Defections by Politicians and their reasons: A commentary on Lazaro Nyalandu’s resignation
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MHESHIMIWA Lazaro Nyalandu, member of the CCM National Executive Committee and member of Parliament for Singida North Constituency, announced to the public on Monday 30th October, 2017, that he had defected to the main Opposition party in Parliament, CHADEMA; and further that he had also tendered his resignation letter from membership of Parliament to the Speaker of the National assembly, Hon Job Ndugai.

His sudden move quickly became the main subject of discussion on social media platforms, as various commentators offered their views on the matter. I was similarly motivated to give my own personal views, and that is the purpose of my article today.

With regard to his resignation from membership of Parliament, the position is that according to the provisions of article 149 (2) of the Constitution of the United Republic, the resignation of a Member of Parliament becomes effective immediately upon receipt of his resignation letter by the Speaker.

No decision of any kind is required on the part of the Speaker. And it was, in fact, not even necessary for him to write that resignation letter to the Speaker. His defection announcement alone was enough to throw him out of Parliament, as provided for in article 71 (1) (f) of the country’s Constitution.

As shown in its heading, the purpose of this article is to discuss “Defections by politicians, and their reasons”. We will now proceed to analyse Lazaro Nyalandu’s defection to CHADEMA, and his stated reasons.

Nyalandu’s reasons for resignation The DAILY NEWS of Tuesday 31st October, 2017 which quoted Mr, Nyalandu’s statement, reported as follows:- “Mr. Nyalandu said he had taken the decision after realising that the National Assembly was no longer free as it used to be, and that this important pillar of government was being interfered with by the Government and other state organs”.

He is quoted further as follows: “I have also realised that without a new and free Constitution, it will be very difficult for each of the three pillars of governance to operate independently, because it is only through Parliament and the Judiciary there are reasons why the country can exercise democratic and fair leadership”.

While the CITIZEN added that “the MP said that he was leaving CCM because of that party’s failure to supervise the Government, expressing his dissatisfaction with human rights violations.

The lawmaker also said that there was no clear separation of powers between the three pillars of state, i.e. the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary, saying that we need a new Constitution that will help us attain our goals and strengthen democracy in the country”.

The need to state reasons for a decision It is a fairly common practice to give reasons for a decision made. For example, in the law courts, there is a general duty to state reasons for a judicial decision which has been made, so that the relevant parties may know precisely why they won, or lost.

But in the political field, whenever politicians decide to defect from one political party to another, they tend to ‘invent’ some plausible explanation, so that their decision may appear to be right and reasonable.

This is normally done by avoiding to mention the true motives behind their decisions. And Mr Nyalandu is no exception; as I will endeavour to explain here below.

The true motives for political defections It is my submission here that the true motives which propel politicians into making decisions to defect to other political parties are the following two: (i) political AMBITION; and (ii) political FRUSTRATION.

These motives are usually avoided in the public statements made by the relevant defecting leaders, for the simple reason that they will expose these personal weaknesses, which should best be kept away from the public domain.

Political ambition The word ‘ambition’ is defined as ‘a strong desire to achieve something’. And in relation to political ambition, it is a strong (sometimes insatiable) desire to acquire political power.

Hence, it is a ‘pull’ factor, in the sense that the politician is being pulled towards achieving political power, which he inherently has ‘a strong desire to achieve’.

That is what accounts for the actions taken by our former prominent politicians like one Zuberi Mtemvu who, in 1958, walked out of TANU to form his own party called the African National Congress (ANC), of which he became the leader; and one Kasanga Tumbo, who in 1963, defected from TANU to form his own political party called the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), of which he became the leader.

They were ‘pulled’ to their respective targets by what they saw as an opportunity to compete with Nyerere, with a possibility of replacing him from the leadership of the country.

There was also Mr Oscar Kambona, Secretary-General of TANU and a senior Minister in President Nyerere’s Government who, in 1967, decided to resign from all his positions in the party as well as the Government. He is presumed to have harboured a secret ambition to replace President Nyerere as leader of the country.

But the adoption of the Arusha Declaration earlier that year had derailed his ambition, for the Arusha Declaration so vastly increased Nyerere’s popularity, both within and outside the country, that Kambona quickly realised that his secret ambition could not be achieved any time soon.

