THE defection to ACT-Wazalendo by the former CUF Secretary-General, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad on Monday 18th March, 2019; was the hottest “breaking news” in the country’s political arena; and with that big news suddenly dominating the communications networks.
I have chosen to describe this action as “nomadic politics”, or ‘nomadisme politique’ in French. As will be shown below, because this appeared to me to be the most appropriate, and befitting, description of what took place.
The dictionary definition of the word ‘nomad’ is given as “a member of a community that moves with its livestock (and family members), from place to place”.
The former CUF Secretary- General has moved to his new political party, ACT-Wazalendo, with a large number of his followers and supporters (his political family members), which is typical of nomadic behaviour.
To the best of my knowledge and recollection, this is completely new and unprecedented, and a real ‘first’, in all our history of defections by toplevel politicians.
This assertion is evidenced by the following examples, selected ad hoc from memory; in all of which there was no such massive ‘follow the leader’ response by the defector’s supporters.
Take the early example of TANU Secretary-General Oscar Kambona’s defection from TANU in 1967; and that of the then heavy weight politician Agustino Lyatonga Mrema’ defection to NCCR-MAGEUZI in 1995, (where he was received with just about the same amount of fanfare, plus high expectations of “strengthening the Opposition”), which however didn’t materialize.
And, more recently; by another top-level politician and former Prime Minister, Edward Lowassa’s defection from CCM in 2015; who defected to CHADEMA and later returned home; which I aptly described as “Domestic political tourism”.
A matter of hero worship But the instant case of Mr Hamad is entirely different.
It is a distinctive demonstration of what is commonly recognized as “hero worship”, which is defined as “great admiration for somebody, because you think he is extremely attractive, intelligent, etc”.
I am here reminded of a story told by former President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, who went on a visit to Pemba.
He said that while he was being driven through the streets, he expressed admiration at the high level of infrastructure development that had taken place since his previous visit; and showered praise on the then President of Zanzibar, Amani Abeid Karume, for these outstanding achievements.
But, he said, he was quickly silenced by the response he got from the person who was driving him, whose unsolicited reply was thus: “Mzee, the people of Pemba are not impressed by what Karume is doing.
All they want is their beloved Seif Shariff Hamad to become President of Zanzibar. He will surely bring much greater development than what you are seeing now”.
Wow, that is truly “hero worship”; i.e. a demonstration of a very sincere and committed admiration for an individual person.
This is what helps to explain why so many of his supporters went along with him when he defected to ACT-Wazalendo on Monday 18th March, 2019.
Hero worship on an empty stomach? But that is, essentially, what may be described as “political business”. And this quickly reminds me of a statement made by a famous United States statesman, Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924); who is on record as having said the following in a speech in New Y ork, in 1912 : “Business underlies everything in our everyday life, including our spiritual life.
Just witness the fact that even in the Lord’s Prayer, the first petition is for our daily bread. No one can worship God on an empty stomach! Can ‘hero worship’ be done on an empty stomach? Good food for thought.
The ‘Ambition’ and ‘Frustration’ factors in Hamad’s case In one of my previous articles in this column, I made strong submissions to the effect that although the individual motives which induce politicians to defect to other political parties will inevitably vary, but basically, they always revolve around two distinctive factors, which are the “push” factors on the one hand; and the “pull” factors on the other.
The “push” factors are the (intolerable), conditions which literally ‘force’ a person to quit his party and move to another; and the ‘pull’ factors are the attractive prospects which induce a person to join a given party.
And these two factors are themselves promoted by two other factors, which are ‘Ambition’, and ‘Frustration’ respectively.
In the instant case of Seif Shariff Hamad, we have heard it ‘live’ from him stating the reasons for his move at a press conference which he convened specifically for that purpose.
His stated reason was “to place himself in a more conducive environment in which to carry forward his political objectives of fighting for political rights and for democracy”.
Such conducive environment had abruptly disappeared for him in CUF. And that was his ‘push’ factor, which pushed him out of CUF. However, it is no secret that his sole political objective is “to remove CCM from power in Zanzibar, and acquire that power himself”.
That is his insatiable ‘ambition’ (the ‘pull’ factor); which attracted him to ACT-Wazalendo.
It should be pretty obvious that in making his move, Mr Hamad was in fact looking for a platform where he will continue to play “primus inter pares” (first among equals) in the Opposition arena.
No wonder he chose not to join CHADEMA, with whom CUF had willingly partnered during the 2015 Presidential elections, by providing the candidate for a running mate.
And all this is being done under the smoke screen of “fighting for political rights and for democracy”.
