THE heading for this article was also the heading of the lead news item on the front page of the ‘Daily News’ of Monday, 13th March, 2017. ‘Sweeping reforms’.
Yes indeed they were! The Daily News continued as follows: “The Ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) yesterday endorsed sweeping reforms.
The major changes following the constitutional amendments include the introduction of one-person-one post system; the reduction of the number of members in the Party’s top organs; and the abolition of unconstitutional leadership positions.
Before these changes, the National Executive Committee (NEC) had 388 members, who have been trimmed to 163; while the Central Committee had its members reduced to 24 from the previous 34.
Other reforms include the prohibition of holding multi-leadership positions within the Party by introducing the one-person-one leadership position system. Before these reforms, CCM members were free to hold as many leadership positions as they could, both within the Party and the Government.
The frequency of meetings of CCM organs at all levels has also been reduced. Under the amended Party Constitution, the National Executive Committee will be holding its regular meetings twice a year, down from the previous three times a year”.
These were timely and necessary reforms In fact, such positive organisational changes are always necessary, and indeed inevitable, for any decent organisation which is functioning properly.
Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), is certainly one such decent organisation; and that is the reason why it has, from time to time over many years, been making similar reforms; the latest being the drastic changes which were made at the level of the National Executive Committee in April, 2011.
The 2011 changes were described in Kiswahili as “kujivua Gamba” (shedding the skin), as some snakes normally do.
However, the recent ‘sweeping’ and surgical changes which were made on 12th March, 2017, by the Party’s supreme decisionmaking organ, the National Congress, at its extra-ordinary meeting held specifically for that purpose under the Chairmanship of the new CCM Chairman, President John Magufuli, were not only timely, but were also absolutely necessary, and indeed most welcome changes; whose cumulative effect is to correct some glaring mistakes which had been made by CCM at various stages in the past, purportedly for the object of “Kuimarisha Chama” (strengthening the Party).
As will be shown in the paragraphs which follow below, it all started with the adoption of the CCM Guidelines of 1981.
The CCM Guidelines of 1981 It must first be acknowledged that the March 2017 reforms were taken strictly in accordance with the CCM doctrine of ‘self-criticism and self-correction’; which is rendered in Kiswahili as “ kujikosoa na kukosoana”, and is to be found in the CCM Guidelines of 1981, (titled in Kiswahili as ‘Mwongozo wa CCM wa 1981’).
Paragraphs 58 to 60 of that Mwongozo provide separately as follows: “kuna mambo kadhaa ambayo ni muhimu kuyazingatia. La kwanza linahusu suala la kukosoa, kujikosoa, na kukosoana, kama njia ya kukijenga na kukiimarisha Chama na wanachama wake . . . Chama chenyewe, katika vikao vyake vya ngazi mbali mbali, inabidi kiwe na utaratibu wa kujikosoa; na maana halisi ya Kujikosoa kama Chama, ni kuwa na utaratibu wa mara kwa mara kurudia kuyaangalia upya maamuzi ya nyuma, na ikionekana kuwa kuna makosa yalifanyika, basi ni muhimu kuchukua hatua za kuyarekebisha”.
The action taken by the CCM National Congress on 12th March 2017, of amending the Party’s Constitution in order to accommodate the said ‘sweeping’ reforms (which had been recommended by its National Executive Committee at its meeting held on December 13th) were, basically, an exercise in ‘self-criticism and self-correction’, as is required by the 1981 Mwongozo paragraphs quoted above.
The previous structure was unsuitable In view of the vastly changed political circumstances resulting from the re-introduction of multiparty politics, the previous CCM organisational structure had become outdated and largely unsuitable, primarily because it had been designed in circumstances which were totally different from those of the current period.
And that was precisely the root cause of the previous structure’s unsuitability for operating in the present environment.
This was so because the previous structure was crafted during the period of the One-Party political system, when the Party was operating under the slogan of “Chama kushika Hatamu”.
Significantly, this slogan was also recognised, and actually sanctioned, by the country’s Constitution, which included a provision which said that “All political activities (in the country) shall be conducted by, or under the auspices, of the Party”.
Hence, under the inevitable influence of those monopolistic circumstances, the desire to expand the membership of the party decision-making organs, and to increase the frequency of its meetings, becomes readily understandable.
