Instead of returning the salutation as was customary, Mwalimu replied: “Kigumu Chama Cha Mapinduzi,” a pun on the salutation with multiple meanings including that CCM was a difficult party and a solid party at the same time.
Difficult in the sense that the party required at any one time very keen leadership. Solid in that it was not easy to rock its leadership and throw it into confusion as it nearly happened in 1995 when a group of MPs wanted to pass a motion in parliament for the formation of the government of Tanganyika contrary to party policy and without the matter having been debated first in party sittings.
Mwalimu, who was ten years retired, blasted the then premier, Mzee John Malecela as a political hooligan who failed to advise the President appropriately when the “Group of 55 MPs” wanted to stage the equivalent of a policy coup d’etat. In fact, even the then Speaker, Mzee Pius Msekwa had said the motion for the government of Tanganyika had reached “a point of no return.”
It was exactly after that statement that Mwalimu called a media conference and used the occasion and “people’s power’ embodied in the power of the media, to throw the motion out of the House with the simple logic that the move was unconstitutional. So “Kigumu Chama Cha Mapinduzi.”
Of late, CCM has been struggling to rebrand itself as a truly people’s party after a spate of shocks that indicated it had lost its populist, massive and overwhelming grassroots appeal. Indeed, there were good reasons to believe the party had skidded off track and the people justified in telling it that they no longer felt that the independence party was still the liberation and revolutionary movement of their dreams for liberty. But, “Kigumu Chama Cha Mapinduzi.”
For rather too long, the people have been fed venomous stories that rival camps or groups within CCM were out to wreck the party. I dare say there are no groups within CCM. What are seen as groups is nothing but rivalry for power and leadership of the party, which is not the same as to say there are powerful groups that can either wreck of wrestle the party from the people.
In fact, rivalry for leadership is a healthy situation as along as it is conducted according to the entrenched philosophies and ethical values and practices of the party. The rivalry is for control of the one and solid CCM that all acknowledge is a formidable political machinery, outside of which the dreams of many could be difficult to realise. Thus, CCM’s major problem is not about leadership but toeing the party’s strict code of values and mission philosophy.
Two major reforms took place simultaneously in our country. There were on the one hand the economic reforms brought about by the end of the cold war and on the other, political reforms at a time when single party democracy was no longer fashionable. In fact, it was Mwalimu’s wisdom again that saved CCM. Some CCM stalwarts had wanted to ignore the political reforms while they had already embraced the economic reforms!
Mwalimu argued that it was better for CCM to enter the era of multiparty politics when it could control the process than wait to be swept from power by an unstoppable wave. He saw the future and I shudder to imagine what could have happened if it were the opposition that at this point in time, were the force that called the shorts. The question is: Is the CCM that we have today the kind that Mwalimu had in mind when he placed all his trust in the party?
It is pretty much still the same CCM except that in the recent past, the party went through a worrisome phase of serious attrition as a result of appearing to abandon its constituent values, namely that CCM is a party of Peasants and Workers. That is the core strength of the party and one that cannot be taken away or pig-backed upon by a class of non Peasants and Workers.
Unfortunately, some non Peasants and Workers thought hijacking the party was the simplest way to win power, exploit and suck the people. It was a big mistake. Even Mwalimu had said the moment CCM stopped to embrace the same ideology that he believed in, he would not hesitate to quit the party.
President Jakaya Kikwete, former premier Edward Lowassa and Secretary General, Wilson Mukama belong to the youth talent cadre groomed by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. They could be said to be the second generation leaders of the party and direct heirs of the skills of the Founding Fathers. What I find wanting with the group is their apparent failure to also groom an equally high calibre youth wing cadre to ensure the party’s dominance in national political leadership.
CCM that trails the opposition agenda votes itself out of power. But the biggest threat to its survival is the existence within its ranks of a parasitic class that has almost nothing to do with the interests of the Peasants and Workers. That is why the party cries sabotage by a group of people pursuing selfish interests of the good intentions of the government it leads. Ironically, some of those individuals are “comrades!”
In my opinion, CCM has to go back to the old ways. Let leaders be truly chosen by the people and not the people to merely endorse the selected because of their power of money instead of being elected.