Dodoma. CCM embarks on a series of meetings this week that will culminate in the naming on July 12 of the party’s candidates for the Union and Zanzibar presidencies in the forthcoming General Election.
The attention of CCM and opposition supporters alike will for the next few days be focused on Dodoma, where the meetings will take place in the next six days.
Thirty-eight aspirants, including four women, are seeking to be nominated to stand as the party’s Union presidential candidate and succeed Mr Jakaya Kikwete, who will retire after the October 25 General Election. They are among 42 CCM members who had collected nomination forms from the party’s headquarters in Dodoma during a one-month period. Four aspirants failed to beat last Thursday’s deadline for returning forms.
In contrast, Zanzibar President Ali Mohammed Shein was the only CCM member who picked up and returned nomination forms in Zanzibar. He is likely to be endorsed to seek a second and final five-year term (see separate story on Page 3).
Political analysts view this year’s nomination of the Union presidential candidate as one of the most competitive in CCM’s recent history.
CCM stalwarts have in recent weeks been working to ensure that the party remains united after naming its candidate next Sunday amid ominous predictions by detractors of a devastating split that could cost the party victory and end its status as Africa’s longest reigning independence party.
The Ethics Committee and the Secretariat will from today to Wednesday scrutinise aspirants and their nomination forms to see if they meet requirements for the next vetting stages.
According to a timetable released in Dodoma, the Central Committee (CC) and National Executive Committee (NEC) would meet on Thursday and Friday, respectively, before the party’s congress convenes on Saturday and Sunday.
The Secretarial will largely confine itself to nomination forms submitted by aspirants and see whether they meet conditions set by the party.
It is the decision of the Ethics Committee that is being eagerly awaited.
Chaired by CCM vice chairman (Mainland) Philip Mangula, the committee is expected to compile a dossier on each of the candidates and decide whether any rules were broken in the run-up to the nomination process.
About a dozen of the aspirants were last year reprimanded and put on year-long surveillance by the Mangula team for allegedly engaging in premature campaigns and committing other violations, including bribing members to raise their profiles ahead of the nomination process.
It remains to be seen how the committee will judge them this time around.
Mr Mangula warned aspirants as they were going around the country seeking members’ endorsements that they were being closely monitored, and any foul play would come to haunt them in Dodoma.
There is already a simmering feud between Mr Mangula and supporters of former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, who accuse the vice chairman of harbouring ill will against the Monduli MP.
One of Mr Lowassa’s staunchest supporters, CCM veteran Kingunge Ngombale-Mwiru, has openly spoken out on what he alleges is plot to scuttle Mr Lowassa’s bid.
The files of the 38 aspirants as compiled by the two committees will be forwarded to the CC, which is expected to pick only five names to be considered by the NEC.
The CC will meet on Thursday, the same day President Kikwete is scheduled to address Parliament before dissolving it ahead of the elections.
On Friday, around 300 NEC members will receive recommendations from the CC and pick three candidate, who will then be put to vote at the Congress, which is expected to be attended by over 2,400 delegates on Saturday and Sunday.
However, party insiders said it was likely more than three names would be forwarded to NEC for consideration.
The schedule of meetings may also change according to developments in the coming days.
Final touches were being made to CCM headquarters yesterday in readiness for the Secretariat Committee, Ethics Committee and NEC meetings. The Congress meeting will be held at the newly built CCM Convention Centre on the outskirts of the municipality.
Teams fronting the interests of aspirants began arriving in Dodoma last week.
Many hotels and guest houses in Dodoma were full by yesterday, and latecomers are likely to face an accommodation crisis. Nearly 4,000 people are expected in Dodoma for the CCM meetings.
On Saturday, the CC met under the chairmanship of Mr Kikwete to review and approve the CCM Manifesto. President Kikwete later flew to Dar es Salaam to chair the EAC extra-ordinary summit on Burundi.