The question many people ask is whether what is happening in the parties is a manifestations of democracy gaining momentum or the beginning of the end of CCM as a ruling party and therefore sliding towards acquiring the status of an opposition party if
it avoids total disintegration, or, as regards the opposition parties, whether it is a sign of their frustrations for missing out on the high office of the land.
In the opposition camp, there is every sign of frustration and mistrust among the parties’ leaders who seem to think the solutions lie in ‘getting rid’ of what they consider as bad elements. As for CCM, the situation seems to suggest that the party is falling apart and the centre cannot hold and therefore is heading towards total collapse. This has come about after allegations that some individuals within CCM who seem to show interest in contesting for presidency come 2015 and is now allegedly setting up teams to support them when time comes.
These are the teams said to be tearing the party apart. The next general election may seem a little bit too far to start campaigning for the various posts within the political parties and for the Members of Parliament (MPs) and the presidency. But looking at it closely, we may find that there is very little time, if there is any at all. It is normal at the end of every election for the parties and, indeed, individuals, to assess their performance; where they did well and where they failed and how and why they performed the way they did.
Such postmortems are performed in order to improve on where they excelled and to rectify where they goofed. Both within the political parties and at national level, there must have been people who had contested for a particular post but lost to a better or luckier candidate during the last elections. And so obviously those people would like to try their luck next time around, and this will be in 2015.
Some wise politicians once said the end of one election is the beginning of the next election; meaning that campaigning for the next election starts immediately after the announcement of the results of the previous election. This means, therefore, that campaigns for 2015 election began, or should have begun, soon after the results of the 2010 elections were announced. Under normal and sober circumstances, I would think it is not wrong for individuals to start campaigning for the 2015 general election, which are hardly three years away.
It is alright for those who have no political ambitions, but they should not discourage those who think can better contribute to the country’s development by being a Ward Councilor, or a Member of Parliament or a President. And this is democracy. And for such people, it is not at all too early to start campaigning; in fact, it could be too late now. The question we should ask is what kind of campaign are we talking about?
To announce one’s intention to stand for the next election in whatever capacity is to campaign. This is the type of campaign I am referring to, and this is what I would want to see happening within the political parties. It should end there. As far as I understand, the law concerning election campaign does not prohibit one from announcing one’s desire to stand for any political post. It prohibits one from conducting campaign rallies or addressing organised and focused political meetings before specified time.
Each political party has its rules and regulations concerning elections within the parties. Above all political parties have their own constitutions which guide their operations. But just as national constitutions should not stifle individual freedom of expression or human rights, political party constitutions should guarantee freedom of expression to their members. In other words, they should guarantee democracy.
So, I see nothing wrong for people like Edward Lowassa, Samwel Sitta, Bernard Membe or any other person to make public their political intentions for the 2015 general election if they believe that they have what it takes to be what they want to be, so long as they do not breach the rules and regulations or constitution of their party. They should not be discouraged or intimidated by any person or group of people or institution.
Likewise, those who want to announce their intentions or have already declared their political intentions should not discourage or intimidate others. To do so would be to stifle democracy and plunge their party into anarchy, into confusion and into disrepute, to the detriment of their own ambitions. But as far as I am concerned, no one in the ruling party has declared his or her intention to contest for the presidency or any other post.
Nearer to the event, I have not heard any member of the ruling party who has declared his or her intention to contest for the party chairmanship or any other position in the party. So if there has not been any official declaration of intent, then the groups talked about are imaginary. Otherwise, those responsible are doing it clandestinely because they are afraid of being sanctioned by their party. They know that they are popular because they are in their respective parties and that outside their parties they are nothing.
They know that they cannot hide behind the cloak of democracy and work for the disintegration of their parties because that would mean their certain demise as well. This also applies to the other political parties, the opposition camp, where we have witnessed some decisions taken by some party leadership, in particular the National Convention for Construction and Reform (NCCR) and the Civic United Front (CUF) against some of their members intriguing.
As for NCCR-Mageuzi, the Parliamentarian, Mr David Kafulila had grown out of the party, forgetting that he was there because of the party. However, I think the decision they took was a bit too harsh for the young and upcoming, maybe overzealous, politician.
They should have given him a ‘lighter sentence’, a warning, maybe. But the case of Hamad Rashid Mohamed and company against CUF leadership is different from that of Kafulila versus NCCR-Mageuzi. To me, CUF’s decision on Hamad Rashid and others is a denial of justice and the gagging of democracy. It shows CUF leadership’s inability to stomach challenges. The worst part of it is that the leadership can even ignore court orders. And this is a dangerous precedent for a political party.