THE RE-ELECTION OF MWALIMU NYERERE AS PARTY CHAIRMAN
There were those claiming to be wise before the event and others claiming to be wise after the event. But many people who were expected to be in the know were taken by surprise when they picked up their newspapers on October 22nd 1987 and read that Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere had been nominated by the CCM Party’s National Executive Committee as the sole candidate for the Party Chairmanship. Many were even more surprised when they learnt that the nomination had been unanimous.
Some recalled vaguely how they thought they remembered Mwalimu saying some time ago that he was resigning as President of the United Republic, but would continue to serve as Chairman of the Party for two more years. They seemed to recall something about him retiring to his village to keep his six cows (Bulletin No 23). Then there was the Seminar about ‘Tanzania After Nyerere’ and the worry of one speaker at the seminar about the painful thing it would be for Mwalimu to find himself sitting in his Butiama village and seeing his progressive achievements eroded away (Bulletin No 25). Later, Mwalimu had taken on an important new international post – Chairman of the South Commission (Bulletin No 26) which many expected would take a lot of his time. In Bulletin No 27 we quoted from a paper by Dr. Haroub Othman who had stated that “despite his absence from the Presidency, Nyerere will continue to be a great influence on the country even after he retires as CCM Chairman in 1987”. Another assumption that he would indeed retire. Even more recently, at several meetings in 1987 (Bulletin No 28), Mwalimu was himself quoted as saying that the two posts of President and Party Chairman should be held by the same person. That person could only be President Mwinyi.
The Debate Intensifies
By the middle of 1987 speculation as to what would happen intensified both inside and outside Tanzania. Mwalimu, when asked, as he was frequently, said that the matter would be decided by the Party Congress due to meet in October 1987.
In August, the widely read Tanzanian Catholic newspaper, Kiongozi, quoted in Africa Events, rather surprisingly and directly entered the debate. It wrote: “As time has passed, President Mwinyi has demonstrated his competence in leadership and those who thought he might be unequal to the job find they have misread the script. Just like Nyerere, Mwinyi is an intellectual and a simple man who is given to piety …. However, what is amazing is that some ordinary people and some Party and Government leaders have emerged to launch a secret campaign aimed at persuading Nyerere to continue to lead the Party, the reason being that we still need his wisdom. We must accept that there is no leader who can claim to be indispensable or irreplaceable. As human beings go, they are all prone to err. Equally, to each man his own style of leadership. This being the case, there is no substance whatsoever to the claims of some leaders that Nyerere should continue as the Party Chairman. If the point is to benefit from his insights, he can still offer them in his capacity as an ordinary member of the Party”.
But A.M. Babu, writing in the September 1987 issue of Africa Events, began to express some worries which were clearly being felt further afield. He wrote that; “Nyerere is about to abdicate his position of power and this fact, together with the vacuum that he leaves behind, has naturally created a mood of uncertainty among Tanzanians. Lilliputians have frantically emerged in full force, fighting and back-stabbing each other, for the simple objective of advancing their blind personal ambition to fill the power vacuum …. As the power fighters are sharpening their daggers for the Party Congress, Tanzanians will do well to reflect on the 25 years of stability and harmony among the people and to remember that this is the greatest legacy for which Nyerere will be remembered in history … The whole world will be looking at us on how we resolve the problem of the leadership transition and we must do it in style”
Until a relatively short time before the Party Conference some uncertainty remained. Africa Events, in its November 1987 issue, recounted the story of what it described as a visit, sometime earlier, by one of Nyerere’s old friends, to see him in Dar es Salaam. After the usual preliminary hearty salutations, the visitor lunged straight towards the heart of the hottest issue of the day. Was Julius going to call it quits? The answer was sober and frank. “Yes” the visitor was told. “Why?” he asked. The answer was that Mwalimu needed to have time to write his memoirs, to fulfil his new duties in the South Commission and do other things. But the visitor was not satisfied. What was the real reason, he wanted to know. The real reason, he was told, was that Mwalimu had had a lot of time to tour the country during the last year on behalf of the Party. He had been listening and talking to Villagers. He could not help noticing the unmistakable signal in their eyes. They were telling him that it was time he went. It was clear that most Tanzanians would prefer to see the back of him. And that was why he was not standing for re-election.
