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CCM, CHADEMA Row Over Stalled Reconciliation Talks

Kicking off in May 2022, the CCM-CHADEMA reconciliation process saw twelve meetings organised to improve political pluralism in Tanzania before they stalled in June 2023 for reasons the parties disagreed.

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Dar es Salaam. Reconciliation talks between the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and opposition party CHADEMA were confirmed to have stalled over the weekend, with each party accusing the other of being responsible for the unsatisfactory outcome of the process launched with much anticipation.

Talks between CHADEMA and CCM commenced in May 2022, almost two months since authorities dropped terrorism charges against CHADEMA national chairperson Freeman Mbowe to chart a new democratic future for Tanzania where all political players are treated equally and fairly.  

The talks, which resulted from CHADEMA’s rejection to participate in reconciliation efforts driven by the presidential task force, saw eleven meetings between CCM and CHADEMA to discuss twelve arguments CHADEMA put forward. The last of these meetings occurred on June 2023, Mr Mbowe revealed on October 1, 2023.

Speaking with CCM elders in Dar es Salaam on Sunday, CCM deputy national chairperson (Tanzania Mainland) Abdulrahman Kinana confirmed this during his two-hour speech dedicated entirely to addressing reconciliation talks between his party and CHADEMA, which sought to improve Tanzania’s pluralistic political culture.

In his October address to CHADEMA elders in Zanzibar, Mr Mbowe blamed the stalling of the reconciliation talks on CCM’s unwillingness to bring about necessary legal and political reforms in Tanzania, an argument he’d repeat on numerous occasions, accusing the second longest-ruling party in Africa of being interested in “cosmetic changes.”

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“CCM doesn’t mean what they say,” Mr Mbowe, whose meeting with President Samia Suluhu Hassan immediately after exiting prison set the stage for future engagements between CCM and CHADEMA, said. “After measuring their statements against their actions, we concluded that these people don’t mean what they say.”

Inappropriate language

But this is not what led to the stalling of the talks, Mr Kinana told CCM’s stalwarts who packed the Diamond Jubilee Hall on Sunday. He instead blamed the outcome entirely on the degrading and dehumanising language that senior CHADEMA leaders have been using during their public rallies against their CCM counterparts, including President Samia.

Mr Kinana spoke at length, accusing CHADEMA of going against their agreement that no insulting and dehumanising language should be used at public rallies, whose ban Samia lifted on January 3, 2023, which he said made it increasingly difficult for CCM to engage people who more interesting in demeaning them.

Kinana gave no specific example of these “insults” that he accused CHADEMA of but pointed out one scenario which seemed intolerable to most within CCM. And it concerned the party’s most senior leader, its national chairperson, President Samia.

“They were mentioning [Samia’s] name as if she were just a mere ordinary person,” Mr Kinana said of CHADEMA’s leaders, without pointing out the proper naming of the Head of State’s name. “We raised this concern several times with them but with no success. We stopped for fear of sounding hopeless.”

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The disintegration of the reconciliation talks between CCM and CHADEMA coincided with the leak of the intergovernmental agreement between Tanzania and Dubai, which would give the Emirati logistics company DP World control over some operations at the Dar es Salaam port, giving rise to the most heated debate that Tanzania had not seen recently.

CHADEMA took a front seat in opposing the deal, with Mr Mbowe becoming among the first people to issue a public statement against the deal on June 7, 2023, the same month in which CHADEMA and CCM would hold their last meeting, according to revelations from both parties.

Samia

Among many issues that Mr Mbowe raised in his June 7 statement included a charge against President Samia, a Zanzibari, to “sell off” Tanganyika’s properties while leaving those belonging to Zanzibar untouched. The statement caused an uproar among Zanzbaris and even a denial from Samia herself.

CHADEMA continued with this agenda for several months to come, touring the country and organising rallies on platforms of the anti-Dubai port deal and the New Constitution, which both parties have also cited as a reason for the reconciliation talks to bear fruit.

Mbowe, for instance, said CCM has no intention of providing Tanzanians with a New Constitution, leading to talks to stall. Kinana, on his part, claims CHADEMA wanted to “own” the process, a suggestion CCM rejected as it wanted the process to involve as many stakeholders as possible. Mbowe says this is not true.

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Following Kinana’s remarks on Sunday, CHADEMA deputy national chairperson Tundu Lissu, while in a rally in Geita, responded to insulting and degrading language accusations by accusing CCM of conflating legitimate criticism of President Samia with insults.

“It’s not the job of CHADEMA to praise the government or the ruling party,” Mr Lissu said. “Our job is to criticise them. And we’ll be doing that, and nobody can intimidate us. We’ll call a corrupt [leader] corrupt. We’ll call a thief, thief. We won’t praise anyone.”
Lukelo Francis is The Chanzo’s journalist from Dar es Salaam. He is available at lukelo@thechanzo.com.

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