Why Lowassa lost in CCM nomination battle

Monduli MP Edward Lowassa addresses a rally at Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium in Arusha where he announced his intention to vie for the country’s top office early this year. Analysts say his airs of inevitability made him miss out as his party’s main man for October. PHOTO | FILE

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In some instances, he assured his supporters that there was no one within CCM who would dare to remove his name from the list of contestants during the vetting process

Dar es Salaam. Overconfidence and what was viewed in some quarters as contempt towards his party and some its top leaders is what cost the otherwise very able and popular former Premier Edward Lowassa the nomination as CCM presidential candidate, The Citizen can report.

Acting like an outsider, Mr Lowassa also undermined the power of CCM especially when it comes to making hard decisions, a trait which he used to distinguish himself from other aspirants.

He appeared to be too confident such that he did not make any alternative plan in case his mission failed. He reiterated in his speeches that for him, Plan A was winning, plan B was winning and plan C was also winning!

In some instances, he assured his supporters that there was no one within CCM who would dare to remove his name from the list of contestants during the vetting process. This is one indication that the former PM regarded himself as a candidate who only waited to be declared the winner at the appropriate time.

It appears that Mr Lowassa employed almost similar tactics as ten year ago when they strategised for his comrade, Mr Jakaya Kikwete, who managed to secure the ticket after the then chairman, Mr Benjamin Mkapa, failed to block him from winning the post.

Back then, Mr Kikwete formed a network within the party, popularly known as Mtandao in Kiswahili, which mobilised support from a majority of CCM members and supporters. This was done clandestinely and only a few people were aware of what was going on within the party.

Mr Kikwete also prepared a fall-back plan which was so dreadful that leaders within his party were left with no option but to make him their candidate.

In contrast, Mr Lowassa garnered the support so openly. While many who supported Mr Kikwete did not make any public statements showing their inclination, it was common for some party leaders and stalwarts to boast of their support for Lowassa in public. This helped the party to identify his (Mr Lowassa) lieutenants and chart the means of containing them.

While Mr Lowassa was busy building an institution within, his party was monitoring all his actions. While he was beaming with confidence given the level of support from within the party little did he know that he was providing his detractors within CCM with ammunition for his downfall.

Insiders from Mr Lowassa’s core team were also overconfident as they seriously underlined the party and its national chairman, Mr Kikwete. Earlier, the team was banking on direct backing from the national chairman given his close relationship with Mr Lowassa.

Though Mr Lowassa had employed a credible intelligence team, it failed on many fronts.

First, the team failed to read Mr Kikwete’s inner feelings and perceptions on who his successor should be. It was not until the very last minutes that the team realised that Mr Kikwete was not backing Mr Lowassa.

An air of apprehension hung over St Gasper Hotel a few hours after the Ethics Committee finished its meeting coming up with proposals that Mr Lowassa should be among the top contenders whose names would be forwarded to the Central Committee for consideration.

Worse still, reports reaching the team then showed that Mr Lowassa’s rival in the race, Mr Bernard Membe was Mr Kikwete’s choice as next Tanzania’s leader.

His intelligence team also failed to tap into the minds of the majority of members of the elders committee, which is made up of retired leaders; Alhaj Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Mr Mkapa, among others.

Until a few hours before CCM met, Mr Lowassa team was not aware of Mr Mkapa’s stand over the top contenders, while the former Head of State was among those who played a key role in picking the ruling contender for the next national leader. There was a sense of despair among the so-called Team Lowassa at St Gasper after the Ethics Committee report reached the camp especially after knowing that they didn’t have the capacity to influence the former leaders, whom Mr Kikwete entrusted to guide the party during the vetting process.