- Accused Special Seat MPs did not, however, appear before the meeting to which they had been summoned to explain how they were nominated and why they went against the party stance
Dar es Salaam. Chadema members of the Central Committee were locked up in a lengthy meeting yesterday to discuss the fate of women wing (Bawacha) members whose nomination as Special Seat MPs has generated heated debate in and outside the party.
The party’s membership and the general public were eagerly waiting for news from the CC meeting as pressure mounted on the opposition party’s leadership to crack the whip against 19 women MPs who have been accused of accepting the nominations to Parliament against the wishes of the party.
The 19 women hold several leadership positions in Chadema, including five who are members of yesterday’s CC. They did not, however, appear before the meeting to which they had been summoned to explain how they were nominated and why they went against the party’s stance.
Chadema has publicly disputed the outcome of the October 28 General Election and called for a repeat election, declaring it would not take part in Parliamentary affairs despite the National Electoral Commission apportioning the 19 Special Seats to the party which was placed second after CCM.
Secretary General John Mnyika on Wednesday told a press conference Chadema had not nominated or endorsed anyone for the Special Seats usually reserved for women. He said stern disciplinary measures would be taken against the 19 and others who may have played a part leading to their swearing in.
No information was forthcoming from the CC meeting at Bahari Beach Hotel by the time of going to press as journalists and non-Chadema CC members kept vigil outside. The whereabouts of the 19 was also not immediately clear even though reports placed most of them in Dar es Salaam.
Yesterday’s meeting was presided by national chairman Freeman Mbowe, with vice chairman Tundu Lissu participating virtually from Belgium where he fled soon after the elections expressing fear for his safety.
Security at the venue was tight and journalists were not allowed inside the meeting room except during the afternoon break when they were allowed to take still pictures and videos. The CC members continued with the meeting after lunch and was still going on into the night.
Apart from Mr Mbowe and Mr Lissu, other CC members present were Mr Mnyika, and his deputy Salum Mwalimu (Zanzibar), youth wing chairman John Pambalu and elders’ wing chairman Hashim Juma. Others were John Heche, Peter Msigwa, Joseph Mbilinyi, Boniface Jacob, Suzan Kiwanga, John Mrema, Julius Mwita, Rodrick Rutembeka, Patrick Ole Sosopi, Grace Kiwelu and Gibson Meseyeki.
Earlier, a section of Bawacha members brandishing placards protested at the party headquarters demanding their 19 colleagues to be stripped off their party membership. Kibamba constituency chairperson Monica Azaria accused Bawacha chairperson Halima Mdee and the co-accused for betraying the party.
“They are not worthy of their positions and cannot be trusted as bona fide Chadema officials. They should be stripped off membership because the party doesn’t belong to an individual,” she demanded. Special Seat candidate, Ms Anna Kajigili, condemned the sworn in MPs for betraying the party’s collective decision not to recognise the polls outcome over rigging concerns. She said the 19 picked themselves for nomination against the set rules.
Ms Veronica Mwangala who contested for Special Seats in Mbeya said the 19 should be dealt with sternly if the party is to retain the trust and support it enjoys from the larger public.
Yesterday calls from Bawacha members echoed similar reports released by party’s women wing regional leaders including in Mwanza, Mara, Tabora, Temeke and Manyara, all of whom condemned the 19 colleagues.
Those in the eye of the storm are the former Kawe MP Mdee, national secretary Grace Tendega, ex-Bunda and Tarime Urban MPs Ester Bulaya and Esther Matiko respectively. Others are Cecilia Pareso; Jesca Kishoa; Nagenjwa Kaboyoka; Sophia Mwakagenda; Anatropea Theonest; Salome Makamba; Stella Fiao; Agnes Kaiza; Hawa Mwaifunga; Felista Njau; Kunt Majala; Tunza Malapo; Asna Mohamed and Conjesta Rwamulaza.
Chaema’s youth wing (Bavicha) national secretary, Ms Nusrat Hanje, who had been in remand for 163 days and only released on the eve of their swearing in on Tuesday was also expected to appear before the CC.
National Assembly Speaker Job Ndugai who swore in the MPs said: “We have carried this exercise here today after receiving a list of names from the National Electoral Commission (NEC).”
But, on Thursday, Mr Mnyika denied to have nominated the sworn in members, saying no blessing has been issued by top leaders including him and Mr Mbowe.
“No one submitted names to the electoral body - and it’s not known who gave them permission to be sworn-in. Simply put: those who took the oath to be MPs must have selected themselves, not selected by the party,” he averred.
He added, “Ask them; or ask NEC, and ask the Parliament exactly who presented the list to the Speaker. No one will mention Chadema.”
When contacted on Tuesday, Nec director of Elections, Dr Wilson Charles said it was Chadema that should be asked issues of the sworn in members. But, yesterday he said in a press statement that the polls body received the list of the 19 from Chadema through a letter with reference number C/HQ/ADM/20/TU/05/141 dated November 19, 2020.
“NEC used the list submitted by Chadema to pick Party’s Special Seats MPs. Therefore, the MPs have been appointed in accordance with demands of the constitution and laws,” reads part of the statement.
On October 31, Chadema and ACT-Wazalendo issued a joint statement opposing election results and called for fresh polls. They also called for a nationwide protest to push for the invalidity of the results which gave victory to the ruling party and CCM’s presidential candidate John Magufuli of 84.4 per cent of the votes. CCM also won over 97 per cent of Parliamentary seats.
However, the protests didn’t bear fruits following a cordon by the police who rounded up and arrested Chadema membes across the country. Police chief Simon Sirro said some 270 Chadema members had been arrested over breach of peace.
and Louis Kolumbia TheCitizenTZ [email protected]