Mkinga Mkinga 26 April 2011 The newly appointed Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) secretary general, Mr Wilson Mukama, has scoffed at critics of the ongoing campaign to weed out corrupt elements in the ruling party, saying the crusade was well researched. The CCM Central Committee (CC) and National Executive Committee (NEC) met in Dodoma a fortnight ago and resolved to change its secretariat and the CC as part of major reforms ahead of the 2015 General Election. Both the CC and NEC also resolved to offload some party heavyweights whose alleged link to corruption has been cited as a constant drawback in efforts to clean the party's tainted image and to win approval, mainly among the youth and well schooled segment of the population. However, critics say the CCM national chairman, Mr Jakaya Kikwete, and the party's new leadership could be in for some trying moments as the party prepares to implement some tough decisions. These include deregistering some senior party cadres implicated in the vice. The three-month ultimatum requres the cadres holding various posts in the party to resign voluntarily or face expulsion, the critics say. They note that it could backfire, deepen existing divisions and cause irreparable damage to the party's endeavour to cling onto power beyond 2015. But Mr Mukama argues in an exclusive interview with the Political Platform that a team of professionals he chaired had carried out a thorough scientific study on the best way of running the party before arriving at the decision. Like any other scientifically manned political party, CCM had to revisit its mission and vision in the wake of its 34th anniversary, Mr Mukama says. He hints that the team comprising two PhD holders and the CCM youth wing secretary general, Mr Martin Shigela, was tasked to identify an appropriate way to cleanse the party. "When the CCM national chairman summoned me during the party's 34th anniversary, I did not have a clue that he would have assigned me to lead the team, which consisted of highly professional members all irked by the way the party was manned," Mr Mukama says, noting: "If you embark on reforms of any institution, you have to tackle three things: awareness, analysis and action. These were major areas the team thoroughly worked on." Wind of Change Mr Mukama says a wind of change targeting political parties that had fought for independence was currently sweeping across the world. But he is optimistic that CCM would not succumb to it because the party, one of Africa's oldest, has never failed its members. Says he: "If a party still delivers, why should one query its existence? wonders Mr Mukama. He cites countries which are still under one of the world's longest leaderships as England under Queen Elizabeth. Mr Mukama says CCM had since the merger of the Tanganyika African National Union (Tanu) and Afro Shirazi Party (ASP) in 1977 never failed to meet its objectives, until it evaluated itself lately and resolved to shed its 'skin'. Opportunities CCM, Mr Mukama says, conducted a SWORT analysis to assess its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The ruling party realised that it was no longer close to the people and that a deliberate strategy to win the hearts of its grassroots members was required. "We also realised that there is no NEC of any political party represented at the district level. We have resolved to take the CCM NEC to the grassroots level," Mr Mukama says. The CCM policies were still attractive to the most Tanzanians. The party can still compete with opposition parties if the people-centred policies are effectively implemented, he says. Mr Mukama admits that CCM aspirants for various posts engaged in corrupt practices during last year's General Election, contrary to the ruling party's rules and regulations. He cites two civic leaders at Kitangiri and Kirumba in Mwanza City, who emerged second runners-up in the CCM primaries, but sailed through council posts during the last General Election after defecting to an opposition party. "We have observed the party system of nominating candidates and handling campaigns and found out that groups within the party cannot be ruled out because interests of a candidate in Mara Region will be different from those of a candidate in Mbeya Region," he observes. Why reforms? CCM still has valid reasons to remain in power since its foundation is still feasible today, according to Mr Mukama. He explains that the ruling party's prime goal was to ensure people monopolised the economy through stock markets. Findings of the study indicated that many CCM members were still happy with Tanzania's economic path which, for various reasons, was not adequately enforced. He quotes former Chinese leader Mao Tsetung as saying that retreat was one of the military tactics applied before embarking on a massive attack against an enemy. Mr Mukama says CCM had equally retreated to set conditions for taking the party to the next level. Critics who were confusing the tactic of retreating with CCM's collapse were wrong, he says. He stresses that expulsion of corrupt cadres would not distabilise the party because the party was above them and that their political prosperity outside it was at stake. "I recall the Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, saying while relinquishing power in 1985 that without a strong CCM, the country would be in tatters. "His words are still applicable today, hence the need for the ruling party to embrace the reforms," he says. He allays the fears of the expulsion of the cadres split ting the party. The cadres' influence would be impaired outside CCM even if they defected to opposition parties. The main problem with CCM, he notes, was some of its cadres thinking they were better than others and the party that groomed them. "We have to serve interests of CCM instead of those of individuals if we are to deny opposition parties room to take the ruling party to task," he adds.