As fate would have it, it seems the chairman of the Civic United Front (CUF), Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, and his secretary general Seif Sharriff Hamad are hell-bent to destroy the party, and destabilise the opposition in general. This is because the duo seems to not understand the CUF crisis, and how it’s slowly destroying the party. This isn’t only a big blow to the party, but also for democracy in our country. By the look of things, the impasse the CUF has been in for a while is but a suicidal attempt for the party and its leadership.
Considering the resources and time the mix-ups between the duo have already consumed, not to mention the relationship gone sour, there is no way all or any of the two can benefit from the ongoing drama without sitting on the roundtable and iron out their differences. The duo has discretion to accept such advice or go on their suttee. However, surely the only winner is the ruling party.
Due to the hegemonic nature of our politics, it seems that the duo has hijacked the party so as to pointlessly leave the members in the cold. This means CUF has never belonged to the members. Instead, it has always been the private estate of the leaders. This is why the members are not heard, nor are their views accommodated in addressing the problems the party has, for long, faced.
Interestingly, history has the tendency of replicating itself. Those who know how James Mapalala, the founder of CUF, was thrown under the bus, don’t wonder to see Hamad suffering the same fate. Live by sword. Die by sword.
So, too, those who wrongly thought that Hamad was using Lipumba now know how the duo was but strange bedfellows. Who was using whom? It isn’t easy to tell. More importantly, CUF has always seen to incline to one side of the United Republic of Tanzania. Refer to how Hamad entered into the Government of National Unity (GNU) in Visiwani without bothering to do the same in the Mainland. Strikingly, you wonder how one party can win on one side of the Union and lose on the other. This shows where its priorities are.
Demonstrably, the game the duo is playing is very lethal; however, thanks to their personal ambitions, it’s much to their own peril. For over a year now, they’ve been trading insults, bloviating, pontificating, calling each other names and expelling each other in what started as a spat among others. There is no way they can maintain squabbles and meaningfully forge ahead. This is why they are easily played against each other; simply because they are playing in the hands of their enemies. What the duo is doing is like dancing with the devil thinking that there is a way one can get away with it. When two friends do their dirty laundry in public, the shame that comes therefrom affects both equally.
Provided that the fate of the CUF is clear, what can be done to save or salvage it? Firstly, the duo must admit responsibility; and accept that they are part of the problem, but not the solution. Therefore, they should start addressing the problem based on this understanding, instead of the blame game that has been going on for a long time. Knowing and admitting the roles they have played in destabilising the party are key to the resolution of the conflict. In conflict resolution studies, we say that there must be the stage at which the conflict must be allowed so that those ensnared in it can start using different lenses, positive instead of negative ones to view each other based on their needs.
If the first mechanism flops, the members should shun; and thereafter expel the duo so that they can start afresh to either mend fences or tweak their parties.
In sum, Hamad and Lipumba have the solutions to the problems they created. So, too, they have the means to fell the CUF. Destruction is easier than construction. Again, this being obvious, why Hamad and Lipumba are putting their dirty linens on the agora?
Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian writer who is based in Canada