For nearly a decade, Chadema set the pace for all political parties including the long ruling CCM, which had to be on the defensive most of the time.
What catapulted Chadema into such an enviable place among political parties was the political reality of the day where most of their big talking points partly came from within CCM and its failure to provide the required leadership.
And, partly being the fact that Chadema was more focused and disciplined as it transformed from a political party into a movement whose leaders many times found themselves unsure of how to proceed forward but CCM did not tire to provide them with enough political munitions.
CCM more often than not was tied down with political infighting and its successive governments paralysed and failed to deliver on key issues like dealing with graft despite endless pledges during elections. Time after time, Chadema launched this or that “operation” in everyday’s plain language, one which the people easily related to. It came to be a party that represented and carried the visions and dreams of the many young people who felt long forgotten by the rulers.
Chadema symbolised a movement of liberating this country from itself for the most of the past decade.
It is easy to attribute the political success of Chadema to the public meetings they held throughout the country in the same way these public meetings revived CCM’s political fortunes in the twilight years of the Kikwete presidency.
This would underestimate the role of the agents and messengers of that era, as well as the contradiction on the part of the people who were receptive to Chadema’s message while never fully abandoning CCM, especially in the countryside.
Chadema lost its moral high ground during election campaigns and with it lost the plot and has failed and struggled for political relevance ever since.
In the early months of President John Magufuli’s leadership, Chadema national leaders claimed that the Head of State was implementing their election manifesto.
Along the way, in their efforts to reclaim their political footing they changed their language into accusing the president of “dictatorial tendencies” without ever retracting their earlier claim, something which leaves more questions than answers readily available. As CCM moved into a new chapter of its political history and dominance in our politics with President Magufuli ascending as party chairman, rejuvenating a party that almost split up a year ago, Chadema have failed to even admit the many organizational failures and poor decisions of their campaign last year, where they went as far as rejecting their part of their glorious past for political expediency.
CCM was attacked for so long for doing things the same way while expecting different, better outcomes. It seems Chadema is following the same path as it tries to reclaim the driving seat in our politics.
The circumstances which gave them the upper hand have been reversed and it appears that they are clueless as how to proceed from here forward, which would explain them trying to use the same political tactics which worked political miracles in the past.
Chadema’s reaction to political developments in the country today speaks more about the state of that party itself than the “dictatorial” situation they are trying to address.
It is a political party which was abandoned or kicked out some of its best political minds, with its leadership doing as much as they can to deflect and avoid dealing with their decisions and half-truths they peddled to people last year. Some of those who joined it much fanfare without ever understanding it, in less than a year they have returned to what they call their “home”.
The danger is Chadema turning into a party of urban elites dealing with issues which resonate well with them while sidelining the coalition of people that supported the movement that shook to its core one of the longest and most successful political parties in Africa. As Chadema’s chairman Freeman Mbowe announced plans for “a day of defiance”, he went out of his way to urge people to support them to the point of mentioning Adolf Hitler.
This same language failed to convince enough voters last year. It has failed to deliver them desired outcomes in their attempts to oust Parliament’s deputy speaker Dr Tulia Ackson.
To many of those who listened to Mbowe, they might have wondered, like I did, as to how Chadema ended up losing the plot to CCM, again!