“Unashika Dola, alafu unatumia Dola, kubaki kwenye Dola”
NOTE: I wrote this article in March 2020, planning it for my column “In My Humble Opinion” in The Citizen newspaper. However the column was abruptly cancelled by The Citizen. I found this article languishing in my “Drafts” and it hit me that everything I foresaw is unfolding — we were forewarned, but did we prepare? I believe that it was at this point in March that CCM realized and decided that it needs to remain in power at whatever cost:
Last week, Dr. Bashiru Ally, Secretary General of CCM, held a long interview at IPP media. I could not watch it in its entirety, I kept getting irritated. One section had really upset me, and I kept remembering it. So, I have decided to write about it:
“… if a wiser person comes and tells you not to use the state to remain in power, and you listen to him, the day you leave you will never return. So those, who are waiting for our use of the state to remain in power to lapse, will wait for a long time.”
This statement is so wrong, on so many levels, that it simply boggles the mind. I will not discuss these here. Rather I will try to sift it through some simple logic and common sense in the hope that this will inspire thought and maybe even action.
A “wiser person” warns against using the state, because said person understands how wrong and potentially dangerous this approach is. The bottom line being that some 30 million voters are denied their constitutional right to freely and fairly elect their leaders, and thereby determine their collective future. Deny them long enough, often enough or at the wrong time and what they cannot achieve peacefully, they will achieve violently. Btw, note the justification here: if CCM is voted out of power now, it will never get back in. By this logic, CCM would always be justified to use the state to stay in power because the argument “will never get back in” would presumably always apply.
Furthermore, by his choice of argument, Dr. Bashiru acknowledges that, given a free and fair election, CCM would be voted out of power now. Clearly, the reasoning here is that staying in power based on merit cannot be successfully argued; hence the choice of the “in the future” argument. An interesting twist here, the leadership of CCM faces an internal election. Clearly, the expulsion of aspiring presidential candidate Bernard Membe, the prohibition from holding any office and the public humiliation of ex-secretary generals Abdulrahman Kinana and Yusuf Makamba, mean that free and fair election is not to be allowed within the party either. Thus, the real issue here is not whether CCM can remain in power or not, but the much narrower self-interest of whether the chairman and the secretary general can retain their hold on the reigns of the party and the country or not.
Just to be clear, no party goes into an election without surveying and polling the electorate. It needs to know where it stands to formulate an effective strategy. CCM has more than enough resources to conduct very detailed and very reliable assessments. So, when the resulting strategy is to revert to illegality to stay in power, you can bet your last dollar that the incumbent and his administration have polled poorly. Neither would there be need for illegality if the assessment were that opinions could be changed. Afterall, CCM has a huge machinery and the resources to deploy a strategy to win “hearts and minds” back. Clearly, there are no reasonable explanations and logical arguments that would allow for this approach.
So, now we all know where we stand. No guesswork, no assumptions, we have been told point blank. Thus, it is not anymore about what “they” will do, but about what we, the people, will do. And here I had to change my editorial. I had a section about how the few were being beaten to keep the many in line. As well as how we, the people, must find a way to overcome our fears and impose our collective will. Because either we are citizens, masters of our collective destiny, or subjects, slaves to the whims of tyrants.
Then a wonderful event occurred. Tanzanians from all walks of life, from the entire spectrum of political affiliations, for a host of reasons, came together to collect funds to free the Chadema leadership. They did so openly, fearlessly and defiantly. Many posted their names and proof of payment, challenging the authorities to arrest them. By doing so, they proved that they see through the petty machinations of the incumbent and company; that they know living in a democracy, having opposition parties, having free and fair elections and getting rid of tyrants is worth sacrifice. Also, that they are past fear. And a people without fear are a people that cannot be controlled by terror tactics: beat on a few and you only anger the many. It was truly awesome. IMHO