Interview with Horace Kolimba Secretary-General of Chama Cha Mapinduzi
Confident of victory, come 1995
Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM - Revolutionary Party of Tanzania) came into being in 1977 as a result of an amalgation between the ruling parties of mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. TANU (Tanganyika African National Union) and the Afro-Shirazi Party respectively. Since then CCM has ruled Tanzania as the sole legal political party. New political parties have now been authorised and in 1995 there will be, for the first time, a multiparty general election. How is CCM adapting to the new situation, having to vie for political power with others? The Courier met its current Secretary-Ceneral, Horace Kolimba.
• Chama Cha Mapinduzi describes it self as the party of the masses, but it is yet to test its popularity in a truly multiparty general election. After so many years in power, how confident are you Tanzanians have not had enough of your party?
- CCM is a mass party in the sense that it is not what they call a vanguard party, i.e. a party of the privileged few. First of all, let me make a minor correction. We have already had one byelection: this took place in the context of the multiparty system in Zanzibar at a constituency called Kwahani. There, the opposition got 211 votes, CCM mustered some 2 600 votes and about 300 ballots were spoilt. So we had a small taste of it. However, we are looking forward to the municipal elections due some time next year and to the general elections under the multiparty system in 1995.
• You refer to the by-election in Zanzibar as a small taste of the multiparty system, but only one party actually took part; the others boycotted it.
- That was an advantage to the opposition, because the other parties then came together and urged their supporters to vote for TPP, which stood against us.
• You would admit, though, that the CCM has an unfair advantage in being very long established and more financially secure and having the radio at its disposal ?
- Well, we do have historical advantages and historical disadvantages. As you yourself put it, we have been there for a long time. People are now showing interest also in some kind of new ideas and new people. But we have advantages in the sense that we can point to our achievements. We have an organisation which is extensive and which has a good membership. We have assets in terms of houses, vehicles and so on. But these things have not proved an obstacle to the growth of opposition parties elsewhere in Africa. These parties have had to face the same situation and they have fared fairly well. We have recent examples in Africa of opposition parties which have done well despite these handicaps. They can still do well if they organise themselves properly.
• Opposition parties here have alleged their members are being harassed by CCM. What exactly is happening ?
- Speaking as Secretary-General of CCM, I must say we take all allegations of harassment very seriously, because it is not part of our approach to multiparty politics. We genuinely want the growth of the multiparty democracy, we want it to succeed. We will not condone any conduct that is unfair to the opposition parties. Prominent members of our party, from the Chairman downwards, as well as the President of Tanzania have spoken out publicity against it. Opposition parties are allowed under our Constitution, and we are reconciled to that. Incidents of harassment, we know, will happen, especially at the beginning when people are learning to tolerate one another. Even we ourselves are not happy with some of the activities of the opposition, but we have to tolerate them, so long as those activities do not result in serious infringement of the law.
• How is CCM financed at the moment ?
- I wouldn't say we are a very comfortable party, financially: we do get by, however. One of our problems, of course, is that, under the multiparty system, we cannot get funds from the Government. In fact since July last year we have not received a cent from the Government. We have had to depend on ourselves. We have also had to separate functions, because people used to have party and Government functions at various levels at the same time. Since these functions have been separated we can no longer use Government facilities as we used to. Financially we now depend on our members, on people who wish us well, and on the commercial activities of our party organisations.
•The Constitutional Commission has recommended that CCM should transfer some of its assets to the Government. If as it done that?
- Unfortunately, the Commission made that recommendation without giving solid reasons or even giving a sound legal basis for it. CCM has been a legal political party for a long time under our Constitution. It has acquired properties in the ways other political parties acquire them. These properties belong to CCM. We do not see any reason why we should hand them over to the Government. They have said that some of the properties were acquired partly with contributions from people who are not members of the CCM. But this is normal. Even the new parties will also ask for donations and contributions from sym pathisers who are not members. We cannot on this basis alone say that properties they acquire in this manner are not theirs.
• The Constitutional Commission also recommended the repeal of about 40 laws it felt are inappropriate in a multiparty democracy. What does the CCM think about that recommendation?
