At the end of January 2010 there were rumors of a new political party that was about to be registered to challenge the ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) in October's general elections. The rumors, stoked by frequent news reports, spoke of planned mass defections by current members of parliament of CCM
to the new party.
Some panic ran through the leadership of CCM although the public statements from CCM attempted to project some boldness with some leaders warning that any CCM member who dared cross over to any new political party was doomed to fade into political oblivion. It was CCM that was popular, the warning went, not individual members of CCM.
Sometime in early March, I received a call from Renatus Muabhi who told me he was one of the leaders of the new party, called Chama cha Jamii (CCJ), and requested to pay a visit to Butiama with his chairman and, specifically, to pay their respects at the mausoluem of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere. I told him they were welcome to visit Butiama.
They even mentioned a few names of some of Tanzania's political heavyweights and it all sounded convincing.
In the end only one CCM member of parliament quit from CCM to join CCJ. CCJ itself ran into obstacles and failed to obtain registration from the registrar of political parties. The chairman, Richard Kiyabo, abandoned ship and first joined another opposition political party, then later quit that party and emerged as the presidential candidate for another political party.
Finally the nail on CCJ's coffin was hammered when Kiyabo appeared in a news report with CCM's Secretary General, Yusuf Makamba, and declared he had rejoined CCM!
When CCJ faded into political oblivion, I desperately tried to call CCJ's Secretary General, Renatus Muabhi, for an explanation of what had befallen CCJ. Neither his mobile phone, nor a landline number I was given could be reached.
I imagined I heard a collective sigh of relief from CCM headquarters. And maybe a few diehards said, "we told you!"
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