Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Political responsibility: Why Central Committee was disruted to meet

What demonstrated that things were not going right in the high level CCM meetings to put together names for balloting to obtain the party's candidate for the presidency was the confusion on timetable of meetings.

There was a paralytic failure of observing schedules, from Wednesday morning to late evening on Friday, that is when some sort of schedule seemed finally to be getting off. Party chairman Jakaya Kikwete opened the central committee meeting at 7.00 in the evening, which should have been Thursday morning.

This meeting of the central committee did its work rather rapidly compared to what had taken place in the previous two days, and close to an hour after midnight it had wound up its business, ready to deliver its list of five names to the National Executive Committee (NEC).

This part of the procedure, which seemed odd to at least a few observers recalling what happened in 2005, wasn't hotly contested by the clearly aggrieved camps especially of ex-premier Edward Lowassa. It was the preliminary part they sharply contested.

'Team Lowassa' spokesman Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi, speaking in the company of fellow central committee members Adam Kimbisa and Sophia Simba, said the central committee was given 'just a few names,' which means perhaps about ten out of the close to 40 names presented for discussion.

It means that the proper scrutiny and elimination was conducted by the party secretariat via its Ethics and Security Committee, instead of the central committee. It also means that the latter was not in a position to do the proper scrutiny of names.

It would thus follow in that sense that the failure of the procedure outlined at first to be followed arose from inability of the central committee to conduct the task that the party leadership in the sense of chairman and secretariat wanted it to do.

Had the names been presented so that only five come out of the central committee, it is what Dr Nchimbi called the popularity test that would have carried the day.

The leadership wanted to privilege party values.
In that context the central committee did not conduct its work as required in the format of regulations designed for this year's nomination process, which is already vastly different from the process applied in 2005.

 In that instance, the work of the central committee was to eliminate any names that the party or committee members, the chairman with their support, thought was going to be negative for the party, to be put to the ballot or even nominated. Thus ex-premier John Malecela was prevented from the beginning from contesting.

Noticeably as well, this preliminary elimination stage took place before the various aspirants took forms to seek endorsement by party members, at that time from ten regions, not 15 regions.

This did not happen at this time as the party leadership, aware of its specific designs, could not unveil that element too early as it would have split the party at an anfavourable moment, whereas to say that someone has been 'cut' looks like a matter of luck, a lottery.

That is why JK was saying 'those who will be dropped should not become angry at us.'

Only at the last moment of approving names was it possible to say who has been removed, not because they are not fit for balloting but because the party leadership does not want them.

Procedurally, that should have come before the picking up of forms and seeking endorsements, as allowing someone to do that is to commit oneself - the party leadership - that it will respect the wishes of the members endorsing that aspirant.

It means that following that initial clearance, any eliminations had to be in an open vote, not by 'cutting...'

The task of pruning in open vote falls upon the NEC as the party equivalent of Parliament, while the central committee is but a security organ, and the so-called security and ethics committee an advisory unit that should report to the central committee, not make any decisions.

That is the core of miscarriage of procedure that made it impossible for the central committee to meet, but in the final moments they did the chairman's bidding, by scrutinising the list that he gave them. He was also reported to be chairing the ethics committee.

In the 2005, where the contested candidate was JK and he seemed to have replicated what was being done at that time, and with the same individuals in party leadership - Philip Mangula now as vice chairman and Nape Nnauye now as publicity secretary - in equally targeting the 2015 popular candidate.

In other words JK failed to emulate ex-party chairman Benjamin Mkapa in protecting the popular candidate against the wish of the politburo security organ, with its list of shadowy values.

Reports from Dodoma had it that the widow of the Father of the Nation, Maria Nyerere, had to fly to Dodoma on Thursday afternoon to meet with the party chairman, and it does not appear that she succeeded to restore a sense of balance in its proceedings.

The idea was to defend the unity of the party, which in all appearances the central committee was so focused too, but the party leadership had fixed its sights.

When everything has been done to obtain a particular result in the nomination run and not to observe the procedure as fair and above board, that there is no evident miscarriage of trust or popular expectations except via an open ballot, the rest can be predicted.

As a result, the party security and ethics committee, which is not an organ of the party in terms of decision making but singularly an advisory unit which presents data on popular sentiments and perceptions of state organs on the candidates, made key decisions. It isn't the procedure.

In terms of the constitution, and even with abrogation of the 2005 procedure where all aspirants who returned forms that are properly filled would be pruned by vote in NEC, even if this was done in the central committee, still it wasn't done that way.

The party leadership did not just want a pruning but with a fixed objective, which wasn't shared by the majority of the committee.

So an advisory unit, tasked with research and compiling reports, replaced the central committee - and indeed NEC - in reducing the candidates to, say, ten.

There are hence considerable avenues of contesting what are now billed as central committee decisions, whereas in actual fact the latter group provided the icing to the cake, which was entirely baked by the secretariat.

It means that the secretariat has become the party, and ethos of democracy that have been cultivated since the early 1990s have been cast aside, including sheer warnings from Mwalimu Nyerere.

He once made an observation that when the party rejects a popular candidate - because of commerce that needs to be protected by the one inheriting the State House - it will descend into tears that no one will be able to wipe them from its eyes. That is the formal loss of state power; it's what evidently beckons if CCM comes to formal split like KANU.