The last four months have been bad for Tanzania’s small opposition parties as they continue to fall apart through internal rivalries and lack of clear political philosophy. On the mainland the position of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party now looks unchallengeable. Provided it retains its unity it seems destined to continue to rule Tanzania for the foreseeable future. At the last election CCM got 59.2% of the vote but took all but some 25 of the seats in the National Assembly.

Tanzanian Ambassador in Paris Juma Mwapachu was quoted in Rai as saying that the opposition parties were now so weak and fragmented that they hardly posed any threat to the ruling CCM party. He said he agreed with the late Mwalimu Nyerere that the real opposition would come from within CCM itself, when the party split into two warring factions. The present generation of opposition leaders would have to hand over the mantle to the next generation “before we see a real multi-party system”. He said that the present opposition leaders came from CCM and so had the same “one-party mentality” .

On 7th July the Central Committee of the United Democratic Party (UDP) -by nine votes out of eleven -suspended its chairman John Cheyo, who had been regarded with some respect in certain circles in Dar es Salaam, together with his Vice-chairman and other leaders, allegedly for misappropriating ~:lS 61 million of party funds. The next day Cheyo insisted that he was still chairman and had expelled seven leaders from the party including its MP for Kisese, Erasto Tumbo, and the person installed by the Central Committee as the interim Chairman.

One of the elements in the dispute was an apparent inconsistency between the Swahili and English versions of the UDP constitution which caused Political Parties Registrar John Tendwa to pause before giving his decision. After examining the English and Swahili versions finally on July 25 he accepted the decision of the Central Committee. The new interim leadership of the party was vested in the acting chairman Amani Nzugile but he was instructed to hold fresh party elections as soon as possible.

On August 6 Uwazi reported that the new UDP leadership had filed a suit against Cheyo for Shs 137 million of state subsidy and for the return of five vehicles and party documents. Cheyo accused the new leadership of being funded by the Libyan Cultural Centre but this was subsequently strongly denied by the Libyan Ambassador who said that Nzugile had been given only Euros 500 for a training seminar in Mwanza for 10 UDP leaders.

On August 8 the Guardian reported that UDP’s Mwanza Region, its area of greatest strength, still considered Cheyo to be National Chairman ofthe party.

Meanwhile the NCCR-Mageuzi party was also facing internal turmoil. Majira reported rumours that certain members were plotting against chairman Mbatia. The party then received more bad news. The Appeal Court had nullified the election of Kifu Gulamhussein as NCCR MP for Kigoma, the party’s only elected MP. The panel of three judges said that Kifu had used tribalism during his election campaign in 2000, which was contrary to electoral laws. Evidence showed that Kifu used his Waha tribal sentiments against his CCM opponent, a Bemba originating from the Congo. He was said to have gone around saying, “We Waha have been oppressed for too long by Bemba from the Congo. It is time we freed ourselves.” Kifu won the seat by 24,180 votes to 23,689. This means that NCCR will no longer be entitled to government subsidies which are paid to parties which have MPs in the National Assembly:

A further sign of disorder in the opposition camp was the apparent failure, reported in the Guardian (August 1) of a meeting of the small parties (the most important opposition party, the Civic United Front­CUF -did not take part) to choose candidates for the new Electoral Commission in Zanzibar.

Registrar of Political Parties, John Tendwa revoked the registration of the PONA party on grounds that it had contravened the law and its constitution by not electing its leaders. After it had been given another period of grace it called a meeting where leaders were handpicked but Mwananchi reported that the meeting had been marred by violence and walkouts. John Chipaka was elected as party president. 35 delegates from Zanzibar were reported to have walked out on grounds that they had not been paid their allowances. The party has been in shaky existence since 1992.

The other party whose registration has been revoked is the Tanzania Peoples Party (TPP). Neither have any MP’s in parliament.

To the surprise of many, the Democratic Party (DP) led by Rev. Christopher Mtikila has been registered. The party first applied in 1992 but was refused registration because Mtikila was not prepared to recognise Tanzania and insisted on Tanganyika being a separate sovereign state. Mtikila said the party would now continue with the task left unfinished in 1993 but he would still push for a separate government for the mainland. He said at that time the people had 400 parastatal organisations that were subsequently sold off. He said the task now would be to fight for the restoration of these public properties. Talking of his track record he said he had been in and out of prison more than 23 times, all while fighting for the ‘people’s rights.’ Well known for his firebrand style of politics, he found himself in court on August 5 accused of sedition after Swahili newspapers had reported him telling a rally that President Mkapa was a ‘foreign citizen’ having been born in Mozambique and Prime Minister Sumaye was ‘a thief. Mtikila’s wife was quoted in the Swahili press as saying that Mtikila believed that Mwalimu Nyerere had been born in Rwanda.

After recent changes the composition of the National Assembly has become CCM 253, CUF 3, Chadema 5, TLP 5 and UDP 3 seats.

CCM has begun distributing nomination forms for the forthcoming election of its leaders. These elections take place every five years. A Shs 10,000 fee is being charged for each form. For the National Executive Council (NEC) elections there will be reserved seats for women (16), youth (10), parents (10), Zanzibar (20) and the Mainland (20). Nine general seats will be filled in an open election by the national electoral conference. While ordinary candidates have to fill in the forms and vie for the positions available, that is not the case with the National Chairman and two Deputy Chairmen. They are nominated by the party’s Central Committee, seconded by the NEC and then elected by the national conference.

CCM members of parliament have been told by the Speaker that they are not allowed to form informal pressure groups. He was referring to the ‘G-55’ in 1993 in which 55 CCM MPs presented a motion asking for a three-tier government (instead of the present two-tier system). In April this year there was the ‘G-46’, supporting a private motion against the employment of management contractors to run the TANESCO power authority. President Mkapa had defused the crisis by reminding CCM MP’s of their duty to support the CCM manifesto at the last elections which included provision for a change in the management of the authority. The MPs were also told by Presidential Advisor Kingunge Ngombale-Mwiru that their activities were likely to boost the opposition and weaken the government. He said the backbenchers had a duty to support the front bench.

As this issue of Tanzanian Affairs went to press there were further indications of the disunity between and within Tanzania’s opposition political parties. See article on Page 2 The Guardian reported on August 12th on a ‘fairly big’ rally held on at the Jangwani grounds in Dar es Salaam, attended by conducted by CUF, the Tanzania Labour Party (TLP), the UDP and CHADEMA. Speakers said that the current National Assembly was a rubber stamp which was toothless in the face of the CCM administration. But immediately after the meeting TLP Secretary General was quoted as saying that the two TLP MP’s who had attended the rally would be grilled for defying a directive not to attend and might be subjected to disciplinary action. The reason was that CUF was also there. According to TLP, CUF was cooperating closely with the CCM and was resisting efforts by the other opposition parties to be involved in the implementation of the Zanzibar agreement.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.