Dodoma. Outgoing Deputy Speaker Job Ndugai’s bid to retain the Kongwa parliamentary seat could be derailed following a campaign scuffle that left a challenger admitted to hospital.
Campaigns in the area have been suspended because of Tuesday’s incident at Ugogoni grounds. The fracas happened when aspirants for CCM nomination convened at the venue following the party’s directive that all candidates use the same platform to campaign.
Mr Ndugai could face party sanctioning if it is proven that he indeed deliberately assaulted an opponent, Dr Joseph Chilongani. Party rules require that primary election candidates conduct their campaigns in a civil manner.
Mr Ndugai has served as the area MP for three consecutive terms, and is seeking nomination to run again amid stiff challenge posed by other CCM aspirants.
A video clip of an enraged Ndugai holding a stick was circulating on social media yesterday.
The clip apparently shows Mr Ndugai attacking the person who was recording him and is heard saying, “Hey, why are you recording me? Stop it!”
Dodoma Regional Police Commander David Misime said Dr Chilongani reported the incident at Kongwa Police Station.
“After recording his statement he was given a PF3 (Police Form 3) and is currently admitted at Kongwa District Hospital,” he said, adding that police had launched an investigation.
Reached for comment, Mr Ndugai confirmed that there was an altercation during nomination campaigns, but denied hitting anybody “with my fists”.
“It’s true such an incident happened, but I have never attacked anyone with my fists in my entire life,” he wrote in response to a text message. It was not immediately clear whether Dr Chilongani had claimed that Mr Ndugai punched him.
Acting CCM Kongwa district secretary Peter Minga, who also doubles as the party’s returning officer in the area, said there was a fracas, but quickly added that the incident had been blown out of proportion.
“What happened was not as serious as some people are trying to portray...it was a minor incident. We have postponed campaigns, and will hold a meeting after which we shall issue a statement,” he said.
Mr Minja added that police yesterday questioned several CCM officials over the incident.
Some eyewitnesses told The Citizen that Mr Ndugai attacked Dr Chilongani after he realised that the later was recording him with his mobile phone as he confronted another contestant identified only as Mr Katunga.
They said Mr Ndugai was bristling with anger after Mr Katunga accused him of lying to voters.
According to the eyewitnesses, Mr Katunga claimed that money contributed by local residents for development projects had been misused, and urged CCM members to pick him so that their money could be spent prudently.
Upon hearing this, Mr Ndugai shot up from his chair and attempted to confront Mr Katunga, but was restrained by CCM leaders.
“As some Chama Cha Mapinduzi officials tried to restrain and calm him down, Ndugai saw Chilongani recording the incident with his smart phone. He hit him with a stick and punched him, sending him sprawling to the ground,” claimed Mr Shaaban Chihimba.
The chief physician at Kongwa District Hospital, Dr Festo Mapunda, confirmed that Dr Chilongani had been admitted, but refused to give details about his condition.