At a meeting of the National Conference of Chama cha Mapinduzi, the governing body of the Party, in January, 1982, a number of changes in the Constitution of the Party were approved. Many were matters of detail, such as provision for a secretariat at District, Regional and National levels and a definition of their functions. There were, however, more significant changes, such as the following:
(1) Party Chairman and Vice-Chairman
As before, these officers are to be elected for a term of five years by the National Conference, but henceforth election is to be by secret ballot. The National Executive Committee is now empowered to suspend either officer if his conduct or activities contravene the requirements of good leadership, subject to reference to the National Conference for a final decision.
(2) Central Committee
This body, charged with day-to-day administration under the National Executive Committee, has been reduced to 15 members of the NEC in addition to the officers from 30 members appointed by the NEC plus up to 10 further members nominated by the Party Chairman. Thus, the Chairman’s right of nomination is abolished, as is also a special subcommittee of the Central Committee responsible for guiding and supervising the activities of the Government with respect to Zanzibar. The Committee is to increase the frequency of its ordinary meetings from two monthly to monthly.
(3) National Executive Committee
In contrast to the Central Committee, the size of the NEC is increased from a maximum of 142 to a maximum of 193, with an additional emphasis on Regional membership and the Party Secretary is now a member in his own right. The functions of the NEC are more clearly defined than before and now include the duty of proposing a candidate each for election as Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Party and as President of the United Republic and of making the final choice of a candidate for election as Head of Government in Zanzibar.
(4) Frequency of meetings
The National Conference will continue to be called in ordinary session every five years, but the NEC will ordinarily meet every four months instead of six and the corresponding Regional and District organs are also to meet more frequently.
The changes in general seem to be aimed at strengthening the Party as a machine for guiding the objectives of government and for mobilising and educating popular support. There is, however, as before no direct link between members at the grass roots and either the National Conference, or the NEC. The National Conference has about a thousand members, of whom one third are members of the Bunge (parliament of the United Republic) and of these a third are constituency elected members. Thus only about a tenth of the membership of the National Conference are responsible to the electorate not limited to Party members. The influence of the grass roots member is felt mainly at branch, Regional and District level. All branch chairmen and a member elected by each branch have places at the Regional Conference of the Party, while the District Conference includes the chairman and three members of each branch.
J. Roger Carter