Meanwhile the government party, the Chama cha Mapinduzi – CCM, has taken early steps to prepare itself for the next general elections in the year 2000 and the local elections in 1999.
At what was described in the press as an expensive ($800,000) Congress in Dodoma in mid-November attended by 1,500 delegates, President Mkapa was elected party chairman and former Prime Minister and long-standing party leader John Malecela retained one of the party vice-chairmanships (Zanzibar President Salmin Amour was chosen again for the other) even though it was said that Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye had hoped to be elected to the mainland post. Robert Rweyemamu writing in the ‘East African’ was critical of the way in which the party chose the same people to be nominated for the top party posts and how these people were then ‘elected’ by chants, clapping and table banging but not by actual voting. In fact there was an election and each candidate obtained more than 99% of the votes. Some observers expressed the view that Malecela had to be chosen again in the interests of unity because he represented a wing of the party not entirely in sympathy with President Mkapa’s reforming zeal. Rweyemamu reported that a long standing party member, Mr Leonard Munasa, had wanted to stand for the chairmanship but was told that to be elected he had first to be nominated and he hadn’t been nominated. The writer said that leadership should not only be democratic; it should be seen to be democratic.
Other observers however felt that the CCM was showing other parties how to conduct their affairs in a way which brought about concensus rather than the kind of bitter division seen in the NCCR.
More democratic was the contest for the CCM National Executive Committee (NEC) where 500 plus members were competing for 80 posts. In all, two ministers, two regional commissioners and 11 MP’s lost their seats. Sadly, one lady member, after making an impassioned plea for votes, died from high blood pressure. The NEC then appointed members to the powerful Central Committee. It now includes the Prime Minister and Messrs Ngombale Mwiru, Jakaya Kikwete, Juma Ngasongwa and three women: Mrs Zakia Meghji, Sifa Swai and Mary Watondoha. The party’s new publicity secretary is Jackson Msome.