Dar es Salaam. The late veteran politician John John Guninita, who passed away last Thursday can provide a lesson to many Tanzanians that under multiparty democracy, which is very young the tendency to defect from the ruling party to the opposition is not a sin but an important political attitude in the matrix of power struggles.
The outspoken veteran politician who survived turbulent politics within CCM and Chadema after he had recently rejoined the ruling party from the opposition after three defections. The younger brother of the late Guninita, Gerald Guninita, told The Citizen last Thursday that his brother started politics at a tender age and managed to climb to national leadership positions under CCM as the National CCM-Youth Wing chairman, District Commissioner for Kigoma and Rufijji, Member of executive committee of CCM, and member of central committee of CCM before defections to the opposition.
It is important to note that power struggles and the thirst for power and authority started from his childhood as he was leading a community of Young Pioneers.
“My brother started political activities with the then Tanganyika National Union when he was a Tanu Young Pioneer during Primary School days in the 1970s,” says Gerald.
When he lost top leadership (Chairman of CCM Youth Wing) during the second phase government, he still struggled to fill the power vacuum in him. The late father of the nation was against the youth wing on the grounds that it supported one presidential candidate, Jakaya Kikwete.
Kikwete who contested the presidency in 1995 lost in the influential power politics against Mwalimu Nyerere during the dawn of multiparty politics after the introduction of political party Act of 1992.
Although Kikwete won in the first round of contest under CCM nomination polls, beating Ben Mkapa and Cleopa Msuya, Nyerere stood up and announced a rerun of the intraparty polls on the grounds that there was no majority winner and it was against party tradition.
The council of youth wing was dissolved in 1994. The three defections by the politician signify that the level playing field in the country’s political system is yet to be nurtured. In other words there is no institutionalised multiparty politics in the country.
Some political scientists, notably Prof Max Mmuya in his book titled: Tanzania Political Reforms in Eclipse; Crises and Cleavages, says there is a long journey for the country to build multiparty politics, which is undergoing a parabolic path. He uses mathematical language to describe Tanzania’s political behaviour and a road to democracy.
The mathematic concept of Parabola means the journey starts with much vigour and jubilations, but after a certain period there is a low political tide for the newly formed parties. It took two centuries for industrial nations such as the United States, UK, Germany, France and others to nurture multiparty politics.
Sometimes crossovers alone could not survive. They ended up in civil disobedience, political upheavals and bloodshed when industrial nations were in the process of building the current state of democracy.
This implies that banning defections is not an answer, but undergoing the process of building national consensus or well defined national interests with agreed political norms of the country is the practical answer.
It is also important to note that Guninita was not alone to engage in crossovers; other political figures like Augustine Lyatonga Mrema, Mr Makongoro Nyerere, the late Gibbons Mwaikambo, Dr Makongoro Mahanga, the late Kingunge Ngombale-Mwiru and several others also did so.
When crossovers are legislated, their costs are not easily met.
The last defection from Chadema by Guninita was similar to several others that were aimed at restoring their lost political status. In his 60 years of political life, the late Guninita spent at least 50 years in covert and active politicking.
Born in 1958 at Impanko in Mahenge town, Gininita went to Kichangani Primary School in Kilosa District and completed primary education in the 1970s before joining the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) in the same period, according to his brother.
“Apart from military training he acquired secondary education and political training at the Artillery Military Training College in Arusha between 1976 and 1978,” says his brother.
According him, the late Guninita also participated in the famous war against Ugandan dictator Iddi Amin between 1978 and 1979 before rejoining TPDF as a political education officer. He was also a family man who loved his children and those of his relatives, according to his close associates.
Experience also showed that through his life the late Guninita loved to work with a vibrant media, including Mwananchi, The Citizen and others.
He has left a widow, Mary, two daughters and three sons; Kelvin, Kennedy, Josephine, Lightness and Thomson.
Gerald also said former President Jakaya Kikwete had only sent a message of condolence, as he was still busy with his recent United States tour. The body of the late veteran politician John Guninita was moved from the Munimbili National Hospital (MNH) to Ifakara where the burial ceremony will take place.
On Friday, the younger brother of the deceased, Mr Gerald Guninita, revealed that they had decided to transport the body of his late brother to Ifakara for burial today.
Former President Kikwete, who was on an official tour of the US, had sent his message of condolences to Guninita’s family, according to Gerald.
While he was at MNH a number of retired politicians, including from the rulling party CCM visited the late Guninita. Former President Jakaya Kikwete who was very close to the deceased also visited him at MNH, according the younger brother of the deceased who was also a CCM cadre and district commissioner.
The late veteran politician who died in the morning of Thursday was hospitalised at the MNH for more than a month. He said that the late Guninita was admitted to the MNH on August 10 this year suffering from a long illness. He was operated by the MNH surgeons on 28th of last month, according to Gerald.
“We as relatives were struggling to rescue his life from ailing health but ended up in vain. We wanted to mobilise funds for more curative services in India but unfortunately he passed away after undergoing operations,” said the young brother of the deceased.
One of the younger relatives of the late Guninita from his wife’s side, Ms Neema Molel, said that she would not forget the late Guninita due his charming behavior, kindness and friendly manner in all his family activities.
Interestingly the late Guninita who at one time was a strong CCM cadre later on in 2015 General Election waged strong campaigns against the same ruling party in all constituencies of Kilombero District in Morogoro Region.