM; (3) Kueneza itikadi na siasa za CCM; (4)Kusimamia kampeni za uchaguzi; .
These functions are what constitute the party’s “political work”. And members of the Central Committee are normally selected on the basis of their ability to carry out these functions. In view of this ‘division of responsibilities’ the presumed ‘lack of experience in politics’ which is being raised against Dr Bashiru, becomes totally irrelevant and of no real consequence.
This is because, firstly, the Secretary-General does not act alone, but must always act as part of the leadership organ to which he belongs; and secondly, because the Secretary-General’s duties and responsibilities are very clearly defined in the party Constitution, as we have seen above.
Fortunately, Dr Bashiru himself demonstrated his full awareness of these constitutional requirements when, on taking over his new office in Dares Salaam, he declared that he “would focus more on strategizing, instead of engaging directly in platform politics”.
Remembering the sayings of Shakespeare. William Shakespeare, that famous English dramatist, wrote the following lines in Julius Caesar, Act 1V, scene 3:- “There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune . . .”
I am tempted to believe that his appointment to the post of CCM Secretary-General, was a ‘tide’ in the affairs of Dr Bashiru, which he has correctly taken ‘at the floods’, and is therefore bound to lead him and the ruling party CCM, ‘on to fortune’.