When concluding the 10th National Congress of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) on December 8, 2022, the party’s chairperson, Samia Suluhu Hassan, warned of factions within the second longest-ruling party in Africa.
Samia, who doubles as the president of Tanzania, told her fellow CCM members not to allow elections and activities accompanying them to divide them and enable cracks to form in the party that has ruled Tanzania since 1961.
“There is pettiness in our party,” CCM’s first female chairperson intoned. “CCM members who originated from our party would not focus on pettiness and destroy their party.”
Samia must already have observed what was building up in the ranks of CCM that, as days passed, it revealed itself for everyone else to see. Paying attention to what has been happening lately, either new factions are emerging, or the old ones are re-strategising.
For a while, there have been observable attacks between CCM top brass holding vital ministerial positions. Strangely, it is a conflict without official allies and is fought corvertly.
Majaliwa, Nchemba and Makamba
The first attacks are those that target Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa. These attacks have been appearing regularly, involving leaking various information claimed to be associated with the Ruangwa MP (CCM).
The audience has ignored the information which appears to spread through social media due to its randomness and observable inauthenticity.
It is difficult to see the exact purpose of the attacks. However, some observers have associated them with the CCM activities in the Parliament. This is because Mr Majaliwa, PM since 2015, also serves as the leader of all CCM MPs.
Minister of Finance and Planning Mwigulu Nchemba also features in these factional battles. MP for Iramba West (CCM) since 2010, observers describe Mr Nchemba as someone who has been able to play the game of politics well.
This is not an overstatement. Despite serving in the previous administration as a minister, Mr Nchemba is among very few ministers who have maintained their influence under the current administration. It is due to this fact that he has been on the receiving end of attacks lately.
His influence has made him a target, with others fearing that the economist-cum-politician is building an even more robust network to support and finance future political ambition, which includes the republic’s presidency.
Mr Nchemba, who unsuccessfully sought CCM’s permission to vie for the presidency in 2015, receives most of the attacks from the Parliament and social media.
Here I am only focusing on strategic messaging, distinct from criticism to demand accountability. While both might use the same issue, strategic messaging appears more coordinated.
For example, look at the Kisesa MP (CCM) Mr Luhaga Mpina, whose criticism of Mr Nchemba reveals that there is more than meets the eye in his criticism of the fellow CCM lawmaker.
And then there are attacks directed at the Energy Minister and Bumbuli MP (CCM) January Makamba. A presidential aspirant himself, Makamba has on several occasions received vicious attacks from his fellow CCM members, online and offline.
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The warring factions within CCM crave public support, as seen in how they publicly involve themselves in attacks and counter-attacks. But public support on what?
Eyes on 2030
Many observers point to elections in 2025 and 2030 as a key factor driving this ‘war’, especially in the CCM’s internal election to obtain its presidential candidate for the 2030 election.
Most players look at 2025 as a bridge toward 2030 after President Samia confirmed that she will stand for election in 2025, reasonably consolidating power in the party and government as the election nears.
Presidential aspirants within CCM have figured out that if they remain relevant during this period, they can easily plan for the 2030 journey.
In reducing political pressure, Samia has consistently assured her cabinet that she doesn’t plan to remove them from their posts and wants to provide ample time for cabinet members to perform, but she has not succeeded.
That social media serve as the site for the ongoing factional battles with CCM is another reminder of how the platforms are key to strategic political communications in Tanzania. And there is a precedent for this.
Social media have proved to be an effective tool for dissenting, getting messages going, and setting an agenda, as was evident during the previous administration under the late John Magufuli.
During that congress in the capital Dodoma, former President Jakaya Kikwete warned of spreading lies as the election nears, warning President Samia to expect to watch more fake news spread towards the election.
“These rumours, Madam President, will be a lot from now until 2025,” Kikwete, who served as Tanzania’s president from 2005 to 2015, told Samia during the party congress.
“Some will come to you while swearing to God that there are people ‘meeting.’ But, surprisingly, it’s them and their fellow fools who are meeting,” Mr Kikwete added.
Many anticipate, having analysed the trend of issues and politicking, a wave of scandals involving politicians will rock the nation around late 2023 to mid-2024 and the dawns of 2025, this will involve scrapping and leaking of any information that seems to be secret and damaging to the counterpart.
There will also be a lot of misinformation, especially using social media, and information technology will likely be used extensively.
The primary purpose will be to force the hand of the Head of State into acting, especially by removing a few individuals near corridors of power. But also to show that some government officials are a liability to Samia’s candidature in 2025.
Tony Alfred K is a political analyst based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @tonyalfredk. These are the writer’s own opinions, and they do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of The Chanzo Initiative. Do you want to publish in this space? Contact our editor at email@example.com.