But, in reality, in such cases where democracy within political parties is being so deliberately ‘suffocated’ by such insatiable personal ambitions to acquire power by leading politicians, aren’t we, the people of this country, being taken for a ri de?
This now reminds me of a statement which is attributed to Adlai Stevenson, that wellknown United States statesman of the early 1960s, who is reported to have invented his own version of the familiar cliché of “power corrupts”, when he said the following in January 1963: “Power corrupts, but lack of power corrupts absolutely”.
Mr Hamad appears to have been “corrupted absolutely” by the lack of power in Zanzibar. He is obviously prepared ‘to go to great lengths’ in order to acquire it.
With regard to the multitude of followers who defected to ACTWazalendo along with him; if we decide to accept Woodrow Wilson’s ‘doctrine’ of “no worshipping on an empty stomach”; we will quickly find an answer to what motivated his supporters to go along with him.
It must be their (great), expectation of the attractive personal benefits that will accrue to them, in the event of his success in becoming the President of Zanzibar. An achievable objective, or wishful thinking?
But this could end up being mere wishful thinking, for there are certain known conditions which can facilitate the removal of a ruling party from power; all of which are based on one major factor, which is the loss of popularity among the electorate.
And this loss of popularity is normally the result of the intervention of any of the following three occurrences:- (a), the relevant party’s failure to deliver; or (b), the relevant party’s selfinflicted injuries, (such as nasty scandals, particularly relating to corruption by the people in power); or (c), the presence of an unpopular establishment figure, whose removal galvanizes massive political support.
Examples abound around the world, where these factors have played a decisive role in removing ruling parties from power. We do not have sufficient editorial space in this article to indulge in their discussion.
We leave it to the reader to examine, and establish to his complete satisfaction, whether these factors are applicable to Chama cha Mapinduzi, the ruling party in Tanzania.
But I will venture to suggest, that in view of our two Governments’ transparent successes in their delivery performance of goods and services to the people, any talk of “failure to deliver” would probably be taken as no more than a humorous joke.
The purpose of political parties But still, for those interested political analysts, the Seif Shariff Hamad event opens up for discussion the bigger questions regarding (a) the purpose of political parties; and (b) the basis for the membership thereof.
Political parties and their designated purposes “We, the people”, have been told, consistently, and repeatedly, that political parties were designed to serve a specific purpose; and also that political parties “are absolutely essential to democracy”.
The omnibus purpose of every political party is, of course, to acquire state power.
For example, with regard to Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), this objective is manifestly stated in article 5 of its Constitution; while the notion that political parties are absolutely essential to democracy is based on the fundamental principle that democracy gives the majority the right to govern, and there is no way of creating such majority without establishing political parties, which can compete for the right to govern by presenting their different policies and programmes to the relevant electorate, and each party trying to persuade that electorate, through organized campaign meetings, to vote for their policy and programme options.
Consequently, membership of political parties is generally expected to be based on individual persons being wholly satisfied with the policies and programmes of a given party, and thus being persuaded to join the said party as a member, or to remain a member thereof.
Unfortunately however, what we are witnessing through the frequent defections by our politicians from one political party to another, typically nomadic style; creates a totally different impression, namely that of absolute ‘non-commitment’ to the policies and programmes of any party, and of being driven solely by personal ‘ambition’ to acquire power, or ‘frustration’ at the lack of that possibility in the party from which he defects. P olitical parties not deeply rooted in our traditional cultures
In my humble opinion, there is a strong cultural impediment which prevents our politicians from ‘abiding by the rules of the game’ that govern political parties; namely, the fact that the theory and practice of political parties, is not deeply rooted in our own traditional cultures.
This is so because the governance system of our traditional rulers, commonly known as “Chiefs”, was never based on political parties.
And even the British colonial governance system was also not based on political parties; with the British King or Queen being the ruler of the colonized Territory, represented on the ground by a Governor appointed by that ruler.
Strategically, that colonial system also fully utilized the traditional Chiefs for their governance purposes, under a strange doctrine known as “indirect rule”.
Thus, it is only when the British colonialists eventually succumbed to the inevitability of granting independence to their colonial Territories, when they introduced the requirement of political parties.
And, in all cases, including Tanzania that imposed requirement is what gave birth to the first ever political parties to be established.
Thus, political parties were, in effect, an imported commodity, NOT deeply rooted in the traditional culture of “we the people of this country”.
The fact that Maalim Hamad was able to transfer together with so many of his CUF political family members, plus so many CUF office properties, easily confirms the contention that his action was truly ‘nomadisme politique’ , or ‘nomadic politics’; which is different from the Lowassa style of ‘Domestic political tourism’.
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