The decision makers at that time (I was one of them) were focusing on two important matters, namely : (a) The need to involve the largest possible number of party members in its formal meetings at all levels.
It is in order to achieve this objective that the membership sizes of all the Party organs were greatly expanded at all the relevant levels. (b) The desire to achieve uniformity, or perhaps similarity, between the structures of the Party and those of the Government organs; and in particular, to achieve similarity between the Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and its Central Committee (CC); with the corresponding Government Institutions of the National Assembly and the Cabinet of Ministers.
Thus, for example, just because Ministers are appointed only from among the Members of the National Assembly, then similarly, members of the Central Committee should be appointed only from among the Members of the National Executive Committee.
Hence, in order to provide a large enough pool of candidates for appointment as Members of the Central Committee, the size of the National Executive Committee was vastly expanded, (through Constitutional amendments which were made by the Party’s National Congress ordinary meeting held in 1982, when an entirely new category of ‘Ninety members’ was enthusiastically added.
This new category was intended to provide a large enough pool of persons from among whom appointments could be made, not only of Central Committee members, but, it was so decided, also of the Regional Party Secretaries, who were also being appointed only from among the members of NEC.
The frequency of its meetings was also increased to three times a year, up from the previous two times a year.
In addition, there were various other measures which were taken in order to achieve similarity between the organs of State and those of the Party. The most prominent among these other measures, was the creation of the ‘Party Secretariat’, which was designed to be the equivalent of the Government Cabinet Secretariat.
The cost of servicing this expanded size of the National Executive Committee, (in terms of increased numbers of members, and increased frequencies of its meetings) was, apparently, given no consideration at all.
This organisational structure of the Party which was crafted at the time of the CCM Guidelines, continued to function during the entire post- CCM Guidelines period, but was further reinforced by the 2011 changes, which were made at the National Executive Committee level (code named ‘kujivua gamba’).
It is the 2011 changes which drastically raised the number of members of the National Executive Committee to a staggering 388 members, whereby one member was required to be elected from each and every administrative District in the country.
The difficulties created by the 2011 changes The said changes were of course made in absolute good faith. The vast expansion of the membership of the National Executive Committee to 388 members was cogently explained that previously, the national leadership of the party,( that is to say, the members of the National Executive Committee), were too far removed from the ordinary members of the Party, thus making it difficult, or even impossible, for them to carry out the desirable and essential day to day contacts and interaction between them and the ordinary members of the Party.
Thus, it was argued, that having such NEC members elected at the District level, would provide the required solution to this problem in two ways.
One was that this arrangement would bring the national party leaders much closer to the ordinary party members; and the other was that it would also make it possible for a much larger number of ordinary Party members to participate in the decision-making processes of the party at the national level, through their membership of NEC.
It may be remembered that this was one of the main objectives of the 1981 CCM Guidelines, which was stated under the section titled “Kuimarisha muundo wa Chama”.
However, those good intentions notwithstanding, the huge increase in the number of members of NEC produced some totally unintended negative results, including the fact that a substantial number of these ‘District members’ of the National Executive Committee, instead of doing what they were expected to do, they started engaging themselves in campaigning for membership of Parliament in constituents which were conveniently situated in their respective districts, thus creating inevitable conflicts with the incumbent MPs.
But in addition, there were other problems. For example, there was the question of the high costs involved in servicing the meetings of the vastly expanded National Executive Committee, which was required by the CCM Constitution to hold a regular meeting “at least once in every four months”.
Furthermore, it is also claimed that because of the large number of its members, it had become very difficult to maintain secrecy of its proceedings.
Appreciating the significance of the latest reforms The above background information is intended to enable the readers of this article to appreciate the huge significance of the recent bold, ‘tsunami-like’ organisational changes which have been introduced by the amended CCM Constitution.
But beyond that, we must surely also appreciate the action taken by those members of the National Executive Committee who had been elected from the districts, and those others whose positions have been abolished, for their bold action in agreeing to abolish their positions.
Their action was indeed selfless, for, if I may put it differently, what they actually did is that they ‘knowingly and willingly’ dismissed themselves from NEC, by readily consenting to the abolition of their respective NEC positions.
Their willingness to do so should be appreciated and applauded, as a clear manifestation of their selflessness.