The press in Kenya joined in the speculation and indicated a certain desire that Mwalimu should depart the scene. The Daily Nation wrote to the effect that it had been suicidal to try and apply a policy of socialism in a situation where there were no socialists.
The Economist, which is not an admirer of Mwalimu, was very blunt in its October 17th issue. “Mr. Nyerere … will probably find the forthcoming conference less comfortable than the international goodwill circuit …. delegates will, if their country is lucky, hear Mr. Nyerere announce that he really is retiring”.
A few days before the conference Le Monde, in Paris, featured a
major article under the heading ‘Mr. Julius Nyerere, will he resolve to leave the political scene?’ After examining all the evidence, the writer, Le Monde’s correspondent in Nairobi, was not sure.
The Third National Party Conference.
Before attempting to interpret what happened, a reference to the Conference itself. It was the first full conference since the 1982 one in Dar es Salaam. It was held in one of the National Milling Corporation’s godowns (completely transformed inside for the occasion) at Kizota, five kilometres from Dodoma. It was big – 1,931 delegates accommodated in schools, houses and the newly extended – from 30 to 96 rooms – Dodoma Railway Hotel. Thirty four foreign delegations stretching alphabetically from Albania to Zimbabwe. Ambassadors, Founder members of the two parties (TANU and ASP) from which the CCM was formed. The Conference lasted 10 days, from October 22nd to 30th 1987.
And what did it do? It elected the new leaders of the Party including the new National Executive and Central Committees (with two surprise results – see below); three thousand candidates were nominated for positions on the NEC and a subsequent short list contained the names of 300; these three hundred were competing for 90 national seats of which 10 were reserved for women, five each for youth and the armed forces and 20 for Zanzibar. There were 122 candidates for the 40 regional NEC seats.
The Conference also considered a draft 15-Year Party Programme and Economic guidelines for the next five years. The Party Programme is an 88 page green booklet, the first of its kind to be issued by the Party. Its text is said to include, among other things, reference to internal counter revolutionaries and external enemies, the raising of the ideological consciousness of the masses, the need for regularity in Party meetings, strict discipline and democratic procedures, collective decision making, the continued relevance of the Party leadership code, the gradual abandonment of the ‘mixed economy’ concept perpetuated by petty bourgeois forces and the firm resolve of the Party to build a new economic system to serve a socialist society.
Mwalimu Warns on Wealth Accumulation.
In the opening session of the Conference Mwalimu Nyerere returned to some familiar themes. He called for concerted action to check the emergence of a class of the rich. He said that some dishonest public servants and unscrupulous individuals were taking advantage of the severe economic difficulties to enrich themselves. If this trend was allowed to continue, he said, it would jeopardise national peace and stability.
He explained that the number of people questioning the sincerity of leaders had grown rapidly and there was a feeling among the people that the contradiction between what some leaders preach and their actions was widening. “I am not saying that these questionings and this cynicism has yet become sufficiently widespread to be immediately dangerous to our equality and our stability. But I am saying that a trend can be discerned and, unfortunately, the facts to support it are there to be seen …“.
Mwalimu gave the example of retired leaders who immediately mobilised capital to launch capitalist enterprises. Though there was no law against it, the practice raised doubts among the people as to the sincerity of such leaders’ previous speeches in support of Ujamaa.
It was also being suspected that the rich had better access to important publicly provided services, that they had powers to bend the law and that they were quietly exercising influence on policy making. “We have people in prison because they cannot pay the development levy and we have rich people who do not pay income tax or pay very little. We have people who go to bed hungry and we have people who throw food away” Mwalimu said.
In his peroration, Mwalimu continued “Troubles make weak and chicken hearted people cry; effective people, with strong hearts, are matured by them. We are poor in material goods but we are not chicken hearted. We have the strength of unity and confidence which comes from knowing that we are fighting for justice and equality both within our country and beyond its borders …. If we continue to keep a firm hold on the rudder of our unity and if we continue to have confidence in ourselves and our objectives, we are not afraid of storms. Let them blow. Our vessel will be tossed about by the waves and wind; often it will veer from the course; but it will not lose direction and will return to the sea lane. Finally we shall resume our journey with more power and arrive safely at the destination”.
