Of the possible political chaos and the necessary changes

Tuesday November 23 2021

Former President Julius Nyerere follows proceeding at a past meeting. PHOTO | FILE

By Erick Mwakibete

One of the things that have continued to obsess this country in the multiparty era is the theme of change.

As the first general election of the returned multiparty era was beckoning, Mwalimu Nyerere speaking in an indoor CCM meeting, outlining the challenges facing the country, he told them that the country yearned for change.

He added if the voters won’t see that within CCM, then they will look elsewhere for the same.

Mwalimu argued that genuine opposition which will deliver changes the people yearn for will come from within CCM. What exactly he meant by that has been a matter of endless debates since then. Did he mean that progressive elements from within CCM will change their own political party by reforming it and in the process change the entire country? Or perhaps, he meant that CCM will break up and the political exiles will join another party or form a new one and usher in the changes the country desperately needs?

Or could he have meant something else entirely? Like the rank and file members taking the initiative of changing their own party and the direction of the country at large?

During the political wind that swept through the country heading into the 2015 general election, some commentators wondered whether the defections of that year from CCM to the opposition meant that Mwalimu’s political prophecy was being fulfilled. The theme was change. That did not come to pass.


However, some commentators, like the veteran journalist Jenerali Ulimwengu argued for something else entirely. He argued that for any meaningful change to happen in this country, the only choice was in the opposition. In a year like 2015, this was seen as a ‘controversial’ proposition.

Since 1995, CCM has had several political messiahs for the country, but the unfortunate reality is that some of these messiahs were without a message. Some who had the message were not the ‘right messiahs’ and had assembled teams of dubious disciples around them. Opposition parties too have had their own share of dubious messiahs in the same timeframe, with the majority of the political heavy hitters crossing the line from CCM.

Many voters have been disillusioned with lost visions and unattainable dreams.

This has created a long line of skeptics about the ability of opposition parties to deliver any meaningful changes to the country while they failed to do so when in positions of power in CCM and in government. Some of the proposed policies will lead to constitutional changes and may lead to fundamental changes beyond even the stated intentions of opposition parties. The political characters assembled to deliver changes to the country have questionable records and have failed to deliver anything meaningful in their own political parties.

How could they give the country something they have failed to do the same within their own political parties?

This is where it gets interesting. The current lineup of opposition politicians will never deliver changes the country desperately needs. Opposition parties are not representative of the large section of the population; many cannot see themselves represented by them. Many of their leaders are political opportunists with no clear vision for the country or even their own political parties but as strange as this sounds, there is little to no chance CCM will ever reform this country, ushering in the changes necessary to open up this country’s massive potential for growth.

Electing an opposition party to power will deliver political chaos, perhaps years of political in fights among the new rulers. This will be a step towards fundamental changes for this country. The long ruling CCM has come to be something like a pain relief medication every once in a while but not the needed cure for what is ailing this country. In some cases like those of fighting endemic and mega-corruption, CCM has proved to be the wrong medication entirely given after a wrong diagnosis.

An opposition party in power will not be an end in itself, but in a roundabout way it will lead to the reforms necessary for this country because it will do away with several political myths which have hung over this country as a legacy of the one-party state era.

Voters have been taken for granted for so long and their voices ignored. Casting their lot with a different political party than the one which has been there from the beginning might be a terrible bet in short term but one which delivers the required outcome in the long run.

Of course it is a terrible political gamble. But that is what it means being in charge of one’s own future.