Dar es Salaam. Civic United Front (CUF) stalwart Julius Mtatiro’s shock decision to join the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) Labour has provoked fury and disappointment from the opposition faithful and an equal measure of delight from the ruling party.
The chairman of the interim leadership committee of a faction of the troubled opposition outfit announced his surprise decision at a press conference Saturday August 11.
His defection comes hot on the heels of a similar move by two Chadema MPs, plunging the opposition into a new era of uncertainty.
Mtatiro had brushes with law enforcement agents just last month after he allegedly took a swipe at President John Magufuli on Facebook.
But in decamping, he said he would now be supporting the fifth phase government under President Magufuli.
As CCM congratulated him, some critics expressed their regret at the decision to leave opposition, but sympathising with his “empty” reasons for defecting.
Kigoma Urban MP Zitto Kabwe wrote on twitter: “Another one has succumbed. @Julius_Mtatiro with same same reasons which are empty and without evidence whatsoever. Let us continue to RESIST.”
He vowed the opposition would not die.
CCM secretary for Ideology and Publicity Humphrey Polepole said Mr Matatiro had expressed “political freedom”.
“Some cheap politicians will say he has been bought; congratulations brother you will be rewarded by the history,” he said on twitter.
CUF deputy secretary general for the Mainland, Ms Magdalena Sakaya, said she was shocked with the move that’s “bad for democracy”.
“Looking at the bigger picture you realise it’s a project to kill the opposition.”
Mr John Mnyika, Chadema’s mainland deputy secretary general, said he saw it coming. “I met him several times recently; he somehow gave the impression of one who had lost hope in opposition politics,” he said.
CUF deputy secretary general for Zanzibar Nassor Mazrui said he had learnt about the defection through the media.
But he was quick to say that he was “not surprised” given the current wave of defections by opposition leaders who are are joining CCM.
He added: “The future of this country is under threat from political corruption.”
Mr Mtatiro said he had abandoned all his beliefs in CUF, and was now ready to play a new role under CCM.