TO all account, and by and large, the just ended Congress of the ruling party here; Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) was quite impressive.
For those who were in Dodoma and those who watched the proceedings of the Congress being broadcast live by mainstream TV stations here early this week were certainly impressed by the excellent organization and democratic manner the topmost body of the 40-year old ruling party of this country was conducted. Here is a political party, which could be described as unique in Africa. It has had a democratic succession of leaders over the last half a century.
It has also run the country in democratic succession without a drop of blood. Save for the founder Chairman of this party, Mwalimu Nyerere who peacefully passed away in 1999 after retirement, this time around one could see all leaders at the high table-who succeeded Mwalimu Nyerere in democratic succession.
These were second-phase Chairman and President, Mzee Alli Hassan Mwinyi, third-phase Party Chairman and President, Benjamin Mkapa and fourth-phase party leader and President, Jakaya Kikwete.
Clearly, this is a unique phenomenon- specifically here in Africa-where we have a long way to go to achieve constitutional democratic succession. But how has Tanzania managed this where others have failed?
Clearly the answer could be gleaned from the just ended ruling party Congress. Also inspiring to see were the guests who graced the Congress from foreign countries mainly from neighboring countries whose political parties Tanzania, under its ruling party CCM had roundly supported in their respective liberation struggle against minority rule and apartheid.
Worth mentioning also was the presence of Ambassador Wang Ke of the Peoples Republic of China whose ruling party, the Communist Party of China has been very close to Tanzania’s ruling party since the days of Chairman Mao and Mwalimu Nyerere.
I am sure, the first ever Chinese lady Ambassador to Tanzania, Madam Wang Ke, must have been highly impressed with the democratic proceedings of the Congress of the Tanzanian ruling Party, CCM. Both the Communist Party of China and CCM in Tanzania are rooted in the respective countries quest for national unity.
This factor was clearly reflected in the vote to achieve a new National Executive Committee and Central Committee of the party, which went on peacefully and democratically. Most dramatic was the vote to secure a new Party Chairman. Standing up for nomination for the position of Party Chairman, President Magufuli was elected Chairman of the Party with an overwhelming 100 percent vote in his favor.
Speaking immediately after he was declared Party Chairman, President Magufuli asked all leaders to remain loyal to the Party, pledging to work with fellow elected leaders to ensure the Party moved forward. “Party leaders should work towards the interests of the under-privileged in our society,” said the Party Chairman.
Now that we have a new Party leadership in place, it is crucially important to suggest the way forward for this party. As suggested before in this column what most people are waiting to hear now is whether this party, one of the oldest in Africa is destined for a rebirth of its erstwhile wellknown ideology and grassroot outreach.
For, in the intervening period, this party seems to have been operating like a football club, reviving for exercises only when a next match is imminent, and in this context, only when new elections are inevitable! In a competitive multiparty rule as existing in this country today, it is most urgent for a political party especially the ruling party to have its eyes and ears on the ground; swimming with the people as fish does in the sea.
For those belonging to the old generation in this country, the old CCM chaired by founder President Dr Julius Nyerere was always most active with its central and executive committees; making periodical reviews on the social-economic landscape existing in the country and coming up with “wake-up” calls for its rank and file and the people generally.
During that time, we were able to see and read party documents titled “party guidelines” on the social-economic and political direction of the country. Were one to imagine the old good days with what is happening today, already the party should be waving a guideline document dubbed: ‘HAPA KAZI TU’ –it is only hard work here- promoting the vision of its new Party Chairman!
This party was founded on a firm ideology, namely Socialism and Selfreliance. It was also imbued with this motto from the word go: “the independence of this country is meaningless without the total liberation of Africa”.
As I am writing, and if you are a parent, you must be wondering what to do with your sons and daughters who have completed schooling and even some training but are rotting at the house with no where to go or no hope at all to win jobs! You may agree this situation is the consequence of the privatization agenda we swallowed hook, bait and sinker thrown to us by western powers via the IMF during the third phase Government.
Full-fledged capitalism is both inhumane and beastly –as we must have realized by now. You cannot oblige private firms to employ people nor oblige them to handle workers in a humane way. You are hired by word of mouth and fired accordingly by word of mouth. This is capitalism! And we have massive unemployment in this country.
The method of tilling land has not changed either; it is still the hand hoe. And urban areas are full of young people, some of whom we see hawking this and that, making us wonder whether they are really able to eke a single decent meal a day. In short we have become a nation of petty traders.
At this point, this is the concrete situation on the ground in this country today. What follows now is to offer some pieces of advice to the ruling party-CCM–which Party most of us feel safe in its hands-as we have survived reasonably well over half a century on under its leadership. My well-considered advice is: the ruling party, CCM, should pursue its original agenda of concern for the majority poor of this country.
This should be done consistently. The Party should strive to narrow the gap between the filthily rich of this country and the majority poor. This is the concern of the new Chairman as we have seen in the course of this perspective as he addressed the just ended Party Congress. Any party anywhere has an ideology. What is wrong with the original ideology of this party–UJAMAA –Socialism with self-reliance-as its backbone?
After all, the literal translation of the word, ‘Ujamaa’ in Kiswahili is “Udugu” (Fraternity). What is wrong with this? Already, the ruling Party Chairman today, Ndugu John Magufuli has an agenda to industrialize this country.
This suits in well with his clarion call for hard work all the time–“Hapa Kazi tu”. So the way forward for the ruling party now is to go back to its roots, revive the party’s ideology within the context of Tanzania’s social economic characteristics.
The party’s organs, from the new Central Committee to the National Executive Committee should meet regularly to review the social-economic pace of the country, supported by its grass-root network across the country. It should not appear to come to life when elections are around the corner.