Dodoma. Finally, CCM’s six presidential hopefuls who were suspended over premature campaigns to succeed President Jakaya Kikwete are now free to engage in the party’s political affairs after 12 months of being in the cold.
The party’s Central Committee (CC) gave the verdict yesterday and ostensibly cleared the six top cadres to launch their campaigns, should they want to proceed with their plans to clinch CCM’s ticket for the presidency in the October General Election.
The announcement came following a marathon meeting of the top party organ yesterday led by the national Chairman President Jakaya Kikwete. The meeting was also attended by Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohammed Shein, amongst other senior members. The decision means former Prime Ministers Edward Lowassa and Frederick Sumaye, Foreign Affairs minister Bernard Membe, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives Stephen Wassira, Communications, Science and Technology deputy minister January Makamba and former Energy and Minerals minister William Ngeleja are free to campaign for any elective post in the party provided they act within the party guidelines.
Except for Mr Lowassa and Mr Membe who have outrightly declared that they will not be defending their respective parliamentary seats and Mr Sumaye who is retired, the others have not been clear about their presidential ambitions.
Yesterday’s decision that was announced at a press briefing by CCM’s publicity secretary Nape Nnauye sets the tone for today’s meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) that will run for two days.
Reports say camps of several of the candidates, who are already in Dodoma for the crucial meetings, welcomed the decision to lift the ban and joined their preferred candidates to jubilate. Photos of the jubilation were quickly shared on social media.
Even though Mr Nape said the CC only deliberated on a report on the investigation into the campaign activities of the six, it is expected too that NEC is likely to set official dates for the party nominations for all elective seats. The cadres were slapped with the one-year ban in February 2014 and when the time expired early this year, the ruling party’s CC extended the ban, saying they were to investigate if the six had fully observed all the conditions they were given.
During media briefing yesterday in Dodoma, Mr Nnauye said the CC meeting received and endorsed a proposal by party’s committee for security and ethics to lift the ban.
“Now, the six members are allowed to continue with their activities in the party,” he said. However, he said, the party warned them and other aspirants to read and observe the party’s ethics and regulations so that they avoid facing the same punishment in future.
“When the party gets reports on all those who are starting or will start early campaigns will have their names rejected during the vetting process to get presidential nominees,” he warned.
Mr Nnauye dismissed reports circulated earlier yesterday that the CC meeting had issued warning letters to the six cadres.
Back in March, Mr Nnauye said that the party’s regulation that was used to bar the six was clear that whoever breached the party’s code of conduct ought to be suspended from engaging himself or herself in matters related to the punishment for a period of not less than 12 months.
He said, the party was under no obligation to give their verdict on the punishment meted out to the six cadres because as per the regulation, the time may be extended if the party deems it fit.
Speaking on the official process of getting CCM’s presidential contender, Mr Nnauye said the meetings that started yesterday will come out with a time table for primaries on all posts from councillors, members of parliament to presidency.
He said the party will ban all types of fanfares during form picking and submission. This will apply for all posts. At the same time, government leaders, regardless of their positions, will be forced to drop official protocol when picking and returning their nomination forms.
One of the six cadres, Mr January Makamba, told the The Citizen that he expected such a decision by the party’s CC because he had done nothing wrong.
He said now he was preparing himself to pick the presidential form and start campaigns at the right time when the party officially allows.