The reassurances that CCM senior cadres gave President Samia Suluhu Hassan over her candidacy in 2025 during the just concluded party congress in Dodoma have only served to confirm the doubts that her candidacy in the next General Election is not guaranteed.
There have been rumours coming out of the rumour mill that factions within the ruling CCM were repositioning for the presidency in 2025.
And so senior figures within the party who spoke during the two-day congress felt that they need to reassure Samia of her candidacy.
Former President Jakaya Kikwete, former CCM secretary-general Yusuf Makamba and the party’s Vice Chairperson (Tanzania Mainland) Abdulrahman Kinana led the chorus assuring Samia not to worry about her chances of being CCM flag-bearer in 2025.
These are notable figures who have king-making roles in the CCM nomination process, pointing to the possibility that a serious fight is going on among different CCM factions ahead of 2025.
Perhaps no one spent as much time debunking these rumours and assuring Samia of her 2025 candidacy as Kikwete, who observed that Samia’s candidacy is guaranteed for there is no politician who is more popular than her within CCM.
“Honourable President, ignore these rumours claiming that there is this particular young man who will contest or that old man will contest,” Mr Kikwete told President Samia who doubles as CCM national chairperson. “It’s just nonsense.”
Mr Kikwete observed that he doesn’t see any CCM member offering himself or herself to challenge President Samia, outlining two factors why he thinks so: one, that is not CCM’s tradition and, two, no politician within the party is as popular as Samia.
But Kikwete outlined one condition that would force CCM members to challenge President Samia in 2025, opinionating that that would only happen if “things get much worse” between now and 2025, something he is certain “will never happen.”
It is obvious that ambitious politicians and kingmakers within CCM have had sights on 2025 well before President John Magufuli died.
When Samia took the oath of office on March 19, 2021, for instance, there were talks going around that hers was a one-term presidency.
She had to address the issue publicly soon after, saying that she was forced to re-read the Constitution just to be sure.
In fact, even her earlier cabinet reshuffles were a reaction to this kind of talk as she tried to edge out politically possible ‘pretenders to the throne.’
Moreover, the fall from grace of former Speaker of Parliament Job Ndugai in January 2022 after he criticised Samia for “celebrating foreign aid” was also understood to be in the context of 2025 as Samia herself alluded to.
The early anti-Samia rumours within CCM were thought to be emanating from the Magufuli camp’s bitter feelings of seeing the presidency ‘taken’ away from them.
After the camp was ‘neutralised,’ Samia became more and more comfortable with her presidential skin and her prospects.
But as politicking and underground ‘mobilization of resources’ by factions gained speed, some observers hinted that the focus was not 2025 but 2030. The 2025 ‘noises’ and repositioning could only be the launchpad for 2030.
But the atmosphere in the Dodoma congress strongly suggested that 2025 is the real deal.
Is Samia a liability to CCM?
The fact that 2025 seems to be an open front point to the possibility that various factions regard Samia’s candidacy as a liability in the next General Election.
Various factors seem to be behind Samia’s liability theory. They have nothing to do with Samia’s performance or non-performance on issues of economy and so forth.
The most notable factor is the prominence of the patriarchal system in the Tanzanian community. Some other factors that are fronted are non-essential and divisive in nature and are not worth mentioning here.
The gender issue is equally divisive, and frantic efforts must be made to dismantle the patriarchal system in Tanzania.
But it remains a fact that Tanzanian society and its politics remain deeply patriarchal. It could be that many CCM stalwarts think that the country is not yet ready to elect a woman as president.
Whether this is backed up by any scientific evidence – surveys and research – is difficult to tell. But Kikwete’s statement, “unless things get much worse” could point to people’s perception about electing a woman president.
In keeping its cards open about the 2025 candidacy, the underground CCM movements are projecting fierce competition from the opposition similar to that of 2015, which gave the oldest ruling party in Africa a run for its money.
Despite Magufuli’s anti-corruption credentials, CCM had a hard time convincing voters to vote for it.
The Sukumaland voting block is another headache for CCM. The region forms the largest voting block in Tanzania.
But while some ‘deranged’ politicians in the Sukumaland think the presidency was taken from them the region is also prone to the strongest patriarchal sentiments.
The heightened intra-CCM presidential activities towards 2025 will have the effect of keeping Samia in check in her quest for political reforms.
It is obvious that some within CCM are uncomfortable with Samia’s envisaged political and electoral reforms.Damas Kanyabwoya is a veteran journalist and a political analyst based in Dar es Salaam. He’s available at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DKanyabwoya. These are the writer’s own opinions and it does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of The Chanzo Initiative. Want to publish in this space? Contact our editors at email@example.com for further inquiries.