REFLECTIONS ON CCM’s 40th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS:Regarding Chairman Magufuli’s performance in bringing change

Pius Msekwa

WE are approaching the end of the month of February, 2017. The big public event which occurred during this month, was the ruling Party’s celebrations to mark its 40th birthday anniversary.

In these circumstances, I believe it is not yet too late for me to offer congratulations to all our readers who are CCM members, on that auspicious occasion. Auspicious indeed because CCM has also been the country’s ruling party for all these 40 years.

But I think it is important for CCM members to also recognize the fact that during the first 15 years of those 40 years, CCM was the ruling Party merely by virtue of a constitutional fiat, that is to say, a condition imposed by the country’s Constitution.

For this was the period of the One- Party system of governance (1977 to 1995). In other words, there was no effort whatsoever required on the part of CCM, to work hard in order to win the right to form the Government of the day, since that right was granted automatically by the country’s Constitution.

It only became necessary for CCM to actually put in some work in order to get that right of becoming the ruling Party, starting from the year 1995, when it became obliged to compete against other political parties in order to win the people’s mandate to become the ruling party.

Hence, while they rightly celebrated their 40 years of being the ruling Party, they must not lose sight of their continuing obligation to work hard in order to win future general elections; as that is the only option which will enable them to remain in power.

Chairman Magufuli’s performance. One other matter which, I believe, is worth reflecting upon in connection with these celebrations, is that of President John Magufuli’s performance, in his capacity as national Chairman of Chama cha Mapinduzi .

This is indeed worthwhile because, as many of our readers will probably remember, Dr Magufuli’s major promise during his Presidential election campaign meetings, was “to bring change”, namely the kind of change which he himself described in Kiswahili as “Mabadiliko yenye Tija”, implying that his envisaged changes were going to be ‘substantive changes’, and not mere ‘cosmetic changes’.

These CCM anniversary celebrations have presented a most appropriate opportunity for us to reflect on Chairman Magufuli’s performance so far, and in relation thereto. Revisiting Magufuli’s promise to ‘ bring change’.

Soviet statesman Nikita Kruschev (1894 – 1971), is on record as having said that “Politicians are the same everywhere, they promise to build bridges even where there are no rivers”! Fortunately, in that particular respect, Presidential candidate Dr John Magufuli did not make any such weird promises.

He wisely only promised to bring real, substantive changes. “Mabadiliko yenye tija”. I am not sure whether everyone still remembers the particular occasion when, in the course of his Presidential campaign speech in Kigoma on 16th September, 2015; the CCM Presidential candidate Dr John Pombe Magufuli said, (obviously with a touch of humour), that the acronym “M4C” actually stands for “Magufuli for Change”.

He must have been joking because the acronym ‘M4C’, stands for “Movement for Change”, a slogan which had been invented by the CHADEMA political party in 2012, and carefully orchestrated so as to attract maximum publicity.

When subsequently CHADEMA invited other opposition parties to join the said ‘Movement for Change’, it changed its name to ‘UKAWA’, whose declared sole objective was ‘to remove CCM from power’ during the 2015 general elections.

On his part, CCM Presidential candidate Dr John Magufuli, also chose the same strategy of campaigning on the similar promise of “bringing Change”.

This is what makes it worthwhile to reflect on his performance as national Chairman of CCM, in order to see whether or not, he is ‘walking his talk’, i.e. whether he is faithfully implementing his promise “to bring real Change” in Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), as its new national Chairman. The difference between Magufuli’s notion of ‘change’, and that of UKAWA.

Regarding this matter of promising to ‘bringing change, there was a vast difference between Magufuli’s notion of “change”, and that of his opponents. ’UKAWA’s contention was that “meaningful Change could only be brought about by changing the ruling party, i.e. removing CCM from power and substituting for it the UKAWA coalition of Opposition political parties”; while Dr Magufuli’s firm position was that it is certainly possible to achieve substantive policy changes by only changing the top national leadership of the same ruling party, without having to remove it from power.

In an article which I wrote for this column at that time, I fully supported the point of view that significant major changes of policy can indeed be made by a different leader at the helm of the same ruling party. And I went on to provide evidence to show that this has in fact happened before, in our country’s history.

