Tanzania: Why ‘Team CCM’ Will Be Magufuli’s Toughest Test

Dar es Salaam - After eight months of fighting the ghosts that nearly brought the public service to its knees, President John Magufuli faces his toughest political test yet when he assumes the chairmanship of the ruling party, CCM.

On July 23, this year, former President Jakaya Kikwete, who is the current chair of Africa's longest reigning party, will hand over the office to his successor.

One would not be surprised that there is fear and uncertainty within the senior echelons of the ruling party.

By sparing no rod on even the once dreaded senior government officials, most of whom holding key positions within CCM, President Magufuli has marketed himself as an "outsider within" the party -- a reformist, if not revolutionary.

What his plans for CCM are could be anyone's guess. But wherever he ventures, the President has made his point clear on reforming the systems.

After assuming the East Africa Community (EAC) chair, he warned the regional bloc's secretariat it will not be business as usual.

CCM members must, understandably, be waiting with bated breath. However, talking to Political Platform this week, political analysts have expressed mixed feelings on whether or not President Magufuli will take the same reform "speed" to his party.

Fear of another split

Targeted assaults on known rotten apples within the party could lead to mass defections considering the long suspected disgruntlements from within over the manner in which he has booted out some well-connected CCM cadres from his government.

"He will definitely have a hard time dealing with the party after assuming chairmanship. Any radical clean-up campaign will come at a cost," says Richard Mbunda, a University of Dar es Salaam lecturer in the Political Science and Good Governance Department.

He adds: "The President would want to give birth to a new CCM, and restore the trust many Tanzanians used to have in the party, but there is also a possibility that the cleansing might result in a major split that can ultimately weaken the party."

Corruption and youth

According to Mr Mbunda, one thing which will put Dr Magufuli at loggerheads with many people within CCM is unshackling the hold on the party some politically-connected businessmen have.

"They finance the party hoping for personal favours. There are many such members at all levels of CCM. It becomes very difficult to deal with such people if they are involved, for example, in tax evasion," says the UDSM lecturer.

This remains to be seen considering the fact that at his first meeting with the business community, President Magufuli told them he received no funding from any of them for his campaigns. At the State House meeting early this year, he dared any businessman who felt he contributed to his campaign to come forward and declare how much he offered.


Prof Penina Mlama, chairperson of the Mwalimu Nyerere Professorial Chair at the University of Dar es Salaam, says among the serious challenges which Dr Magufuli is likely to face as he takes leadership of the oldest party in the country, selling the brand CCM by mkaing the party's ideology appealing again.

Prof Mlama says: "Since the death of socialism and education for self reliance policy, people have difficulties understanding what kind of ideology the ruling party pursues.

"There are some people who preach that CCM is still a socialist party, but if you look at what is being practised, it is difficult to associate the party with socialism. They tell us that it is modern socialism, but they don't explain to us what modern socialism is or what it entails."

She also points out that he will have to grapple with ethics in the CCM leadership saying currently there are no clear and consistent principles on the qualities of a leader.

"For instance, we have witnessed in the past two party nomination processess for the party's presidential candidates that the CCM comes up with a new criteria in the blink of an eye as long as it suits particular interests at a given time, and that is very dangerous," she says.

Time for change

But there are others who believe the challenges notwithstanding, Dr Magufuli will be able to turn around the party, and align it with his governance principles. Prof George Shumbusho of Mzumbe University says given what he has done and achieved in the government, Dr Magufuli will not fail to change the ruling party.

"Dr Magufuli knew after winning the presidency that one day he will become the party national chairman. He has already indicated that there are many things within the party that need reform. I am sure he has a plan on how he is going to restructure the party," he says.

He adds that because Dr Magufuli has already spelt out his leadership style, people within CCM have already got the message and those who think that they would not be able to work with Dr Magufuli, would have no option but to pave the way for other people.

"People should not be worried that some CCM members will ditch the party enmasse because President Magufuli has taken the party leadership. If there was anyone who wanted to leave he would have done so during last year's elections," says Prof Shumbusho.

Fear of the unknown

But despite this assurance, many people within and outside the party are not sure what kind of changes Dr Magufuli would institute once he takes over party leadership. It is known that a new chairman is supposed to pick his secretariat and central committee.

With the current secretary general, Mr Abdulrahman Kinana, said to be on his way out, people are now worried who Dr Magufuli is going to trust for the most important post.

Those who love the party see the post as crucial given the work which has been done by Mr Kinana who changed the party tremendously and helped it to weather the growing opposition in general Election.

Mr Emmanuel Mallya, the head of the Political Science department at Open University of Tanzania (OUT), notes that whatever the team Dr Magufuli is going to pick, it all depends on what systems the new leader will institute in running the party.

Mr Mallya notes for instance that it is not bad for businessmen to finance the party but what is needed is openness in doing so. "There is no denying that there are big businessmen among CCM members. If members are supposed to contribute for their party it is not bad for a businessmen who is a member to contribute."

Source: The Citizen