Dar es Salaam. Former Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe, who was recently ejected from the ruling CCM, confirmed yesterday that he will contest the presidency in this year’s General Election. In an interview with the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) in Lindi, Mr Membe said it was possible that he would contest through another party.
Mr Membe said he wanted to face Presi-dent John Magufuli, who is seeking a second term. Earlier this year, CCM’s Central Committee (CC) announced expelling Mr Membe from the party accusing him of misconduct and violating the party’s ethics and constitution. But he said yesterday that a leaked phone conversation with other party cadres was a result of phone tapping.
Mr Membe, who sought the ruling party’s nomination for presidency in 2015, was kicked out by the Central Committee (CC), but he maintains that he was treated unfairly because of his stance against the Head of State.
“It’s not a sin to criticise President John Magufuli,’’ said Mr Membe.But CCM’s political affairs and international relations secretary, Colonel (rtd) Ngemela Lubinga, said yesterday that Mr Membe should show political maturity. “Membe should first of all stick to his oath as a senior person who was in government...politics should come later.
He may be retired, but this oath does not end. He must show political maturity,” Mr Colonel Lubinga told The Citizen by telephone. “The oath requires him to respect the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the defence and security forces and chairman of the ruling party,’’ Col Lubinga said.
Mr Membe told DW yesterday that six other ruling party members wanted to run against President Magufuli, but he could not name them for fear that they could be expelled from the party. “There are six other members in the par-ty who would wish to pick up nomination forms.
I am the seventh. I could have named them was it not for this tendency of expel-ling people from the party,’’ said Mr Membe. He also questioned the independence of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), saying he doubted if it could oversee free and fair elections in October polls. “When you talk of NEC, there is one letter missing from the abbreviation, and that is ‘I’ which is supposed to stands for ‘independent’. The electoral commission should be independent.”
He also revealed what transpired last year when he was questioned by CCM’s Ethics and Security Committee. “I told them that I want to vie for the presidency in 2020, but they insisted that I can’t run. When I asked why, I was told it is the party’s tradition to let the incumbent vie unopposed. I was categorical that the party’s constitution does not bar members from contesting the presidency,” Mr Membe said.