- It is a sound recommendation. I think when you move from a one-party to a multiparty system it is only fair to look at all the laws to see if they are compatible with the new situation. But what we think should happen is that these 40 laws which have been identified by the Commission should be examined and analysed. Some of them should be discarded, some modified and others, we may find, are still useful. This process of analysing is taking place right now. The Government has said neither yes nor no: it cannot accept the proposal wholesale. This is something that has to be done carefully. Each law has to be examined to see if it is compatible with a multiparty system.
• The opposition parties have also asked for some of their members to be appointed to the electoral commission. Do you think it is a valid demand ?
- No. I think it is a very unwise demand, because we want to have an electoral commission which is impartial, competent and effective and this is what we have now. We have a commission consisting of people of high integrity in our society. There are judges (two judges of the Court of Appeal) - people of high integrity, great learning and great experience in judicial work. You have people who have distinguished careers in public service. You have a former attorney-general, who was an adviser to Sam Nujoma in Namibia and has been involved in United Nations work. He is by all accounts a distinguished citizen of this country. You have a former Inspector General of Police. In fact the commission is made up of retired people who have nothing to lose by being fair.
If we should have members of political parties in the commission, consider first of all the problem of 11 political parties, including CCM. Should each be represented, we would have at least 12 people. It will not work, because they will bicker and fight amongst themselves instead of conducting elections. The best formula, I think, is to associate the parties as much as possible with the electoral commission, as we are doing now - all of us meeting under the umbrella of the commission and exchanging views, so that the electoral commission can take them into account. This should be done constantly. I think this is the best formula.
• Talking about high integrity, you know corruption is rife in Africa. What is CCM's position on high-level corruption in Tanzania ?
- It is an evil which we recognise and against which we must fight. A lot has been done here to fight corruption in low and in high places, and this must continue. I don't know if you want me to outline some of the measures which have been taken. We have an anti-corruption squad which is operating independently, and its existence itself should show our concern about this evil in society.
We recognise, nevertheless, that the biggest source of corruption is shortages - shortages of essential goods which people need. And these shortages have now been more or less eliminated through our new trade policies. We now have a lot of goods in our shops. We no longer have to have permission or coupons from officials to buy a radio set, sugar, rice and so on, because these things are now freely available in the shops.
Another source of corruption is the lack of transparency in Government business. This has been largely rectified: first by allowing our members of Parliament to ask questions and speak freely without fear of harassment, and secondly by allowing a free press - a private press. A lot of things have now come out as a result. I think this is a big help in the fight against corruption. Do not forget also the example of a President here who actually dismissed the whole cabinet on the issue of corruption. He said he wanted to start anew because of allegations against the Government. The new cabinet he formed left out five ministers whose ministries had become notorious for corruption.
• What is CCM's economic philosophy today? What about the Arusha Declaration, Ujamaa, etc. ? Is socialism dead here ?
- (Hesitation) I wanted to say you are being provocative. CCM is a party of social concern. In other words, because of our historical origins and our historical approach, we are a party which looks at success through the welfare of the masses, not just economic growth, for that will be looking at things from a narrow prospective. We look at the development process in terms of the welfare of the broad masses of the people, in terms of their incomes, the social services which they enjoy and equality in justice for all. Because we have this approach of looking at development success in terms of the welfare of the broad masses rather than the welfare of just a few, it makes us believe that we are a socialist party.
But let me also add that we are under no illusion that this means that everything must be manned by the Government or indeed that the major part of economic development must be undertaken by the Government. No. We are realistic enough to learn from our own experience; we know the limits, after the Arusha Declaration, of relying too much on the public sector. This has limited our growth potential. We also learn from other countries, in Africa itself and in Europe: we have no qualms about our belief that our economic strategy must include the private sector, which must be given a big role to play in our economic growth. We must welcome investors, both internally and externally. We recognise the potential of exploiting the market-oriented model of economic development by allowing market forces to play an important part. So when we met last year in our CCM conference in Dodoma, we were able to articulate these policies and to move away from the notion that socialist development requires public-sector dominance. We have said very clearly that the people themselves - individuals, associations, companies etc. - should become the engine of development. Now the question is, is this socialism ? Well, as long as the fruit of development goes back to the people in terms of expansion of education for the masses, of health and social services (clean water, good roads so that their crops can be transported from the villages) and so on, as long as the fruit of development reaches the broad masses of the people eventually and inevitably by design, why not call it socialism even if these were achieved largely through the private sector? It is a policy and an ideology with a high social concern.
Interview by A.O.
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