Dar es Salaam. The internal squabbles within the opposition NCCR-Mageuzi party are intensifying following the decision by the party registrar to endorse the suspension of James Mbatia as the party’s national chairperson by a faction within the party, a decision embattled Mbatia called “illegal” on Wednesday.
In a letter sent to the party’s secretary-general on Wednesday, assistant party registrar Sisty Nyahoza endorsed all decisions passed during the party’s executive council meeting that took place on May 21, 2022, in Dar es Salaam.
Apart from suspending Mr Mbatia from the party’s chairmanship, the meeting also suspended the party’s vice-chairperson (Tanzania Mainland) Ms Angelina Mtahiwa. It accused the two, among other things, of planting discords within the party and of forceful resignation.
“NCCR-Mageuzi’s executive council meeting that sat on May 21, 2022, was legal according to the party’s constitution and regulations,” Mr Nyahoza, who was present during the disputed meeting, said in his letter. “Decisions made during [that] meeting are [also] legal.”
But Mr Mbatia told journalists during an impromptu press conference on Wednesday that he was still a legal national chairperson of NCRR-Mageuzi, accusing Mr Nyahoza of “deliberately planting discords” within the party and “trying to silence me.”
“I’m a legal [national] chairperson of NCCR-Mageuzi according to all laws and regulations governing political party activities in Tanzania,” Mr Mbatia said during the press conference. “I was accused, and convicted, without being provided with the right to defend myself. I did not even know that there was [the party’s] executive council meeting happening.”
According to the May 21 meeting, Mr Mbatia and Ms Mtahiwa are not allowed to take part in any NCCR-Mageuzi activities until a general meeting is convened on an unknown date.
In addition to the suspension of the leaders, the May 21 meeting also resolved to dissolve the NCCR Board of Trustees and appointed new members who will now be registered in accordance with the procedures.
But Mr Mbatia has refused to accept any of the resolutions. He said all resolutions arrived at the meeting are null and void because the meeting took place in violation of the party’s constitution and regulations.
“As a national chairperson, I was supposed to chair that meeting,” said Mr Mbatia, citing the party’s constitution. “But that was not the case. This whole fiasco is being coordinated by the office of the party’s registrar. There is a hidden agenda here.”
Mr Mbatia claimed to reach out to Mr Nyahoza to get some clarifications over his letter that leaked to the public and widely circulated on social media. But his efforts were futile after the assistant party registrar failed to pick up Mr Mbatia’s calls.
“I contacted the party’s registrar Francis Mutungi who luckily picked up my calls,” Mr Mbatia explained. “[Mr Mutungi] told me he knows nothing about the letter. We agreed to meet on Thursday to sort things out.”
In his letter, Mr Nyahoza warned Mr Mbatia against doing political activities under the umbrella of NCCR-Mageuzi, telling him that doing so is tantamount to engaging in criminal activities.
“I urge them to stop pretending that they are NCCR-Mageuzi’s leaders,” Mr Nyahoza wrote. “For doing so is a criminal offence.”
But Mr Mbatia considers Mr Nyahoza’s warning as a mere threat, aimed at silencing him.
“[Nyahoza] cannot wipe out my records of fighting for changes in this country. Nobody can rob me of what I believe in,” he told journalists on Wednesday. “I’ll stand on the truth and the truth shall keep me free. Even if that will come at the expense of my life, I’m prepared for that.”