Dar es Salaam. In what has turned out to be a politically-charged year, perhaps the scariest development was the suspected attempted assassination of an outspoken MP. But the package for 2017 also includes mass defections of opposition cadres to the ruling party; the crippling squabbling in the troubled Civic United Front (a spillover from 2016), and the costly, but hotly disputed council by-elections across the country.
However, the year seems to finally be coming to an end on a lower note in the political arena.
This is especially considering that ‘2017’ opened with heightened activity as the political opposition kept struggling to stay relevant – and the comeback ruling ‘party of the revolution’ (Chama Cha Mapinduzi, CCM) continued to tighten its grip on power.
Granted, it’s been a hectic 12 months for the country’s major political players.
And, in this issue, we take a look at some of the key events and major decisions taken, as well as the political movers and shakers of a dramatic 2017…
Lissu’s attempted assassination
Among the issues which shocked the public this year was the attempted assassination of the Singida-East constituency MP Tundu Lissu on September 7 when ‘unknown persons sprayed the MP’s car with at least 38 bullets, 16 of which hit him.
Mr Lissu was seriously injured and was flown to Nairobi Hospital in Kenya where he is still recuperating.
Several former and current governmental officials and parliamentarians have visited the firebrand lawyer who is also the president of the Tanzania Law Society.
These include Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan and Ali Hassan Mwinyi, a former state president (1985-95).
Nape Nnauye is fired
The former publicity secretary for the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), credited with helping the party romp to victory in the 2015 elections, was sacked on March 23 over what is seen as his stand on Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda.
On the day he was sacked, Mr Nnauye called a press conference, but armed police violently scuttled it as soon as he arrived at the venue. A man believed to be a plainclothes policeman ordered him at gunpoint to board his car and leave, but he defied the order and addressed journalists from his car.
He said he had no grudge against President Magufuli for sacking him, but criticised the police for “thinking they have a right to determine the fate of the youth of Tanzania.”
There’s no doubt that the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) – out of the country’s 20-plus political parties – will be the most cheerful this year on account of defections by several political opposition cadres who then joined CCM.
One of the things that Tanzanians will be trying to fathom as they enter 2018 could be: who will be the next politicians to defect from their party – and for what reason?
The year-2017 witnessed mass defections commonly known as ‘the Great Migration’ where several politicians have announced their defection from one party to another. In the event, the political opposition suffered a big blow whereby its members, including leaders at different party levels, jumped ship to join the ruling CCM.
Almost invariably, the defectors have given the same reason for crossing the political divide: they admire President John Magufuli’s exemplary performance in running the country, and feel compelled to join his bandwagon!
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has announced January 13, 2018 as the by-elections date for three parliamentary constituencies and six local government council wards across the country.
However, the opposition coalition ‘Ukawa’ say its members won’t take part in the polling. In that regard, Ukawa has highlighted several ‘discrepancies’ in the processes which, the coalition demands, must be addressed to make the by-elections free and fair.
Apparently, this impasse is partly contributed to by the November 26, 2017) by-elections for councillors which resulted in CCM winning 42 of the 43 seats that were ‘contested,’ with opposition parties claiming rough play, numerous ‘fouls,’ violence and questionable involvement of security and other state organs.
Magufuli voted new CCM chairman
The year-2017 also saw the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) holding its intraparty elections which culminated in Dr John Magufuli being elected the new chairman of the party. Dr Magufuli garnered all the 1,821 valid votes cast, and took the chairman’s Baton from his predecessor, immediate past President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.
Wrangling continues within CUF
The seemingly-endless internal conflict within the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) is likely to continue stifling the party. This is especially taking into account the latest High Court ruling on the new CUF Board of Trustees…
The court verdict also overturned the sacking of party members who include the CUF deputy secretary genera (mainland); the Kaliua constituency MP, Magdalena Sakaya, and Mtwara-Urban constituency MP, Maftaha Nachuma.
The party has been undergoing internal wrangling for almost two years now. It all started with the decision by Prof Lipumba to reinstate himself as CUF chairman after he had voluntarily resigned that position in 2015.
Opposition members detained
Thirty-eight Chadema members, including two lawmakers, were detained following local elections. MPs Susan Kiwanga and Peter Lijualikali, as well as 36 other members of the party, were arrested on November 29 in Morogoro. They were charged with illegal assembly and damaging property, while the two MPs also face an extra charge of incitement to violence.