Wednesday, February 15, 2017

It is all-out supremacy war in CCM

Regional Commissioners during a 2015/16 budget

Regional Commissioners during a 2015/16 budget session in the National Assembly. Some CCM lawmakers have openly lashed out at the presidential appointees for overstepping their bounds. Political analysts see the verbal conflict as a sign of a major power struggle within the ruling party.  

By Athuman Mtulya @TheCitizenTz

The anti-narcotics campaign sprearheaded by Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda has fuelled territorial wars and a fierce battle for supremacy within the corridors of power in the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).

As CCM members of parliament joined hands with their opposition colleagues in the august House last week to lash out at the RC, the ruling party became one of the casualties as collateral damage spreads in the war on drugs.

It revived the fierce internal rivalry pitting elected CCM representatives in the National Assembly against a group of increasingly powerful and influential presidential appointees, mainly regional and district commissioners.

District Executive Directors (DEDs) have also been caught in the eye of the storm since last year when the appointees were blasted in the august House for abusing their offices.

Some political analysts have said that the clear bad blood between the two powerful forces in CCM is a reflection of the bitterness that set in during the fierce primaries ahead of the 2015 General Election.

Others are of the opinion that the jostling and public exchange of verbal punches is yet another sign that there is a lot of mistrust between the powers that be in the country’s oldest, especially after the sweeping reforms that its chairman, President John Magufuli, introduced last year.

The changes locked some MPs out of one the party’s powerful bodies, the National Executive Council (NEC). They include reducing the number of members of the party’s top decision making organs, the central committee and the NEC.

There was also disgruntlement over the decision to abolish party branches at the 10 cells level as a huge political misstep that could weaken the party’s important constituencies at the grassroots.

More so, MPs, who seem to have been the hardest-hit, are obviously not happy about the show of power by RCs and DCs who appear to have assume the forefront of the President’s ‘Hapa Kazi Tu’ mantra’.

One of the most debated topics in Parliament in the last two meetings (fifth session, November 2016 and sixth session, February 2017) has been the performance of the regional administrators. The general consensus among MPs is that the appointed administrators, many of whom are young blood and Johny-come-latelies in politics, are not only underperforming, but also openly abusing their powers with the pretext that they have the President’s backing.

When a few days ago, the Dar es Salaam RC chided MPs for “sleeping on the job” in Dodoma, he only added salt to a wound. Lawmakers took it as yet another evidence of the “wayward” behaviour of the President’s appointees.

CCM MPs took turns to hit back at the remarks and together with their opposition colleagues summoned Mr Makonda to face them in the Natioal Assembly. But there are other battles going on across the country.

They include the stand-off between Chemba MP (CCM) Juma Nkamia and Chemba DC Saimon Odunga reportedly over land. The issue of regional administrators’ performance was first debated in the National Assembly last November as the Local Authorities Accounts Committee (LAAC) tabled its 2014/15 fiscal year report.

The committee suggested that to avoid more damage and leadership wrangles, the administrators should be taken for orientation courses to empower them with basic skills to efficiently execute their duties.

LAAC member and Mbinga Rural MP on the CCM ticket, Mr Martin Msuha, told the august House that about 60 per cent of DEDs who they came across were worryingly incompetent.

“These are people entrusted with overseeing of development projects worth billions of shillings, if the government will not intervene now, then I see a high possibility of increased flaws in the next local government authorities’ audits,” he said.

LAAC deputy chairperson Abdallah Chikota told the House that although the President’s idea of bringing a new crop of leaders into local governments was commendable, they should be taught on their key responsibilities.

“We must put the record straight as well, not all new DEDs are incompetent, we received some very vibrant DEDs from Kiteto, Ileje, Arusha, Tandahimba and Tarime,” he said adding, “The government must find ways of taking them for training. These guys are handling 15 departments; they must be well aware of water issues, procurement proceedings, health and education among others.”

Mr Chikota who is also a former DED said the new officials must also receive training on laws that established their offices and responsibilities.

Mr Issa Mangungu (Mbagala-CCM) said the seminars must also be extended to new regional and district commissioners. “We’re having a hard time working with these new commissioners; some of them believe they have more power than us and want us to salute them. They should be reminded of their powers and boundaries as well.”

This month, the matter was taken to Parliament as well when the Parliamentary Committee on Administration and Local Government tabled its annual report for 2016/17. Part of the reported noted that it has been a norm for the regional administrators to issue orders contrary to the Constitution and human rights, including hurling insults and ordering arbitrary arrests of civil servants.

Presenting the committee’s report before the august House, Ms Esther Mahawe said that “We have seen a DED order a teacher in front of his student to mop a classroom because it was dirty, one RC referred to some civil servants in public as ‘lunatics that we are dealing with’.”

Meanwhile, as RC Makonda was busy launching his anti-narcotics campaign, the Parliamentary Committee on Aids presented its report in Parliament, and revealed that the National Drugs Control and Enforcement Authority was severely underfunded and its Commissioner General was yet to be appointed. The MPs used the report to lambast Mr Makonda saying his war was not against drugs but a mere publicity stunt.