So he announced his res ignations and fled the country, to go and live in exile in London, from where he openly continued his political battles against President Nyerere.

Those were the days of the “One-Party” political system, so there was no other party to which he could have defected. My list also includes other politicians who came later, like Mr Augustine Mrema, who in 1995 defected to the Opposition party NCCR-MAGEUZI, having been ‘pulled’ there by what he saw as a ‘guaranteed opportunity’ for him to achieve his ambition of becoming President of the United Republic of Tanzania, after having realised that there was no such ‘guarantee’ within CCM.

Political frustration On the other hand, ‘Political frustration’ is a ‘push factor’, in the sense that it tends to push a politician whose ambition is to acquire power at a given leadership level to go and try his luck elsewhere, after the doors have been closed on him within CCM.

And that indeed, is what accounts for a significant number of CCM Members of Parliament (MPs) who, over the years since the re-introduction of multi-party politics in Tanzania, have opted to defect to their chosen Opposition political parties. Such examples include those who in 2010 were representing constituencies in Maswa District, who, after failing to secure nomination as CCM candidates for the Parliamentary elections of that year, decided to defect to CHADEMA, and thereby fulfilled their ambitions, by getting elected on CHADEMA tickets.

This is also what accounts for the two former Prime Ministers Edward Lowassa and Frederick Sumaye, who also defected to CHADEMA in 2015, after having failed to secure nomination for election as CCM Presidential candidates.

They both decided to go and try their luck elsewhere, and they chose CHADEMA. But what was their stated reason? It was simply that they wanted ‘change’, without actually specifying what kind of change they were seeking out there.

But it soon became obvious, that they just wanted a change of the ruling party, from CCM to CHADEMA. Nyalandu’s defection to CHADEMA No one is actually criticising Lazaro Nyalandu’s action of defecting to CHADEMA, or to any other political party of his choice, for that is his constitutional right which cannot be questioned.

But even article 13 (1) (f) of the CCM Constitution, 1977 (as amended from time to time), makes provision which permits any party member “to join any other political party” if he wishes to do so.

This is one way of surrendering his CCM membership. That is not the question at all. In these discussions, we are only looking at his motives in doing so, in the light of his own stated reasons.

Nyalandu’s stated reasons We have quoted above some media reports of Lazaro Nyalandu’s stated reasons for his defection to CHADEMA, namely that “Parliament has lost its independence to the Executive Branch, and also that he wants a new Constitution, which he claims, will be the ‘panacea’ of all our socio-political evils. As we have asserted above, these are no more than feeble attempts to “invent some plausible explanation, so that his decision may appear to be right and reasonable”.

This is so because there is really nothing new, i.e. there is no original thinking, in his statement of those reasons, for he was merely replicating the largely worn out, stereotype views, of the Opposition camp on these matters; presumably in order to endear himself to the camp which he has decided to join.

Some of us who have closely observed his political ‘comings and goings’, do hold the view that the true, but undisclosed motive for his defection, can only be attributed to the “frustration syndrome” which we described above.

In his particular case, that frustration arises out of his having been dropped from the coveted position of Minister for Natural resources and Tourism. And indeed, this was by no means a sudden decision.

As some commentators who spoke to the DAILY NEWS regarding his action are reported to have pointed out, there are certain clear signs which indicate that he has, for quite some time, been taking calculated steps in the direction towards that goal.

“Looking at his recent statements against the Government, one could have detected what would happen” said Professor Gaudence Mpangala of Ruaha Catholic University(RUCU).

In our established legal regime, there is a statute which is cited as the ‘Law of Contract Act’, which makes provision for what are known as “frustrated contracts”, and their consequences.

‘Frustrated political ambitions’ also have their consequences, the most common of which, is defection from the political party where the frustration occurred. Most, if not all of the political defectors from CCM, including Lazaro Nyalandu, are ‘victims’ of this ‘political ambition/political frustration’ syndrome.

May the Lord God grant them peace. Nyalandus’ defection has no effect on CCM CCM has a membership of over six million members. Lazaro Nyalandu was only one of them, and, as the saying goes, ‘not the only pebble on the beach’.

Thus, his departure, like that of the many others who defected to the Opposition political parties before him, can have no effect whatsoever on CCM’s great political strength; and his now vacant leadership positions will be quickly filled. We wish him a comfortable stay in his new political environment.

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