Whatever reforms are on its drawing board, there is one very important element that this political party, which has been running this country almost since independence, needs to re-assert and clarify. For a political party anywhere must have an ideology, a creed, to which its members subscribe.
So, if we are talking of CCM as a political party, what is the ideology of this party today? Is it left wing or right wing? Is it ‘centre- right’ or ‘centre-left’ to use the internationally used clichés that describe political parties the world over? What is the motivation of a given individual to subscribe to a political party anywhere in the world?
Does an individual subscribe membership of a given party just because one is attracted by the “popularity” of a given leader at the leadership of that party? Clearly, people do not follow a person. Because they have a conscience individually, they most often subscribe to an ideology, to a philosophy of a given political party.
CCM is more than thirty five years old today, actually because it is a continuation of the old nationalist party, the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) for mainland Tanzania and Afro- Shirazi Party (ASP) for Zanzibar, it is more than half a century old. The original creed of CCM is that this will be a party for peasants and workers and its ideology will be Socialism and Self-reliance. Period.
This is the creed of this party. The literal translation of this party from Kiswahili is ‘Party of the Revolution’. It is a revolutionary party. In the intervening period between its founding and up to 1987 during the tenure of its first Chairman and founder President of this country, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, this party was, in words and action, a real revolutionary party. Internally, it had identified itself with its class owners, the peasants and workers.
Most importantly, it had identified itself with the have-nots in society. Internationally, it had identified itself with other revolutionary parties across the world, liberation and anti-imperialist movements. I can see someone reading these lines raising his eyebrows! Yes, this party was antiimperialist!
Whereas, it was known long ago that this country had immense mineral resources, for example, the old leadership of this party was content to leave them untapped for the simple reason that it was not sure of a fair deal with multinationals, the hidden hands of imperialism, once these minerals were exploited.
Now our people are being made to sing a song that says something like “malaria is unacceptable” -- hence free mosquito nets while our minerals are being ripped away, and at a pittance called “royalty” -- which is nothing close to equity shares! So, we saw a CCM that had a creed that was espoused.
It had also well-outlined ethics, which required its members, especially those in the leadership of the party and the state, to scrupulously adhere. Among such ethics was to forbid a holder of public office to run business at the same time. These set of principles of the ruling party were as good as they lasted and they lasted pretty soon.
The ascendancy of neo-liberalism in the nineties, actually a carrot and stick ploy by imperialist powers using their most convenient arms, the World Bank and IMF to impose capitalism on the country in the name of free market meant the end of this dignified road. It was no longer seen as contradictory for a holder of public office to also run businesses at the same time.
Unfortunately, there was no resistance on the part of the leadership that succeeded Mwalimu Nyerere and in fact the enthusiasm to implement the neo-liberalism agenda gained higher gear. The song that “privatisation is an engine of economic growth” was relayed more tellingly! Or my foot!
So the dictum that economics always dictated the political agenda, the ‘original’ CCM, as we knew it, went a long time ago. In my book, ‘CCM na Mustakabali wa Nchi yetu’ (CCM and the Destiny of our Country) published in 2005, the collapse of the creed of the ‘original’ CCM is detailed. The book enumerates things such as an open door policy to admit into the party those who defect from the opposition who are, in turn, rewarded by public posts here and there!
In my opinion, the party seems to have ceased to speak for the have-nots in this country inspite of the dangerously widening gap between the filthily rich minority and the staggering poor majority. Modesty, which was a trademark of this party, even in clothing style by the leadership, has been abandoned. In the ‘old’ CCM and its successive governments, we saw a fiercely independent country, keeping all powers at arm length, working with them all, but able to tell them off in their face should they go wrong somewhere.
But this is now history as is the self-reliance creed by this party now forgotten. Actually, “wafadhili” “donor community” is the favourable catchword today and nobody seems ashamed of the consequence of being dependant and at 40 per cent of the national budget for that matter! So the heading of this perspective today is pertinent because it is food for thought for this party as it embarks on structural reforms.
The choice before it is to reassert its original stance as a political party or to wallow in its current posture as a party for elections only. Clearly, and in the long run, the latter stance is unsustainable.