Somebody today asked me for my take on Mpendazoe’s defection from CCM to CCJ – Chama Cha Jamii, our latest opposition start up. Analysis at times like these is a fruitless exercise. Too much is built on happenstance and not even insiders have full information. The matters arising in the incident are not new: the influence of a rich and corrupt elite on CCM and its administration; the Richmond generators scandal and the Tanzania Railway Limited imbroglio. Important issues but nothing new has emerged.
What was notable was the language employed by the various characters. Mpendazoe himself looked for biblical parallels. From Habari Leo newspaper:
“CCJ is like Joshua who lead the people to Canaan. Nobody’s denying that CCM took us out of colonialism, it has done great work and made its mark but I say that it can’t give Tanzanians change for this century. We need new ideas. “
He also felt it necessary to respond to Sheikh Yahya Hussein’s prediction that any opponent to Kikwete will meet an untimely end. From Mwananchi:
People shouldn’t fear that anyone will die as he predicted by the authority of his lords of darkness.
Admittedly, I know how easy it is to get carried away when the microphones are switched on down at Maelezo. It is a heady experience.
John Shibuda MP – likely, and losing, contender for the CCM nomination – leaned heavily on biblical metaphor too. In a particularly convoluted text message to Mwananchi newspaper:
“To move from one church or mosque to another is not to abandon Islam or Christianity. In making this decision, he isn’t being disobedient to the government and he is not showing a lack of patriotism. Just because a believer has no bishop or sheikh isn’t to say he is lost to the Virgin Mary or the Prophet Muhammad. The wise dove conceals its wings”
The Chairman of CCM in Mpendazoe’s Shinyanga Region, Hamisi Mgeja, was more earthy – and the more powerful for that:
The Chairman said that Mpendazoe’s decision was like the journey of a crocodile, which will inevitably include some lizards. The fire started by the MP for Kishapu [Mpendazoe] is just brush fire.
And as we look at the reactions of those who are maybe closer to power we see, not surprisingly more evidence of modernity and its particular complications. With Pius Msekwa, CCM’s deputy chairman, it was a reminder of the balance of power, and not a little superior derision:
“CCM has 4,600,000 members and out of 320 MPs it has 270 so [the party] can hardly be troubled by the departure of just one….. Really? Is Mpendazoe a leader? Surely you must be joking?”
And as for Zitto Kabwe, for a Tanzanian MP with a Facebook account, it’s not surprising that his reaction to Habari Leo newspaper came over the internets and was distinguished by those modern concerns of strategy, conspiracy and due recompense.
The MP for Kigoma North, Zitto Kabwe, by way of the internet, said that the decision to join the opposition is a heroic one. “We welcome him. I have doubts about his strategy of coming out in a press conference and not at a rally in his constituency as he is about to lose his seat for the rest of this parliament. Maybe he suspected that somebody was out to get him, I had heard there was a Central Committee meeting…”
On the issue of end of parliament payments, he said that depends on how long the MP has been sitting. For an MP who dies his benefits are paid to his family.
There’s only one way this is all going, no?