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New CCM sheriff drops powerful story hint but Daily Mail fails to explain

The newly appointed secretary general of Tanzania’s ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi must have sent shivers down the spines of the party honchos last week. Speaking in Zanzibar last week, Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi said the party had resolved to strengthen monitoring of delivery of services by both the union and Zanzibar governments to ensure they were in line with the promises contained in the CCM Election Manifesto 2020-2025.

Addressing party supporters at the CCM Kisiwandui office in Zanzibar, the Daily Mail quoted him as saying: “The work being done by [Tanzanian] President Samia Suluhu Hassan and [Zanzibar] President Dr Hussein Mwinyi is huge and commendable, what is needed is party members to strengthen supervision of the two governments… I want to assure you that we will oversee the two governments under the CCM chairperson.”

Dr Nchimbi asked those appointed to high public offices to pay homage to leaders of yore and called for unity among CCM members. “I have visited the grave of our founder [sic] Abeid Amani Karume and every leader who is being handed the national office is also taken to grave of our founder for prayers. Those who set up this procedure did not mean us to end up praying only but rather remind us that this is a revolutionary party.”

According to the newspaper, the CCM secretary general – appointed by the party’s Executive Committee on January 15 to replace Daniel Chongolo – asked opposition politicians to cooperate with the government for enhanced delivery of services and invoked history for good measure: “Our government is a revolutionary one, obtained through the decision reached by Afro Shiraz[i] Party (ASP) by liberating our country. The liberation handed over powers to our people to lead their country and bring development.”

A quick look at the Daily Mail story revealed a reporter who was in a hurry to quote Dr Nchimbi without explaining even the most basic facts in the speech.

For example, his claim of the party’s resolve to closely monitor performance of the union and Zanzibar governments lacks proof of the necessary steps made – if at all – to make such a big announcement with far-reaching implications. You see, in Tanzania, CCM defines and shapes almost all aspects of public life: Who to be elected, who to be appointed to lucrative local and international jobs, who gets what resources through authoritative allocation, and who gets shunned and banished, among others.

Does the secretary general have the power to, unilaterally, make such a decision? Sorry, there was no explanation by Dr Nchimbi. It’s highly likely the reporter didn’t ask him. What does the CMM constitution say about who should decide over such a policy intention with far-reaching political, social, and economic implications? The story didn’t say.

The story talked of CCM resolving to heighten monitoring service delivery of the union and Zanzibar governments to align them with the promises in the CCM Election Manifesto 2020-2025. However, the reporter did not cite any of the promises in the said 14-page document which, among other things, gives a poignant commitment at Section 10 under the banner, ‘Our Promise’: “CCM will ensure that its governments implement all the promises made in this Manifesto for the benefit and prosperity of our Nation. The implementation of this Declaration will be guided by the following motto: We promised, We fulfilled; Together We Move Forward with a Bang!”

Also, the Daily Mail story did not explain how CCM members will be enlisted to monitor government performance: Collectively? Individually? It is instructive to note that the general party membership is usually detached from – if not clueless about –crucial matters of state. In sum, the story failed to harvest relevant voices from CCM senior leadership and party members to sample their views on what was clearly Dr Nchimbi’s personal proposal. Or could it be that, a year to another general election, the CCM honchos are worried about their performance, and the party is, therefore, conducting a latent opinion poll?

The reporter failed to provide background information to put some of Dr Nchimbi’s sentiments in context. For example, when the party official said that “[o]ur government is a revolutionary one, obtained through the decision reached by Afro Shiraz[i] Party (ASP) by liberating our country. The liberation handed over powers to our people to lead their country and bring development.” In January 1977 the TANU merged with the ruling party in Zanzibar, the ASP, to form CCM.

Lessons learnt? Reporters must conduct basic research and apply institutional memory (where it exists) to stories from top party officials, especially when they announce policy intentions with big ramifications for governance and general public life. The Nchimbi story was a good example of bad journalism.

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