TOWARDS the end of 2017; some individuals actively started an unethical campaign for the ‘desecration’ of the country’s Constitution.
It all started when it was reported in the print media that “a CCM cadre, Lawrence Mabawa, made public his campaign which he branded as “Baki Magufuli”.
It was further reported that a Member of Parliament, Juma Nkamia , had joined the bandwagon when he revealed, in a WhatsApp posting, his plan to file a ‘Private Member’s motion’ in the next session of Parliament, calling for a change to be made in the Constitution of the United Republic, in order to make new provision for three Presidential terms of office, instead of the existing two terms”.
Then on 13th January, 2018; an curt statement issued from State House, Dar es Salaam, announcing President Magufuli’s firm response to these campaigns; when he said the following: “I am not interested in staying on after the expiry of my two terms . . .
In my solemn oath upon taking office, I vowed to abide by the Constitution. There is no way I can lead the country for more than ten years. That is just impossible. I must respect the Constitution”.
Following the President’s response to such unethical campaigns, I joyfully wrote an article, in which I said thus: “by this announcement, President Magufuli has firmly closed the door to any such thinking, planning, or even maneuvering by anyone, towards that objective”. I even borrowed the famous Latin expression which is dominant in the teachings of the catholic church, namely “Roma locuta, causa finita”.
But, alas, this campaign was resurrected in the National Assembly during the debate on the 2020/21 Government budget. I was contacted by some journalist and asked to express my opinion on this matter; and my response was the same as before, namely that “ It is an unethical proposal for the desecration of the country’s Constitution, and an undisciplined disregard of the President’s candidly expressed opinion, firmly rejecting this idea”.
CHADEMA’s constitutional cases
“CHADEMA files constitutional cases” was the big news reported by THE CITIZEN Newspaper of Wednesday, 28th February, 2018; which reported as follows: “The main Opposition political party CHADEMA, has filed two constitutional cases, through which they are questioning the legality of certain political conduct in the country.
Specifically, they are questioning the legality of Presidential appointees like the District Executive Directors (DeDs), also acting as Returning Officers during elections”. The report quoted Makongoro Mahanga, the Ilala CHADEMA District Chairman, as having said the following: “We have started with two cases, but within a period of two months, we will have filed at least ten such cases”.
I wrote an article praising this action by CHADEMA, in which I said the following “This action by CHADEMA is indeed commendable, for it is a welcome departure from their hitherto wholly unproductive methods of merely making public statements, or condemnations, of alleged breaches of Constitutional provisions.
Such statements do certainly attract public attention, but they have always left the disputed matters undetermined. This constitutional litigation will have the positive outcome of enabling the relevant courts of competent jurisdiction to determine those matters which are in dispute”.
Unfortunately, however, the promised ten constitutional cases were never filed; and thus, the expected outcomes did not materialize.
This reminded me of that famous British Statesman, Sir Winston Churchill’s statement, that “politics is the ability to tell what is going to happen tomorrow, or next week, or next year; and the ability to explain afterwards why it did not happen”. But Makongoro Mahanga never explained afterwards why the promised ten cases were not filed as promised.
President Magufuli’s innovative style of leadership
“MAGUFULI TAPS ELDERS’ WISDOM” was the eye-catching front page headline of the DAILY NEWS of Wednesday, 4th July, 2018. That Paper was reporting on President John Magufuli’s historic meeting with the former leaders of all the three pillars of state governance on the previous day.
One event of significant importance which occurred on 3rd July, 2018, was when President Magufuli demonstrated his new and innovative style of leadership; namely, his determination “to tap the Elders’ wisdom”. It was a wholly unexpected, and totally unprecedented event.
On 3rd July, 2018, President Magufuli convened a historic meeting with all the former top-leaders (who are now in honourable retirement) of all the three ‘Pillars of State’, namely the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary. The meeting was also attended by the current leaders of those Institutions. The former leaders of the three ‘pillars of state governance’ who attended that meeting, were the following:-
• From the Executive Branch, came former Union Presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi; Benjamin William Mkapa. (Former Union President Jakaya Kikwete sent his apologies for inability to attend, as he was out of the country). But also present was the former Union Vice-President Mohamed Gharib Bilal; and former Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume.
