As this year’s General Election draws closer, defections are also gathering pace. Since the year began, a number of high-profile politicians have switched their allegiance, and more are likely to follow in the coming months.
Interestingly, it has so far largely been one-way traffic from opposition parties to the ruling CCM, which has in the last few weeks welcomed into their ranks former MPs Cecil Mwambe and Ahmed Katani, who crossed over from Chadema and CUF, respectively. Former Chadema secretary-general Vincent Mashinji also decamped to CCM last week.
In total, at least 12 opposition lawmakers and dozens of councillors, the vast majority from Chadema, have defected to CCM since the 2015 General Election.
Mr Lazaro Nyalandu is so far the only MP to have headed in the opposite direction, having done so in 2017 when he quit CCM and joined Chadema.
Not surprisingly, Chadema has dismissed the defectors as “CCM moles”, whose sole mission all along was to undermine and destabilise the opposition party from within. It’s good riddance, as far as Chadema is concerned.
But with the CCM nominations later this year expected to be a bruising and divisive affair, it will come as a surprise if there will be no defections from the ruling party to the opposition. Also, movement from opposition parties to CCM, albeit a trickle, cannot be entirely ruled out.
But, as former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously said back in the 1960s, a week is a long time in politics.
Nominations are still several months away, and only then will voters know whether parties would have learnt any lessons insofar as defections are concerned.
It is perfectly within politicians’ constitutional rights to join political parties of their choice, and it is up to voters to judge them at the ballot box come election time.