Dar es Salaam. When Abdulrahman Kinana resigned as Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) Secretary General on Monday, local chatrooms went into overdrive speculating about his successor.
As anticipation grew through the following day, pundits in newsrooms and on internet forums across Tanzania weighed in. Who will be CCM’s newest champion?
Kinana had been the party’s heart since 2012. He was CCM’s de-facto policy boss. Surely his shoes would be too big to fill? Then Dr Bashiru Ally was plucked out of academia. Confirmed. Cheers and Hongeras rang on various media platforms.
‘He don’t play’
Big shoes or not – the new Party Secretary General has already made it clear that he has not come to play. He means business. He leaves his post as a Political Sciences lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam to take a more ‘visible’ political role. However, he is not new to the public.
Dr Bashiru – as he is popularly known – has created for himself a reputation as a political analyst in the media and on various discussion platforms. It should therefore not come as a surprise that a recent video of an interview he did on local TV resurfaced the night of his appointment, where he had made clear his stand on critical political issues in the country.
His stand on Katiba Mpya
As CCM seeks to brand itself anew, ‘CCM Mpya’, is Bashiru the right person to bring that vision to life? That depends on what vision CCM has for itself and whether or not Bashiru’s vision coincides with it. It is known that a new Katiba is not in CCM’s agenda despite revelations by a 2017 Twaweza report that showed wananchi want a new constitution.
Just under half of citizens on the Mainland (42%) support the current two-government structure.
Less popular options are a single government (25 %), a three government structure, as proposed by the Constitutional Review Commission (16 %), and something similar to the current structure but with more autonomy for Zanzibar (12 %).
In the video, Dr Bashiru argues for the need for a new Katiba: an old song that was started by Judge Francis Nyalali in 1991. He questions why Tanzania hasn’t written a new Katiba already. He argues that our current constitution was formed to cater for a one-party system, and advocates for a new Katiba to change the political culture of one-partism to multipartism.
That video clip went viral Tuesday night.
Sure, he’s likeable. Will he stay the same?
Bashiru is well-read. He speaks with confidence and gusto. He is known to be a socialist.
And as he gave a vote of thanks after his appointment, he promised to enforce the law of the land, the party’s law, and restore the Arusha Declaration.
He isn’t exactly a politician but has been influenced by it and is equipped to influence the kind of politics that can rule development. This makes him likable, but it is also what makes it easy to question whether he will bring that version of himself to his new job. Will power change him? Will he stay the same?
Power corrupts, absolute power…
For it can be debated that once an academician enters politics, they are more influenced by it than the other way around. Names can be mentioned – Prof Kitila Mkumbo, Mr Humphrey Polepole – once individuals with a critical eye, voicing their concerns against various government injustices. But once they were given positions in the party, or in government, their tone also changed.
So now what?
Before his new appointment, Dr Bashiru Ally had been tapped to implement findings of a committee he chaired to audit the ruling party’s assets and liabilities. At the event of his appointment, President John Magufuli, who is also CCM national chairman, praised the new stalwart for his great work. He went on to say that Dr Bashiru would have to do the same in Zanzibar – but now while wearing the hat of the party’s Secretary General.
So maybe Dr Bashiru will not change after all. Only time will tell.