Rais Jakaya Kikwete
The then CCM presidential flag seeker, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, in 2005 nominations acceptance speech made a rare revelation of how the “Kikwete project” was hatched and nurtured. Kikwete was nostalgic but economical with the truth when he tapped only two CCM national stalwarts namely Rashid Mfaume Kawawa (now deceased) and former president Ali Hassan Mwinyi as the founders of the “Kikwete project.”
According to Kikwete, Kawawa had parlayed his Secretary General portfolio not only to employ him in CCM district and later Regional secretary dockets but Kawawa had also exposed him to top CCM power environment. Through those interactions, the “Kikwete project” was launched and sustained over the years by the election of president Mwinyi in 1985 who singlehandedly breathed life into Kikwete’s political life when he nominated him as a national MP and a deputy Minister in 1987.
During Kikwete’s early political ascension, Kawawa meticulously arranged to parade him to a CCM vote rich of Zanzibar where he was appointed as Regional Secretary popularizing him as a future leader in waiting. Ironically, though Kikwete was a political scion being pampered with plenty of goodies CCM could offer, he was smart enough to twist facts and painted himself as a selfless leader who sacrificed high paying jobs after he had finished his University studies to serve CCM!
But history will note that in CCM, Kikwete was far from being an average employee with godfathers of Kawawa and later Mwinyi caliber at his disposal rendering his cries for mercy being only a political gimmick to earn votes of sympathy.
Positions of CCM Regional Secretary General provides the holder with non-elective post at the most senior CCM organs of NEC where policy issues were being hatched and decided but also far more important the opportunity to rub shoulders with “who is who” in the CCM pecking order. Regional Secretaries were known to either build or shatter blossoming careers of CCM new top job aspirants.
It was the Regional Secretaries who were entrusted to count votes up to 2005 CCM presidential and other party senior positions whereby if a candidate was not preferred choice of the incumbents then his votes were slimmed intentionally to show that he was not popular!
This is why when it comes to CCM top jobs before 2005, few can argue with certitude who were the real winners when even Frederick Sumaye was rumoured to have been rejected by CCM National Convention of 1997 only to have his stakes being revived by no one but the then president Mkapa who ordered Sumaye’s name to top the 20 CCM mainland NEC positions in order to lend credence that his leadership was still popular! Nobody of the aspirants was allowed to have the opportunity to verify the vote-counting process in those days akin of one party rule.
Exposure of Zanzibar politics via a Regional Secretary appointment there ensured Kikwete had an access to almost a third of CCM voting bloc in National Convention politics. Little can be further from the truth that concerted efforts of both Kawawa and Mwinyi ensured Kikwete floored not only the then first Vice President and Premier David Msuya but also devoured the candidacy of Mkapa in 1995 CCM National Convention in the presidential nominations.
Had Nyerere not interfered on grounds that the nation was not ready for a playboy in Kikwete he would have gone to face Mrema and we all know what TISS and the electoral body of NEC would have done to upstage the true wishes of voters as they have always been doing since 1995. This helped to cement Kikwete’s political career in 1997 when he featured among the top votes sweepers in mainland 20 NEC positions, and later on paved the way for ending the political career of Frederick Sumaye in 2005 CCM presidential nominations.
One of the lynchpin of Kikwete presidential aspirations in 2005 was no other than Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru; an atheist, who is deceptively nondescript but yet the most enduring powerbroker since the inception of multipartyism in 1995. Where Nyerere determined two presidential transitions of 1985 and 1995 but even there Kingunge’s footprints could easily be traced and documented.
After the demise of Nyerere in 1999, Kingunge was the most respected CCM mandarin whose idea of forming an unofficial vanguard sect within CCM behind the watchful eyes of Mkapa redefined how presidential campaigns inside CCM were conducted.
The Kingunge wing of CCM party regarded Mkapa with suspicions particularly when he indicated that CCM ought to sponsor one of his Ministers who were conversant with the effects of globalization and not internal party politics.
Those globalization knowhow qualifications were in synch with Professor Mark Mwandosya and Dr. Abdallah Kigoda but Kikwete’s political career seemed to have hit a dead wall. But through the promises of phantom posts and cashing in on the covetousness of its ardent followers, Kingunge established “Wanamtandao” sect that turned out to be Kikwete’s successful launchpad to power.
But when Kikwete came to power and unveiled his long list of inner circle that left many of his erstwhile supporters in “wanamtandao” orphans and in search for a new unifying leader, it is only a matter of time before a voracious suitor in Chadema swoops and elopes with them denting CCM’s 2015 chance of staying in power!