With less than two days to the symbolic handover of the ruling party chairmanship to President John Magufuli, a group of the party's membership claimed yesterday there was a plot to block smooth transition on Saturday.
Addressing a press conference in Dodoma, the group comprising youthful members claimed senior members of the party who were unhappy with President Magufuli were behind the alleged plot.
"We have received impeccable information from our source in the party's top organs that some influential cadres have hatched a plan to stop the ascendancy of Dr Magufuli to the position of chairman. They will plant their supporters to demand that CCM split the position of its leader from that of the President," said Mr David Saire.
Mr Saire, who introduced himself as the chairman of the "CCM Youth Patriots", named those they accused of planning treachery against the President. He revealed the names of mostly long-serving party loyalists and some candidates who were defeated by Dr Magufuli for the race to land the CCM ticket for the presidency, including some who have been appointed to several government positions.
The Citizen has kept the names under wraps because the group that spoke in Dodoma did not produce tangible evidence to prove their claims. The group also does not also belong to the established CCM organs. Efforts to reach hose named yesterday for comment were also futile by the time of filing this report.
The Dodoma outburst nevertheless point to the underground disquiet in the party as it prepares for an extra-ordinary general meeting on Saturday where former president Jakaya Kikwete will relinquish the chairman post.
Dr Magufuli is the only candidate whose name has been put out to succeed Mr Kikwete in the post in accordance with the ruling party's tradition of letting the President also double as its chairman. In the past, some individuals would express interest to run for the post but the exercise usually ended with an overwhelming endorsement for the sitting president.
Yesterday, the outgoing CCM Secretary-General, Mr Abdulrahman Kinana, immediately dismissed the claims by the said CCM group as baseless and a futile attempt to court mischief.
In an interview with The Citizen from Dodoma, Mr Kinana who inspected the venue of the mammoth meeting said he was not aware of any such plot and assured the nation that Mr Kikwete will hand over the baton to President Magufuli as planned.
"As secretary-general, I can tell you that we have well established structures that should have alerted me of any attempt to derail our meeting... .up to now there is nothing like that and those making the claims are merely seeking attention," said Mr Kinana.
He explained that Mr Kikwete already put in a request to vacate the position for the incoming boss, the reason why the meeting was called. "Preparations are 99 per cent complete and almost all delegates have confirmed participation." President Magufuli is already in Dodoma and yesterday held officials talks with the President of Exim Bank of China at Chamwino State Lodge.
CCM is due to hold its intra-party elections in 2017 and talks of a prolonged stay in office by Mr Kikwete until then have been rife since Dr Magufuli was sworn in as President. Claims of a campaign to separate the two top posts have also been on and off but usually emerge during the few months leading a handover, usually done immediately a new country's chief executive was elected.
Proponents of the movement to separate the Presidency from the CCM chairmanship have done so every time there was a nomination race for the ticket for the presidency as a means to throw rivals off balance.
It was loudly evident during Mr Kikwete's campaign for a second term in office, and was thought to come from a large section of the party who were firmly behind former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa who has since left the party and joined the opposition under whose ticket he mounted a serious stab at the presidency but lost to Dr Magufuli.
Political analysts say this time round, those in CCM propagating the same message were those who feared the unknown. A section of the membership have questioned Dr Magufuli's lack of a strong party base or credential to assume the powerful post of chairman. Until his election as President, Dr Magufuli had not held any party position and rivals, even during the campaign for the presidency pointed to that as a weakness.
The President's ongoing crackdown against mega corruption and tax cheats is also thought to be the reason why some quarters in the party was anxious. It is an open secret that the ruling party has harboured some of the most powerful business cartels in the country over the years who profiteered by virtue of their positions in the party hierarchy. Dr Magufuli has openly declared that some people in CCM only campaigned for him with hope that they would get opportunity to do business with the government. "They knew I would be one of them! I will not...I would rather go and look after cattle than be called the President," he declared recently during an address to contractors. At the Dodoma press conference, Mr Saire led 50 members of the group to declare that they have set parallel means to ensure Dr Magufuli becomes the new CCM chairman.
"We know a well-financed group has been going around the country to bribe delegates not to vote for Dr Magufuli. They have been lined up to also push for a vote whether the party should retain the current arrangement where the President doubles as the chairman," he said, pointing to their specially printed T-shirts with messages to back the President.
However Mr Kinana said the delegates would vote overwhelmingly for the President to steer the party and pledged his support as outgoing Secretary General.
Source: The Citizen.