Dar es Salaam. Analysts say there is more than meets the eye in the latest bold response by former CCM secretaries-general to the accusations that they plot to obstruct the work of President John Magufuli.
Political pundits say the development could be revealing a deep-seated and suppressed fissures within the longest-reigning party in Africa.
Commentators who spoke to The Citizen yesterday say the new development signals resurgence of the unhealed 2015 general election wounds, which they think are likely to haunt the ruling party ahead of civic elections in October.
Mr Yusuf Makamba and Mr Abdulrahman Kinana, who served as CCM’s SGs between 2009 to 2011 and 2012-2018, respectively, broke the long silence on Sunday over the now-frequent-allegations by publisher, Mr Cyprian Musiba, who has been using his newspapers, Tanzanite and Fahari Yetu, to accuse the duos of what he said was “preventing the President from doing his job.”
In the letter, which was directed to the CCM’s advisory council, the retired senior officials warned of the dangers that the “unfounded allegations” pose to the party’s “unity, solidarity and tranquillity.
The two leader have called on the party’s sages to intervene, saying that there must be a force behind Mr Musiba’s accusations which they think is determined to drive the county “into a precipitous drop.”
“We used to believe that when it happens someone [Mr Musiba] comes out publicly to degrade senior former party officials, and especially when that person is associating himself with the government and the President, who is the CCM’s national chairperson, some measures would be taken like the issuing of a public statement [condemning the attacks],” reads the letter in part.
“Unfortunately, our leaders [within the party and the government] never took any action. This has bolstered [Mr Musiba] to continue to disrespect senior retired party leaders as well as other community and political leaders,” read the letter.
The Advisory Council secretary, former National Assembly Speaker Pius Msekwa, confirmed to The Citizen to have received the letter yesterday and said it will be dealt according to the party’s procedures.
The self-described activist Musiba has presented himself as the battiest critic to any voice that he thought shares political, economic as well as security perspective different to what the government stands for.
Through his newspapers, social media platforms and occasional press conferences Mr Musiba has brazenly named both high profile and ordinary citizen, to be anti-government.
These include opposition lawmakers, government officials, independent activists as well as ruling party’s senior officials both serving and retiring.
Just last week, Mr Musiba accused former foreign affairs minister Bernard Membe of leading a clique plotting to prevent President Magufuli from the 2020 contest using the party’s general conference.
Mr Musiba claimed that the “plot” is being prepared in support of the former senior party leaders in cooperation with their serving counterparts. He did this despite a pending civil case in the High Court in which Mr Membe is suing him for defamation.
In December last year, CCM secretary general, Dr Bashiru Ally publicly summoned Mr Membe, saying he wanted to speak to him about reports that he wanted to challenge President Magufuli in the 2020 General Election.
“I want him to come and tell me about what I have heard about him running a campaign to undermine the President,” said Dr Bashiru while addressing CCM members in Geita.
All these developments, according to analysts, bespeak of the simmering disquiet in the party, portraying a level of desperation of a team that may be unsettled or not fully in command.
The attack on Membe is also interesting because the former long-serving Mtama MP and spy operative has maintained a studious silence after losing the CCM race for the presidency to Dr Magufuli in 2015. He has largely spent his time outside the country on private business.
Membe’s next course of action will be of keen interest to political observers. So far, other than the allegations, he has said nothing to suggest he would be challenging President Magufuli for the CCM ticket in 2020.
CCM has an unwritten tradition that the sitting president is allowed a run for the second term, the reason why Dr Bashiru’s, and for that matters Musiba’s, claims have provoked huge public debate.
A political scientist from the University of Dar es Salaam Dr Richard Mbunda called the letter a wakeup call to both the ruling party and government officials.
Dr Mbunda says the letter reveals what was already clear to many that the party-building project initiated by its chairman since he came to office in 2016 will deal a blow to many.
This might be the reason why Mr Musiba’s attacks attracted neither protest nor condemnation from both the party and the government.
“It is very possible that the person who is steering these reforms think that getting rid of these bad elements are for the larger party’s interests but the consequences will be disastrous if the trend continues unbroken,” warned Dr Mbunda.
To Dr Paul Luisulie, a political analyst from the University of Dodoma, the latest development could be revealing failure of CCM’s internal mechanisms to deal with the grievances of both their serving and former leaders, saying the situation ‘has very serious repercussions’ to the unity of the part ahead of elections.
“You don’t expect a person like Musiba comes forward and attack as many people as he sees fit with no one, either within the party or the government condemning the acts, and think that everything is fine,” says Dr Luisulie.
He echoes Dr Mbunda views that such attacks would never pass without hurting people within the party, especially those associated with the victims. He says people will not be angry with the person who attacks but with the silence of those responsible to condemn his actions.
“I think what this letter is doing is to wake up those in the decision-making positions that there are responsibilities that they have to be up to. That they need to break the silence and act.
“If it [the letter] will be ignored, the author’s suspicions will be confirmed. It is very important that CCM give an explanation and work on the grievances that its former leaders have pointed out,” says Dr Luisulie.