Early Saturday morning, the central committee of Tanzania’s ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), in its meeting, approved five presidential aspirants; January Makamba, Asha Rose Migiro, Amina Salum Ali, John Magufuli and Bernard Membe, leaving out former Prime Minister, Edward Lowassa, who has been the clear front runner from the beginning of the process.
The Citizen quotes three members of the central committee who attended the meeting, Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi, Adam Kimbisa and Sophia Simba saying they opposed the nomination procedures that were used to come up with the five names because the procedures were in violation of the party’s constitution.
The CCM constitution demands that the names of all aspirants who returned nomination forms be tabled in the central committee meeting, which then vets them and comes up with five names.
But it seems the Ethics and Security committee meeting which met in the afternoon on Friday did the vetting and came up with few names.
“We hereby declare that we do not agree on the decisions of the meetings because the party’s regulations and constitution, which say that the central committee is the first meeting to start vetting aspirants in the nomination process, have been violated,” Nchimbi noted is quoted as saying.
He added: “We informed the meeting that we do not agree with the decision reached because it also violates a section of the constitution that says the central committee would give special consideration to the front-runner or front runners in the nomination contest.”
Lowassa who resigned as Prime Minister in the wake of the Richmond scandal in February 2008 attracted huge crowds in his campaign events and collected hundreds of thousands of endorsements from party members instead of the 400 required to qualify for nomination.
CCM party, according to The Citizen, split even before the National Executive Committee (NEC) convened as senior party members allied to opposing political camps expressed diverse views on the outcome of the Central Committee (CC) meeting.
Those in the Lowassa camp said axing the former prime minister was wrong because he was the clear frontrunner, who was liked and supported by the majority of party members.
They said they would seek to reverse the CC’s decision during the NEC meeting and come up with a new list that included Lowassa’s name.
Many expect Lowassa to succeed the current party chairman and president, Jakaya Kikwete.
But those aligned with other camps said they had faith in the CC’s decision, adding that there was no way all the contestants could win.
CCM Shinyanga regional chairman, Khamis Mgeja, said he and other NEC members were determined to make sure Mr Lowassa entered the top five list “whether the CC likes it or not”.
“The party’s constitution has been violated and we are going to correct that. The CC can only make recommendations. It is us, NEC members, who make binding and final decisions,” he said.
One of the 33 aspirants who were axed by the CC, Ali Abeid Karume, said he accepted the decision because there were winners and losers in any contest.
“I believe anyone who will be nominated from among the top five list will represent the party well in the October elections. Differences among CC members are a normal thing and are key to the growth of democracy,” he said.