Then there were all the six former Prime Ministers: Cleopa David Msuya; Salim Ahmed Salim; Joseph Sinde Waioba; John Sammuel Malecela; and Mizengo Peter Pinda.
• From the Legislative Branch, came the two former Speakers, Pius Chipanda Msekwa; and Anne Semamba Makinda.
• From the Judiciary Branch, came all the three former Chief Justices: Barnabas Samatta; Augustine Ramadhani; and Mohamed Chande Othman.
But also in attendance were the current leaders of two Branches: The President himself; Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa; and Speaker of the National Assembly Job Ndugai. The current Chief Justice had sent his apologies for inability to attend. It was, no doubt, a very distinguished gathering of ‘Elders’; and was reminiscent of a famous old African adage, of “African Elders in their village sit down under a tree and talk, until they agree”.
The unprecedented defection of Opposition MPs to CCM
In parliamentary parlance, the action of an MP defecting from his political party to another party of his choice, is called “crossing the floor”. This is because of the traditional seating arrangements within the British House of Commons, where the Ruling party members sit on one side of the House; while the Opposition party members sit on the opposite side, with a stretch of the House floor separating the two sides.
Thus for an MP who changes his party affiliation, it means that he has to cross this floor, in order to join the party MPs sitting on the opposite side. This, indeed is an accepted normal practice in all the Commonwealth Parliamentary jurisdictions.
During the year 2018, Opposition members of Parliament started “crossing the floor”, to join the Ruling party CCM. All of those who spoke to the Press about their actions disclosed that they had been attracted by President Magufuli’s excellent performance, and had decided to show their support and encourage him by joining his political party.
But there were also those who misinterpreted this action, by wrongly claiming that this was CCM’s strategy “to kill the Opposition” in Parliament.
In response to these misconceived opinions, I wrote a special article for the DAILY NEWS, aimed at stating the factors that normally motivate MPs to “cross the floor”; in which I explained the factors that motivate MPS defections to other political parties, as follows:-
“The motives will inevitably vary between the MPs concerned; depending on the individual person, and the political circumstances obtaining at the material time. But generally speaking, they revolve around two distinct factors, namely the “push” factors on the one hand; and the “pull” factors on the other.
The ‘push’ factors are those unbearable conditions which literally ‘force’ a person to quit a given organization to which he belongs; and the ‘pull’ factors are those attractive conditions which would induce a person to join an Organization . . . with regard to the recent defections by Opposition MPs to the Ruling party, we have heard it ‘live’ from the defectors themselves, claiming to have been ‘utterly disappointed by the leadership of their erstwhile parties’ (the ‘push’ factor; or that they have been attracted by President Magufulis’s impressive efforts in guiding the affairs of our nation, and, specifically, his handling of the development agenda. We have no palpable reason to doubt the sincerity of their statements”.
In confirmation of the reality of this “pull’ factor, defections from the Opposition parties to the Ruling party vastly increased during the period approaching the dissolution of the 11th Parliament.
The events of 2019
On 5th November, 2019; President Magufuli completed four years of his first term as President of the United Republic. For several days prior to that date, the DAILY NEWS published an advertisement titled “ President Magufuli’s four legendary successful years”; in which they promised to publish, on 5th November, 2019; a special supplement to mark that event, and invited members of the public “to express their candid opinions in assessing President Magufuli’s performance during that period”.
This advertisement received a very good public response; and what we eventually saw in that special supplement, was a vast array of opinions from a wide variety of commentators, including renowned academicians such as Professor Patrick Lumumba, and many others.
I was motivated to write an article for the DAILY NEWS; in which I expressed my appreciation of the action taken by that Paper. For it reminded me of the Biblical saying in Luke 9, 18 – 21, regarding the story of Jesus asking his disciples the question: “what does the assembled congregation say that I am ?” Thus, asking the people to make an assessment of their leader is the most reliable method. And, basically, that is also the purpose of this year’s Presidential election: to make an assessment of President Magufuli’s performance.
(Will be continued next week)
piomsekwa@gmail,com / 0754767576.