Dar es Salaam. The wave of politicians jumping ship continued over the weekend with the ruling party, CCM, being the largest beneficiary.
On Saturday MP for Kinondoni (CUF) Maulid Mtulia announced that he was joining CCM saying he arrived at his decision out of his support for President John Magufuli’s efforts.
“My decision to resign (from CUF’s membership and MP position) and join the ruling party is a result of my desire to work for the people and I can only do that through CCM, which has shown the willingness to bring development to the people through its 2015 Manifesto,” Mtulia said in his resignation letter. His departure from CUF means that the Kinondoni constituency is vacant.
Mtulia announced his decision to join CCM a day after a popular socialite and movie star, Wema Sepetu, did the same through her Instagram account. Ms Sepetu, the daughter of a former cabinet minister, Isaack Sepetu, decamped to the main opposition party, Chadema, in February this year after she was accused by authorities of using drugs.
She was later charged at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court where the case is going on.
Ms Sepetu, who is credited with leading her fellow female artists to swing the women vote to CCM in the 2015 General Election, cited the reasons for decamping to Chadema as being “thrown under the bus by CCM in her hour of need.”
But on Friday Ms Sepetu, who won the Miss Tanzania contest in 2006, wrote on her Instagram account; ‘I can’t continue living in a house that deprives me of peace. Peace of mind is everything for me. I announce to leave Chadema and return home.”
While CCM officials said they had not received any official communication of Ms Wema’s return, Chadema official said she had not yet been granted party membership.
The weekend migration to CCM was the latest of high profile exodus of politicians from the main opposition party, Chadema, to CCM. At the CCM’s National Executive Committee meeting at the State House in Dar es Salaam on November 21 more than five politicians, including a ex-Home Affairs minister Lawrence Masha, were welcomed to CCM.
Other included Patrobas Katambi who had been Chadema’s National Youth League leader, Samson Mwigamba who had been Secretary General of ACT and Prof Kitila Mkumbo.
In earnest hundreds of opposition supporters have decamped to CCM in the last few months. In the same day that Mr Masha and others were received in CCM, Humphrey Polepole, the party secretary for Ideology and Publicist, announced that about 200 opposition politicians had asked to join the ruling party.
The exodus has, understandably, left the opposition in disarray. It comes hot on the heels of both the ban on political rallies and the wave of arrests of hundreds of opposition politicians for either holding public rally “without permission” or for “insulting the President or the government.”
And so the exodus from the opposition to the ruling party has served to confirm the impression that the current CCM’s leadership is hell bent to “destroy” the opposition.
Though there unconfirmed rumours that the ruling party intimidate some high profile opposition figures into joining the party experts are all the same flabbergasted that the mass migration of politicians from one party to another should happen this early.
The occurrence is usually most common during the election year. And it is usually either way.
In 2015 the ruling party, CCM, was the largest victim of the exodus. Politicians who lost in the primaries, led by the powerful presidential ticket contender Edward Lowassa, decamped to the opposition a few months before the General Election. Mr Lowassa went ahead to become the presidential flagbearer of Chadema and was supported by the coalition of opposition parties, Ukawa. Mr Masha had then been on the bandwagon to Chadema.