Chadema leaders defend defection

Wednesday July 29 2015

 Tundu Lissu   who is Singida  East MP and Dr

 Tundu Lissu   who is Singida  East MP and Dr Wilibroad Slaa 

By Katare Mbashiru and Frank Kimboy

Dar es Salaam. Chadema leaders took to social media yesterday to explain the party’s decision to take in former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, who has defected from CCM.

Outgoing Opposition Chief Whip Tundu Lissu said the move was all about “perfect timing” under the prevailing political climate.

Chadema Secretary-General Willibrod Slaa said Mr Lowassa, who resigned in 2008 after he was linked with the Richmond scandal, had since been vindicated.

Mr Lissu wrote on his Facebook page that the four parties under the Ukawa coalition – Chadema, CUF, NCCR-Mageuzi and NLD – have unanimously agreed to field Mr Lowassa as their joint presidential candidate in the October 25 General Election.

“The big question we need to answer correctly is why we have welcomed him and picked him as our flag-bearer.

“CCM is now split down the middle, and this is the perfect moment someone with Mr Lowassa’s political clout and influence helped us win in constituencies that are not part of our traditional strongholds,’’ said Mr Lissu, who is also the outgoing Singida East MP.

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He added that Mr Lowassa would help the Opposition to unseat CCM because “he was more popular than anyone else in CCM”.

On corruption allegations that have dogged Mr Lowassa for over seven years, Mr Lissu said: “We have decided that our biggest enemy is CCM and its corrupt system, not Lowassa as an individual. By inviting Mr Lowassa, the Opposition will be able to unseat CCM and dismantle the entire corrupt system.”

Dr Slaa wrote on his Twitter handle: “There are many CCM members accused of involvement in corruption who have come to us with evidence vindicating them... Mr Edward Lowassa is not the first.”

He urged more CCM members accused of corruption to convince the Chadema leadership they were clean and the party would decide whether or not to take them on board.

The Citizen reached some of Mr Lowassa’s staunchest supporters in CCM for comment yesterday, and they were generally guarded in their remarks on the former Monduli MP’s decision to jump ship.

Those who spoke to The Citizen included former Home Affairs minister, who earlier this month launched a blistering diatribe against CCM after Mr Lowassa was axed from the list of members seeking nomination as the party’s presidential candidate.

Yesterday, he preferred to keep his views about Mr Lowassa’s defection to himself.

“Listen my brother. I’m a CCM cadre, so I can’t talk about other political parties,” he said.

Dr Nchimbi added that he would be in a better position to comment after hearing what Mr Lowassa had to say.

Singida CCM regional chairman Mgana Msindai, another diehard Lowassa supporter, said the former premier’s decision should be respected.

Asked whether he would follow Mr Lowassa into Chadema, Mr Msindai responded: “I’m a CCM member, and I’m currently seeking my party’s nomination as a parliamentary candidate.”

Shinyanga CCM regional chairman Hamisi Mngeja also said Mr Lowassa’s decision should be respected, adding that he had the right to change political allegiance.