The Election Results.
The day before this opening address the National Executive Committee had unanimously nominated Julius Kambarage Nyerere as the sole candidate for the Party chairmanship. At the same meeting Ali ‘Hassan Mwinyi was nominated the sole candidate for the post of Party Vice-Chairman.
Ten days later the Conference delegates voted. Mwalimu received 1,878 votes out of 1,910 cast. Mr. Mwinyi got 1,907 out of 1,908.
Mr. Rashidi Kawawa was re-elected as Party Secretary General by 158 out of the 159 NEC members who voted.
Many well known persons failed to be elected to the NEC including the Deputy Ministers of Local Government and Cooperatives and Agriculture and Livestock Development, the Chairman of the Leadership Code Enforcement Commission, Mr. Selemani Kitundu and )Is Lucy Lameck. Fifty two of the new NEC members are university graduates.
The Central Committee
On November 2nd came the elections for the powerful Central Committee of the Party. And here there were two surprises. The dynamic Chief Minister of Zanzibar, Seif Shariff Hamad and the Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs and Planning, Mr Cleopa Msuya, who had previously been members, failed to be elected. In the first case the intricacies of Zanzibar politics must have played a role and perhaps Mr. Hamad has been a little too direct in his relations, particularly with older colleagues. In the case of Mr. Msuya one can only conclude that the IMF medicine which he had prescribed for Tanzania is either too potent for the taste of certain of the patients or there are genuine fears amongst Party members that it was not the correct prescription in the first place.
The successful candidates in the various elections for the Central Committee were as follows:
Julius Kambarage Nyerere
All Hassan Mwinyi
Idris Abdul Wakil
Joseph Sinde Warioba
Salim Ahmed Salim
Gertrude Ibengwe Mongella
Abdullah Saidi Natepe
A11 Ameir Mohamed (new member and Editor of the Party newspapers Uhuru and Mzalendo)
Sebastian Chale (new member and Ruvuma CCM Regional Chairman)
Hassan Nassor Moyo
Ali Mzee Ali
Daudi Ngelautwa Mwakawago
A further change was the appointment of Prime Minister Joseph Warioba as Secretary of the NEC Commission for National Defence and Security in place of Mr. Salim Ahmed Salim, the Minister of Defence and National Service.
Why was Mwalimu Nyerere Re-elected?
From the evidence available it seems that there were at least five factors involved in the re-election of Mwalimu Nyerere as Party Chairman:
a) A request to him to accept re-election from the only possible alternative candidate – President himself. President Mwinyi may well be feeling the pressures of high office. He is deeply involved in tackling the serious economic crisis and in negotiations with the IMF and with donor countries. He is becoming more involved in the struggle in Southern Africa after his participation in the Commonwealth Conference in Vancouver where this was again the main subject under Discussion. He must worry about the involvement (an involvement which it is understood was entered into with great reluctance by Tanzania in view of the economic implications) of the Tanzanian army in northern Mozambique. It can easily be understood that President Mwinyi might prefer someone else to handle the affairs of a political party of the size and constitutional importance of the CCM.
b)Mwalimu Nyerere’s own disappointment at the state of the Party as revealed to him during his extensive touring of the last 18 months. Mwalimu must have felt a sense of duty in wishing to continue to try and strengthen it; he has not hidden his view that many of its leaders are lacking in the socialist ideals to which he attaches such importance.
c)The Party members themselves must have had a clear interest in retaining in charge the person who formed the Party, who believes in it and who can best defend it.
d) The political situation in Zanzibar remains delicate (Bulletin No. 28). Mwalimu Nyerere was really the architect of the Union between the mainland and Zanzibar. He is much respected there and is presumably anxious to see the Union very firmly established before he relinquishes the power to help bring this about.
e) Perhaps the most important factor of all – a growing feeling that the country is less united in its policies and objectives than it was. Tanzania is an island of free speech amidst much oppression and Tanzanians have been becoming more and more outspoken in different directions. Yet they do not have to look very far to see what happens when a country is not united. Mwalimu Nyerere is also fully aware of the key role of the army in the African context. The importance of stability must have been apparent to all. By re-electing Mwalimu Nyerere, the Party members have indicated that continued stability remains high in their list of priorities.
