The political situation in mainland Tanzania has been relatively calm during recent months but as the Swahili paper Rai indicated in June there is likely to be a big fight within the ruling CCM party next year when a new party leaders will be elected and when these leaders begin to jockey for the position of presidential candidate at the end of President Mkapa’s second five-year term in office in 2005.
Five leaders of the formerly influential opposition NCCRMageuzi party have defected to CCM in recent months of whom one, Dr Masumbuko Lamwai is now a nominated CCM MP (Special seats). The late President Nyerere’s eldest son, Andrew Burito was reported in Majira as having joined CUF ‘because of its economic policies’. Another son, Makongoro defected last year from the NCCR party to CCM and Mwalimu’s daughter, Rose Nyerere, is a nominated MP and a member of the CCM National Executive Committee.
The newly appointed Registrar Political Parties, John Tendwa has been making an impression by calling on the 12 opposition parties to unite saying that a strong opposition would not only strengthen democracy but also ease his burden. He made the statement in a visit to the main opposition CUF headquarters the first visit it of its kind to any of the opposition parties. He said that, although some political parties had qualified for deregistration, he wouldn’t deregister them. “Politics needs some tolerance” he said.
THE SUGAR CRISIS
The relatively calm political atmosphere was disturbed however as this issue of Tanzanian Affairs went to press when some CCM MP’s began to exert pressure on their own Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Iddi Simba, because of what one described as the illegal issuing of sugar licenses. Details are given under ‘The Economy’ below. Michael Okema, writing in The East African on August 6 tried to explain the political implications of this controversy even though he said that what he was writing ‘might seem far-fetched’. Extracts: ‘Given Tanzania’s weak opposition parties any opposition (to the government) worth its name has been occurring within the CCM. Residues of past differences within the party come out in parliamentary debates. It (the sugar crisis) began with a complaint from Chrisant Mzindakaya CCM MP for Kwela accusing Mr Simba of misleading MP’s about sugar import permits. He submitted a private motion in Parliament seeking the formation of a Select Committee to investigate the matter. “Most of these companies did not deserve these licenses and this has created loopholes for corruption,” said Mzindakaya.
The motion to set up a committee to probe into what was described as ‘the sugar scam’ was supported by MPs of both sides of the House. At the end of July the Minister of State in the President’s Office responsible for good government, Mr Wilson Masilingi, said that the government would have no mercy on any person proved to have received or offered a bribe in connection with the importation of sugar. ‘
Okema went on: ‘This is the same Mzindakaya who in March 1997 raised hell over a tax waiver on cooking oil granted to businessmen – an affair which ended with the resignation of Finance Minister Prof. Simon Mbilinyi …. During 1995 there had been a heated debate over who should succeed the then President Mwinyi. Local papers at the time alleged that Mzindakaya had backed former Prime Minister John Malecela for the position, thus drawing the wrath of Mwalimu Nyerere. When Benjamin Mkapa became the CCM presidential candidate, the people who came to centre stage were not those who had enjoyed the political limelight under President Mwinyi. There was therefore some bitterness, especially as the ‘old guard’ were alleged to have been corrupt. A former Minister of Works Mr Nalaila Kiula is currently facing charges of corruption allegedly committed when he served under President Mwinyi (see below). It was important for the old guard to clear their name. So they have been trying to show that there is as much corruption under Mkapa as there was under Mwinyi.’
Writer Okema’s final words in the article were: ‘They are negatively proving their innocence. Mzindakaya’s dogged pursuit of Mkapa’s Minister over the years is not for nothing’. Reacting to Mzindakaya’s private motion, Attorney General Andrew Chenge said the government accepted the claims made by Mzindakaya in his motion. It also supported the need to investigate the matter but because the issue centred on the ministry’s failure to execute its duties, the motion should be amended to allow the government to carry out the investigation rather than a Select Committee. CCM MP’s accepted Chenge’s suggestion. However, opposition CHADEMA party MP Dr Wilbrod Slaa alleged that, by letting the government carry out the investigation, it would deny Parliament its advisory role. “The saga has been going on since April but the government has been silent. Why should it want to investigate now?” he questioned. He suggested that the minister and his deputy ought to do Parliament justice by resigning.
In his reaction to the motion, Minister Simba said “I am honest. I have not cheated this Parliament and I am not corrupt. The government can go ahead and investigate.” The sugar saga was only one of many conflicts that were bound to happen as the government moved from monopoly trade which did not allow free competition to open market business.
RE-ALLOCATION OF SUBSIDIES
Following the expulsion of 15 CUF MP’s from the National Assembly (TA No 69) the Government has cut the party’s monthly subvention from Shs 21.8 million to Shs 15.5 million the balance being divided amongst the other parties. The new allocations are as follows (Number of votes obtained in the 2000 elections in brackets):
CCM Shs 175 million (4,645,326)
NCCR Shs 489,000 (256,691)
TLP Shs 13.3m (657,965),
CHADEMA Shs1.9 million (298,536),
UDP Shs 1.4 million (315,427).
CUF got 892,075 votes.
Other parties with no seats: 11,731 votes,
NRA 70 -The Guardian.
EALA ELECTION RESULTS
The National Assembly has elected nine legislators – six men and three women (three from Zanzibar and six from the mainland) for the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) eight from CCM and Mabere Marando from the opposition NCCR-Mageuzi. He defeated three aspirants from other opposition parties and got 206 largely CCM votes out of 261 total, defeating Bob Makani of CHADEMA who obtained 65 votes, Dr. F Masha of the United Democratic party who got 19 and Peter Mziray of the Tanzania Labour Party who got 15. Cheers and ululations from CCM MP’s greeted Marando’s victory – The Guardian.