Sunday, March 12, 2017

JPM hits out at critics over party changes

CCM Chairman President John Magufuli addresses

CCM Chairman President John Magufuli addresses National Executive Committee meeting in Dodoma yesterday. From left are CCM Vice chairman for Zanzibar, President Ali Mohamed Shein; the party Secretary General, Mr Abdulrhaman Kinana; and the CCM Vice chairman for Mainland, Mr Philip Mangula. PHOTO | EDWIN MJWAHUZI 

By Peter Nyanje @pnyanje

Dodoma. The CCM chairman, President John Magufuli, yesterday robustly defended the party’s proposals for changes.

He lashed out at those who were criticising them, saying they should focus on strengthening the party.

Opening the CCM National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting here, Dr Magufuli said changes in big institutions were common all over the world.

“We should think of our party’s interests… Some people are critical about the removal of regional secretaries from NEC. The secretaries are just employees. Those who want to be NEC members, they should vie for chairmanship,” he said.

“A number of secretaries were here when some NEC members chanted in front of the past chairman that they trusted somebody and they [secretaries[ did not do anything. Why didn’t they fight for the chairman and their party?”

Dr Magufuli said while some were embracing a situation where the CCM NEC has more than 350 members, a ruling party in China, whose population exceeds one billion, has only 205 members in its NEC and South Africa’s African National Congress has only 110 NEC members.

CCM wants to reduce number of NEC members to 163.

“There is no cause for alarm. The proposed changes are a normal thing to giant institutions like ours,” he said.

Dr Magufuli said since the proposals were made in December last year and NEC discussed them on December 13 at the State House in Dar es Salaam, he did not expect them to be debated for a long time.

He said people should not be worried about losing posts because “the government has a lot of posts… and I have already picked some NEC members to other posts.”

He insisted that it would be better to leave NEC members with few obligations to strengthen the party.

He noted, for instance, that during the last election, 85 members who vied for Parliament seats were also elected as NEC members. He wondered how they could serve their constituencies and the party efficiently.

Meanwhile, unlike in previous party meetings, there were no pomp and pageantry yesterday as they had been banned.

The CCM headquarters ,which used to a beehive of activities, with hundreds of supporters and members flocking, was a no-gone area yesterday.

Security was tight and entry into the CCM offices was for only selected few. Even those who were allowed to enter, including Central Committee (CC) and NEC members as well as journalists, were not allowed to enter with their mobile phones in the conference hall.

Some ministers who are CC members were taken aback when they were asked to leave their mobile phones before entering the hall. Some of them preferred to give the phones to their assistants rather than leaving them with security guards.

Security was also heightened around CCM buildings with some police officers on roofs of some buildings around the ruling party headquarters.

Some CCM members roughed up Chadema Special Seats MP Kunti Majala who passed in a car near the ruling party headquarters.

CCM members who were outside the building stopped her car when it made a third passing and they started beating passengers before three policemen arrived at the scene to rescue them. They were all Chadema members. The party’s former regional secretary Steven Massawe was driving the car.

It could not be established immediately where the MP was taken to by the law enforcers after a scuffle outside the CCM offices gate.