Mwalimu Nyerere’s Acceptance Speech
Mwalimu Nyerere confirmed much of what has been written above in the speech he gave at the Conference on October 31st 1987.
He said that it was the need to strengthen Party democracy and the pressure of events – both domestic and international – which made it difficult for Tanzania to re-combine the Party Chairmanship and President in one person for the time being. The President found it difficult to find time to do the needed Party work.
The following are extracts from the speech:
“Ndugu Delegates, Twice I have had the honour of having my name proposed at the Party’s National Congress for election as CCM Chairman for periods of five years. On neither occasion was I compelled to make an official acceptance speech. But on this occasion I believe that it is inevitable that I should do so.
Many years back, before 1985, I said openly that from that year on, I would not accept nomination as Party candidate for the Presidency of Tanzania. I contend that the experience we have gained during the last two years, during which our nation has been led by President Ali Hassan Mmwinyi, confirm that the decision was for the benefit of our nation (applause)
I have been stressing the danger of divisions that could emerge in our nation between two groups – a group led by the President of the country and a group led by the Party Chairman. Even if there is no difference between the two leaders themselves, such a difference could emerge as a result of their tasks. It has been argued that this is not the right time to combine the tasks of Party Chairman and President. Although all of us accept that normally both caps should be worn together, it is appropriate for the time being to allow more time for the strengthening of our Party.
The other argument put forward is that I and President Mwinyi have worked together on the basis of excellent cooperation … so it is argued that if this period is extended, there will be no danger of creating divisions in the Party and our nation …..
Ndugu CCM members, it is appropriate that I should avail myself of this opportunity to affirm to CCM members and all the people of Tanzania the reality of the situation ….. Reports … published by the international press and media and whispered by those who wish to create chaos, agents sent by people outside (applause) have always been untrue and fabricated reports.
Truly, the motive of such reports is envy. They are made in the hope that they will help divide us. If they did not divide me and President Mwinyi, perhaps they would divide the people of Tanzania. And even where there are no divisions, newspapers, our enemies’ broadcasts and the fools in our midst (laughter) would continue to sing: divisions do exist – they are there between the President and the Chairman. Eventually, even reliable people could start believing that this is true. They would quote proverbs like: if it is spoken about, it exists. They would say: even if it does not exist now, it is coming (laughter).
Ndugu members and Ndugu citizens: there is no split between the Chairman and your President. It does not exist (shouts and prolonged applause) ….
I wish to state this: I have resolved to accept the nomination Ndugu President for two reasons. Firstly, it is true the arguments about the strengthening of our Party are valid. And secondly, the fact is that you, the country’s President, wish me to do so”.
Reaction to his re-election was very enthusiastic at the Conference. Otherwise, they appear to have been rather muted. The Tanzanian Daily News confined itself largely to factual descriptions of the events. Several messages of congratulation were reported to have been sent to Mwalimu from within and without Tanzania.
The British press almost entirely ignored the event and the news came too late for the African monthly press based in Britain to comment.
Africa Events, ever alert to happenings in Tanzania, in its November issue, in a column headed ‘Shop Talk’, thought that the Party had been a ‘spoil sport’. In re-electing Mwalimu Nyerere it had denied the old campaigner the joy of lazing it out on the quiet fringes rather than in the bustling centre of power. “More importantly, the Party has again shown how far removed is its ear from the national pulse on the ground ….. the price of gross political expediency is diminished goodness in ideology”.
Finally, the Tanzanian Sunday News, in its November 8th issue, under the heading ‘Democracy Wins at Dodoma’ wrote that ‘The gains and losses at the Third National Party Conference have been described as the achievement of the CCM’s implementation of democracy. The defeat of two Deputy Cabinet Ministers and several prominent figures in the Party and Government indicated two things: First, it proved the delegate’s voting power; second, it demonstrated the people’s freedom to vote for candidates of their own choice.’ David Brewin