OPINION: Chadema, Sumaye and “The floods” and the ensuing heartaches

Sunday December 15 2019

Former Prime Minister Fredrick Sumaye

Former Prime Minister Fredrick Sumaye 

By Erick Mwakibete

Back in 2015, as the country was gripped with the political juggernaut that was Edward Lowassa, it seemed that every other day people outdid themselves to endorse him or pledge their support to his political cause.

The theme was change, and that, as Mwalimu had told CCM and the country in a previous era, Tanzanians wanted change and if CCM cannot deliver such change to them, they will look for it elsewhere.

Everywhere he went, a huge crowd of people waited for him. After he had decamped to the opposition Chadema, there were those who crossed with him to the opposition from CCM. For some reasons, this political phenomenon was referred to as “the floods”. Minus few cases where floods dump some fertile soil somewhere, they leave destruction in the places they affect. But in a strange world of politics, the floods came to connote something positive or good on the side of the opposition, that fertile soil was dumped and settled in their ranks.

The opposition Chadema and their political allies embraced this depiction, with some leaders saying one cannot stop the floods with their hands.

It was under these circumstances former Prime Minister Fredrick Sumaye decamped from CCM to the opposition Chadema decrying what he said were foul play in the selection process of a CCM presidential candidate. He offered other contradictory explanations which at times defeated his own logic.

Four years down the line and Mr Sumaye has decamped from Chadema to political “no man’s land”, during a press conference, offering some reasons along the same lines he offered when decamping from CCM. He decried the lack of intra-party democracy within Chadema, and again, it was about what he said was a flawed election process within that party that led him to the exit door.


If not for his ten years as this country’s prime minister, Sumaye would not have name recognition he enjoys today but that has never turned him into a political heavyweight.

His departure might have come at a good time for Chadema. They have been busy electing new party leaders, and we are headed into 2020.

These leaders, old and new must take stock of the last four years which have proven disastrous to their party because of the floods of 2015, among other factors. They should go back and look at their party’s history and the reasons it reached such dizzying political heights to a point it almost became a political movement and not merely a political party enough for them to take dangerous political gambles with people who knew nothing and could care less about the survival of their party in the long term.

Chadema is weaker today compared to where it was pre-2015. It has lost its moral authority and justifying the political miscalculations of 2015 will not offer any new political support. The floods ended up costing them a lot than what they thought they had gained.

Almost all those who came with the floods have left. At some point, after Chadema won more parliamentary seats and more councillors its leaders celebrated, arguing that their gamble had paid off! But hardly two years down the line from 2015, and it was proven that these newcomers caused too much heartaches and severe headaches.

Chadema was built by so many faceless people who gave their all to whatever cause they thought Chadema best represented compared to the rest of political parties. They have heartaches and headaches of their own since then. Chadema did not do well with political expediency.

As the political winds blowing now, all but guarantee huge political losses for Chadema and the opposition in general in 2020, they should prepare their party and its members for such eventuality. Should they be tempted to take another political detour hoping to avert the looming political disaster or minimizing their losses, they should look at the last four years, and the conclusion will be; in the words of a character in a Western tv series: “…If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention…”

Hopefully these Chadema leaders do pay attention.