Political parties speak out on defections ahead of polls

Monday February 24 2020



ACT-Wazalendo chief advisor Seif Shariff Hamad

ACT-Wazalendo chief advisor Seif Shariff Hamad 

By Bakari Kiango @bkiango news@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. Political leaders have voiced mixed sentiments on the recent wave of defections among parties. While others said defections could radically alter the political landscape ahead of this year’s General Election, others were of the view that any impact would be minimal.

ACT-Wazalendo chief advisor Seif Shariff Hamad said yesterday that the impact of defections could not be underestimated since some of those who have defected still wielded significant political clout.

Mr Hamad, who himself defected from the Civic United Front (CUF) to ACT-Wazalendo last year, said, however, that the wave of defections from the opposition to the ruling CCM, was likely to hurt the electorate’s trust in opposition politicians. Mr Hamad was commenting on the recent defection to CCM of opposition MPs Katani Katani of Tandahimba (CUF) and Cecil Mwambe of Ndanda (Chadema), just eight months before this year’s General Election.

The lawmakers said they were leaving their parties and joining CCM in support of President John Magufuli’s development agenda.

‘The defections mean that the vote will be split, and this could prove advantageous to the ruling party. However, there is also the question of whether the forthcoming elections will be free and fair. We all know what happened during last year’s local government elections,” he said.

Asked what needs to be done to stem the tide of defections, Mr Hamad, who has unsuccessfully contested the Zanzibar presidency four times since 1995, said it was difficult to do so “in view of the current nature of CCM”, adding that the opposition needs to remain strong.

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He added that it is highly likely that CCM will reward defectors by nominating them as candidates to vie for the same parliamentary seats they held while in the opposition.

Those who will lose in the nominations will be appeased by being offered other posts, Mr Hamad said.

“What the opposition needs to do is regain public confidence and trust in the wake of the defection of MPs and councillors.”

CUF deputy secretary-general (Tanzania Mainland) Magdalena Sakaya said there were good and bad sides to everything, but added that the defections buttressed the notion that politicians were people who could not be trusted.

“The stability of the any political party depends on public support. When people trust and vote for you, only for you to defect and abandon them, trust in opposition politicians is likely to suffer irreparable damage,” she said.

Chadema deputy secretary-general (Zanzibar) Salum Mwalimu said party-hopping among politicians ahead of elections is nothing unusual.

“In most cases, the defectors are driven by personal gain that has nothing to do with their former parties,” he said.