THE hot news this time around has been the appointment of a new Secretary-General of the ruling party - an erstwhile lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, Dr Bashiru Alli.
In the eyes of most observers, it would appear he is on a debut to reorganise the party to face the challenges both of a grass-root political party and a party in competitive politics within the realm of a multiparty state.
But what everybody, who is oblivious of political parties is waiting to hear is whether this party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Party of the Revolution) one of the oldest in Africa is destined for a rebirth of its erstwhile well known ideology and grass-root outreach.
For the essence of a political party anywhere is ideology. In a competitive multiparty rule as existing in this country today, it is most urgent for a political party especially the ruling party to have its eyes and ears on the ground, swimming with the people as fish does in the Sea.
For those belonging to the old generation in this country, the old CCM chaired by founder President Dr Julius Nyerere was always most active with its central and executive committees making periodical reviews on the social-economic landscape existing in the country, and coming up with “wake-up” calls for its rank and file and the people generally.
During that time, we were able to see and read the party documents titled “party guidelines” on the social-economic and political direction of the country.
Those around in the old good days of the leadership of the founder President of this country and first Chairman of the ruling party here, remember how the leaders and the led both in government and the ruling party, used to address each other in humility and simplicity consistent with the socialist ideology of the party.
Everyone, in leadership position or as ordinary citizen was addressed as “Ndugu” which Kiswahili word translates for “brother or sister.”
Leaders in the old good days also chose to dress simply - appropriate to the ordinary people they lead – simple peasants in the countryside and workers in urban areas and not western style suits.
As noted before, the ruling party was issuing from time to time, policy directives in the political and economic sphere.
Was yesterday to be confused to today and were one to imagine the old good days with what is happening today, already the party should be waving a guideline document dubbed: ‘HAPA KAZI TU’ – (Wanted: Hard work here) promoting the political motto of the current Party Chairman, Ndugu Magufuli.
We will come back to this point later. The question one can ask today is: is the ruling party, CCM, oblivious of the concrete situation on the ground today? Has it any ideology normally attributed to political parties anywhere? So what is the difference in terms of message, and focus by the ruling party and the Opposition in place?
What’s the focus of the ruling party in the context of the social-economic landscape of this country in terms of the widening gap between the few filthily rich and the staggering poor majority in this country?
Which party in the competitive political landscape has a focus on this very obvious phenomenon in the country today - the gap between the haves and have-nots?
Which party takes the plight of the poor of this country seriously as a permanent agenda? Let us start with the ruling party, CCM. This party was founded on a firm ideology, namely Socialism and Self-reliance.
It was also imbued with this motto from the word go: “the independence of this country is meaningless without the total liberation of Africa”. It has, therefore, a rich history in its contribution to the liberation struggle in Africa against minority rule and apartheid.
The free States in Southern Africa today must have the name of this party, CCM, in their roll call of honour. But Tanzanians also, especially those of the old generation see in this party a country in safe hands.
But does this party, CCM, read correctly the concrete situation on the ground today? Even after its government was obliged to subscribe to International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) privatisation agenda about five decades ago, has the party remained faithful to its actual owners, the peasants and workers of this country?
Those watching the political landscape in this country may have noted that the major political parties in this country, the ruling party and one from the opposition have difference in the crowds they pull.
But they must have also noted that the crowds that converge for one political party in the Opposition are mainly of youths mostly under 35 years old; the majority being the youngest. What is it that youths of this country are attracted to this party in the Opposition?
One may suspect it must be one of the opposition parties’ confrontational stance: such as ‘mpaka kieleweke’ (a warlike slogan to come to the root of a given matter!]
This slogan looks attractive especially to young people seen in the crowds this party is able to pull. Has there been anything substantive on alternative social-economic programmes?
The Opposition seems to have focused on “ufisadi” - alleged thievery by those in public office! And this about all! What amuses me is that whereas its leadership dons fatigues – the same attire Fidel Castro or Che Guevara would be comfortable with, one of these political parties in the Opposition, the other day chose to use helicopters to visit the people across the country!
But the people this party wanted to impress can hardly afford owning bicycles, can they? I leave it to your fertile imagination to decode what ideology this party subscribes to!
But then what is the concrete situation on the ground in this country today? In the recent past, there had been raging battles between peasants and herdsmen.
For the first time since independence, bows and arrows, which have not been taken seriously before, were being deployed by our people in the rural areas – the consequence of free for all grab of land in the rural areas as has been seen in the intervening years.
As I am writing, and if you are a parent, you must be wondering what to do with your sons and daughters who have completed schooling and even some training but are rotting at the house with no where to go or no hope at all to win jobs!
You may agree this situation is the consequence of the privatisation agenda we swallowed hook, bait and sinker thrown to us by western powers via the IMF decades ago.
Full-fledged capitalism is both inhumane and beastly – as we must have realised by now. You cannot oblige private firms to employ people nor oblige them to handle workers in a humane way.
You are hired by word of mouth and fired accordingly by word of mouth. This is capitalism! And we have massive unemployment in this country. The method of tilling land has not changed either; it is still the hand hoe.
And urban areas are full of young people, some of whom we see hawking this and that, making us wonder whether they are really able to eke a single decent meal a day.
At this point, this is the concrete situation on the ground in this country today. What follows now is to offer some pieces of advise to the ruling party - CCM – now that we have a new Secretary-General who is a renowned intellectual.
He has been my remarkable guest at my weekly TV Talk Show on local Channel Ten. My well-considered advice to the new Secretary-General of CCM is to work towards the party’s original agenda of concern for the majority poor of this country. This should be done consistently.
The Party should strive to narrow the gap between the rich of this country and the majority poor. Any party anywhere has an ideology. What is wrong with the original ideology of this party – UJAMAA – Socialism with self-reliance as its backbone?
Well, if Socialism (Ujamaa) is found tasteless to some people, why not proceed with ‘Hapa Kazi Tu’ (It is only hard work here) - a subtle pursuance of the original agenda of this ruling party? Fortunately, the new CCM Secretary-General has assumed office having investigated the life span of the party in terms of integrity and forthrightness in party leadership.
He is assuming office fully aware of the strengths and weaknesses of his party. So the way forward for the ruling party now is to go back to its roots, revive the party’s ideology within the context of today’s Tanzania.
The party’s organs should meet often to review the social-economic pace of the country, supported by its grass-root network across the country. It should not appear to come to life only when elections are around the corner!
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