CHAMA Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), the ruling party and longest reigning party in Africa, created on 5th February 197 under the able leadership of Julius Nyerere, began the journey of presidential, legislators and councillors by allowing primaries to take place in July 2020.
The process is well underway. The process allowed a few leaders from across the CCM leadership district spectrum to decide on three best candidates to be considered for positions.
The process brought with it interesting results. I will elucidate. After nominations, the general public, including many candidates, expressed concern that the process did not reflect what is commonly known as the face of CCM, in a way that inclusively reflects the political will of all members.
It is from this gist that in recent weeks, beginning from the first nomination process, that the Kiswahili word - Wajumbe, became a buzzword, and continues to saturate the Tanzanian public square.
For the purpose of this article, the word Wajumbe shall be understood as the Chama cha Mapinduzi party members, who in whatever circumstance or peoples’ opinion, for me they neatly mapped out a route, not only for the nominations process, but for the coming general elections as well.
Wajumbe is an important word. Even though many have taken it as a simple buzzword for our time, for me the word stands for something bigger than many people could imagine.
I see it as a meaningful prophetic or rather revelatory word carrying with it a strong warning both to candidates, the electorate and all organs responsible for the October 2020 general elections. I have reasons to believe so. Interestingly, the prominence of the word has been, and continues to be discussed by many across the spectrum of our society.
Wajumbe are elected leaders, past and present, prominent local voices from our communities, young people who add voice to citizens, individuals representing major institutions and local citizens, to mention a few. Most of those who got zero, one or two votes were shocked. I know why.
It is because most of them believed that they are well known and were surrounded by people who will support their dreams, and therefore achieve success more quickly if nominated and later on elected to representative position. They were wrong.
But for others, they regarded wajumbe as challenging and negative people in the lives of candidates and in some places are still considered as enemies, something which could increase the risk of instability, division, and even conflict among members of the party. It is not supposed to be so.
Wajumbe are the people in our midst. It came as a shock to many. No wonder that is why, having forgotten the importance of the need for the party to guarantee the secrecy of the ballot and confidence of the party members and aspiring candidates, some candidates crossed the line and suggested that next time nominations should be conducted at public meetings by show of hands. I laughed.
In my view therefore, wajumbe is by and large a fitting prophetic word for 2020 elections. To clarify this proposal, I begin with what I would call the ongoing chasing of wajumbe by identifying the dark and light side of on-going party nomination activity.
I use the term chasing to show the seriousness of what happened in many places after the results were published. I mean, what we heard and read about many people pursuing wajumbe in order to catch them, and others simply to catch up with them, is something that needs to be learnt about.
Unknowingly, through peoples’ discussions on the wajumbe, be it positively or negatively, the conversation has elevated wajumbe, something which helps us to consider them as key people in the political party. More importantly, this is significant when it comes to the importance of any party in the current political arena.
My reader would know that the role of political parties in elections cannot be overstated, for they provide the most important platforms for access to political office, wajumbe being central to the functions of the current nomination procedure and process. I reiterate.
For me, wajumbe is a prophetic word in sense that it stands as a warning message. This message needs to be taken seriously as that which has involved a kind of inspiration, and if well interpreted, what happened in the primaries could be a forecast of events to come.
It calls for vigilance and attention for all parties. do not think this is a simple issue with no impact in our forthcoming general elections, no. And it is neither right to regard the discussion as simply as an agenda which speaks of the Wajumbe in crisis. Not at all. But why should one be concerned about the need for vigilance?
Well, the ongoing debate on the wajumbe is broad, and cannot be ignored. Some base their argument on whether during the nominations, CCM had the right members, enough to add value in governance and delivery as they sought to choose right candidates or not.
There are others who continue to argue that the process was not fair and inclusive, and may have had traces of corruption, driven by ignorance, motivated by division and hatred, most likely directed towards the few members of society, a clear unusual growing subjugation.
On the other side, there is a clear voice suggesting that most candidates, understood as a particular group in society, the so called educated elite, only showed up to be nominated out of their selfish desire. They say many have not been to their respective constituencies for ages.
These are accused of not being known, appearing for the first time to members and not familiar with the local people and environment. Others believe that Wajumbe decided that the socalled elites, who wanted to dominate them and seek to benefit from their ignorance, do not get through. They may be right.
Unfortunately in the debate, only a few have been fair to acknowledge the ongoing internal CCM party reforms. They have failed to remind the general public that CCM has a party code of conduct for the candidates running for party nominations, and the party was careful enough, during the development of their nomination rules and procedures, the conduct of their nominations and participation in the coming elections.
From what I have seen and learnt, the party leadership under JPM was also keen to follow other relevant laws governing political parties in relation to party nominations, and ensured that rules promote free, fair and peaceful nominations as well as the coming campaigns.
In fact the said party has a long and well established independent party nomination bodies or organs, such as committees or panels to conduct its party nominations, something which is still well underway. It is too early to judge CCM. Let us wait until the process is over.
Well, each one has a way of interpreting what the wajumbe role was during this critical process. In my view, it is good that the word wajumbe continues to grow in prominence as the election campaign nears. It is a lesson for many.
The discontent with the current system, judging from what Tanzanians see and speak about means a lot, and has its implication for the forthcoming elections because it carries with it the nomination activity ideologies in the context of 2020 elections.
I personally would wish that in everything we do, we shall all seek to ensure that Tanzanians continue to live in peace with one another, and that no one will be allowed to weaponize identity and division for the sake of selfish and corrupt interest, something which is dangerous and could drive us apart.
It is my hope therefore that all political parties will find this word wajumbe and the weight it carries to be a helpful prophetic tool to help promote democratic, free, fair, transparent, accountable, inclusive and participatory, non-discriminative, credible and peaceful elections, both for the ongoing internal party nomination processes and the coming 2020 general elections.
Dr Alfred Sebahene, PhD Social Ethics Specialist and Anti-Corruption Consultant St John’s Unive rsity of Tanzania Dodoma, Tanzania Email Addresses: arsebahene2@ yahoo.c o.u k, alfredsebahene@ g mail. com