Time for the ruling party - CCM - to reactivate its ideology

Makwaia Wa Kuhenga

AT this point in time, the ruling Party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) is running elections for its mass organizations; its youth wing, (UVCCM) women organization (UWT) for the whole country and subsequently in the first week of December mainstream party leadership elections will take place at national level.

The good news there was as I am penning this perspective was the victory of the ruling party in grass root councilors’ vote at national level. And the good news also this week was the meeting of the ruling Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) in Dar es Salaam which was particularly good news for those who have been around the birth of this party way back in 1977.

For, in the recent past, it has been all-quiet–there has been no frequent meetings of the party’s top executive committees as was the case in the past. With the latest meeting of the ruling party’s executive committee and grass-root party elections taking place across the country, the concern that running of the country has been left in the hands of its top leadership in government alone is gone.

What everybody is waiting to hear now is whether this party, one of the oldest in Africa is destined for a rebirth of its erstwhile well-known ideology and grass-root outreach.

For, in the intervening period, this party seems to have been operating like a football club, reviving for exercises only when a next match is imminent, and in this context, only when new elections are inevitable!

In a competitive multiparty rule as existing in this country today, it is most urgent for a political party especially the ruling party to have its eyes and ears on the ground swimming with the people as fish does in the sea.

For those belonging to the old generation in this country, the old CCM chaired by founder President Dr Julius Nyerere was always most active with its central and executive committees; making periodical reviews on the social- economic landscape existing in the country and coming up with “wake-up” calls for its rank and file and the people generally.

During that time, we were able to see and read party documents titled “party guidelines” on the social-economic and political direction of the country. Were one to imagine the old good days with what is happening today, already the party should be waving a guideline document dubbed: ‘HAPA KAZI TU’ – it is only hard work here - promoting the vision of its new Party Chairman!

We will come back to this point later. The question one can ask today is: is the ruling party, CCM, oblivious of the concrete situation on the ground today? Has it any ideology normally attributed to political parties anywhere?

So what is the difference in terms of message and focus by the ruling party and the Opposition in place? What is the focus of the ruling party in the context of the social-economic landscape of this country in terms of the widening gap between the few filthily rich and the staggering poor majority in this country?

Which party in the competitive political landscape has a focus on this very obvious phenomenon in the country today-the gap between the haves and have-nots? Which party takes the plight of the poor of this country seriously as a permanent agenda?

Let us start with the ruling party, CCM. This party was founded on a firm ideology, namely Socialism and Self-reliance. It was also imbued with this motto from the word go: “the independence of this country is meaningless without the total liberation of Africa”.

It has, therefore, a rich history in its contribution to the liberation struggle in Africa against minority rule and apartheid. The free states in Southern Africa today must have the name of this party, CCM, in their roll call of honor.

But Tanzanians also, especially those of the old generation see in this party a country in safe hands. But does this party, CCM, read correctly the concrete situation on the ground today?

Even after its government was obliged to subscribe to International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) privatisation agenda four decades ago, has the party remained faithful to its actual owners, the peasants and workers of this country?

Those who watched the political landscape in this country in the last General Election in 2015 may have noted that the major political parties of this country, the ruling party and one from the opposition were ‘crowd pullers’ and the quantitative difference in the crowds they were able to pull was arguable!

But they must have also noted that the crowds that converged for one political party in the Opposition were mainly of youths mostly under 35-the majority being the youngest. What is it that youths of this country were attracted to the Opposition?

One may suspect it must have been one of the opposition parties’ confrontational stance: such as ‘mpaka kieleweke’ (a warlike slogan to come to the root of a given matter!] This slogan looked attractive especially to young people seen in the crowds the opposition was able to pull.

But was there anything substantive on alternative social- economic programs of the competing parties? The Opposition seemed to have focused on “ufisadi”-alleged thievery by those in public office!

And this was about all! What amused me was that whereas the leadership of one opposition political party preferred to don fatigues– the same attire Fidel Castro or Che Guevara would be comfortable with, this party in the Opposition had chosen to use helicopters to visit the people across the country!

But the people this party wanted to impress could hardly afford owning bicycles, isn’t it? But then what is the concrete situation on the ground in this country today? Reportedly in the run up to the General election two years ago, there were raging battles between peasants and herdsmen.

Most often than not, the headlines abounded of fights somewhere in the countryside between these two groups– peasants and herdsmen. As I am writing, and if you are a parent, you must be wondering what to do with your sons and daughters who have completed schooling and even some training but are rotting at the house with no where to go or no hope at all to win jobs!

You may agree this situation is the consequence of the privatisation agenda we swallowed hook, bait and sinker thrown to us by western powers via the IMF during the third phase Government.

Full-fledged capitalism is both inhumane and beastly–as we must have realized by now. You cannot oblige private firms to employ people nor oblige them to handle workers in a humane way. You are hired by word of mouth and fired accordingly by word of mouth.

This is capitalism! And we have massive unemployment in this country. The method of tilling land has not changed either it is still the hand hoe. And urban areas are full of young people, some of whom we see hawking this and that, making us wonder whether they are really able to eke a single decent meal a day.

In short we have become a nation of petty traders. At this point, this is the concrete situation on the ground in this country today. What follows now is to offer some pieces of advise to the ruling party-CCM–which Party most of us feel safe in its hands-as we have survived reasonably well over half a century on under its leadership.

My well considered advise is: the ruling party, CCM, should pursue its original agenda of concern for the majority poor of this country. This should be done consistently. The Party should strive to narrow the gap between the filthily rich of this country and the majority poor.

Any party anywhere has an ideology. What is wrong with the original ideology of this party– UJAMAA– Socialism with self-reliance as its backbone? After all, the literal translation of the word, ‘Ujamaa’ in Kiswahili is “Udugu” (Fraternity).

What is wrong with this? Already, the ruling Party Chairman today, Ndugu John Magufuli has an agenda to industrialise this country. This suits in well with his clarion call for hard work all the time– “Hapa Kazi tu”.

So the way forward for the ruling party now is to go back to its roots, revive the party’s ideology within the context of Tanzania’s social-economic characteristics.

The party’s organs, from the Central Committee to the National Executive Committee should meet regularly to review the social-economic pace of the country, supported by its grass-root network across the country. It should not appear to come to life only when elections are around the corner!

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