I cited the following two well known examples. One was when the then CCM national Chairman, President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, successfully introduced major changes to the ‘leadership code of ethics’, which is enshrined in the Arusha Declaration.

CCM Chairman Mwinyi did so through what is commonly referred to as ‘the Zanzibar resolution’ of 1991, which was adopted by CCM’s National Executive Committee (NEC), over which he presided.

It should be noted that this is the same organ (NEC), which had adopted the Arusha Declaration in 1967. The only difference being that the Party’s NEC was now operating under a different leader, Chairman Ali Hassan Mwinyi.

This so called ‘Zanzibar resolution’ would have been unthinkable under his immediate predecessor, CCM Chairman Mwalimu Julius Nyerere! The other example is that of President Amani Abeid Karume of Zanzibar, who was able to bring about a major change in the governance of Zanzibar, when he facilitated the introduction of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in Zanzibar immediately following the 2010 general elections.

Again, this would have been unthinkable under his immediate predecessor, Dr Salmin Amour of the same party, CCM. In my humble opinion, these examples serve to confirm the view that a change in the top leadership of the same ruling party, can indeed be a sufficient catalyst for major policy changes to be achieved, without having to change the ruling party itself by removing it from power! President Magufuli’s performance in bringing change.

Many of our readers are presumably aware, that within only one month in office as President of the United Republic, President John Magufuli had proved beyond reasonable doubt, that he can indeed ‘walk his talk’; for he had already demonstrated that fact to the admiration and delight, not only of the Tanzanians who elected him, but also of a large section of the international community, for he had also received substantial global recognition and approval, for his unprecedented performance in bringing the promised change .

This is readily confirmed by many of the media reports which were published at that time, with headlines like “Magufuli style wins the hearts of Africa” (Daily News, 9/12/2016); with the story that “President Magufuli has become a continental icon with just a month in office, without even crossing the country’s borders”; and reproduced captions of leading Newspapers in South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, all of them showering praise on President Magufuli’s exemplary performance.

You could call it “Magufuli philia”. But our focus today is on President Magufuli’s promise to ‘bring change’ to CCM, in his capacity as its national Chairman. This is discussed in the paragraphs below. CCM Chairman Magufuli’s performance in bringing change to the Party.

When President Magufuli was elected national Chairman of Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) on 23rd July 2016, or soon thereafter, he spoke passionately about the weaknesses now existing within the Party , whose status as the ruling Party should make it a role model, and vowed to confront these weaknesses absolutely head- on.

The initial visible changes. President John Magufuli had been in office as national Chairman of CCM for less than six months when, on 13th December, 2016, he chaired a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of CCM, at which he made his debut in the matter of ‘bringing change’, or in his own words, ‘kuleta maendeleo yenye tija’ , relating to Chama cha Mapinduzi. That meeting made some huge, surgical changes to the Party’s organisational structure and operations.

These were very positive and welcome changes which, in my humble opinion, were both necessary and timely. Necessary because the previous structure had become outdated, and therefore largely unsuitable, primarily because it was designed during the period of the One-Party system of governance, i.e. a period when CCM had completely different tasks to perform.

For example, the One- Party State Constitution of the United Republic had a provision in it, which stipulated that “All political activities shall be conducted by, or under the auspices of the Party”.

The tasks covered by this provision were totally different from those of the same Ruling Party under the current multiparty system, whereby the Party’s tasks are limited, in the words of the CCM Constitution, to the “struggle to win elections, with a view to forming the Government”.

And they were timely because the Party had just acquired a new leader at the national level, who was firmly determined “to bring change”. Re-styling the annual CCM birthday celebrations. His second visible change came about at the time of the recent 40th anniversary celebrations; when he decided to changed the manner, and style, of celebrating these annual events.

Whereas in the past, we were used to seeing all the national CCM and Government leaders assembling at a designated Regional location to attend such celebrations‘ at the national level; it was totally different this year (the first such celebration under Dr. Magufuli’s Chairmanship), when there were no celebrations held at the national level.

This was because he decided and directed that these celebrations be held closer to the people countrywide, at the lowest Party levels, namely the Party Branches, in all the Regions and Districts. Kwa hakika, ni mabadiliko yenye tija.

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