Some senior members of the ruling party Chama cha Mapinduzi, who were contesting for seats during the party's nomination poll held in Dar es Salaam in 2010. Tanzania opposition political parties are locked in internal power struggles whose only beneficiary so far appears to be the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi. Photo/LEONARD MAGOMBA By JOSEPH MWAMUNYANGE Posted Sunday, January 8 2012 at 14:03 Tanzania opposition political parties are locked in internal power struggles whose only beneficiary so far appears to be the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi. The latest victim is Hamad Rashid Mohamed, a prominent figure in the Civic United Front who was at one time tipped as a potential presidential candidate in Zanzibar. Mr Mohamed, who is also CUF's Member of Parliament for Wawi on the Isles, was expelled from the party together with three other members - Doyo Hassan Doyo, Juma Said Sanani and Shoka Khamis Shoka. The party accused the four of going against party procedures in dealing with internal matters. "This is damaging to the opposition; they are already weak, considering the small number of parliamentarians they have in the House. Nor can they put a credible spin on these expulsions due to the fact that they don't control the propaganda machinery," said a senior lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, Dr Azavelli Lwaitama. According to Dr Lwaitama, CUF should have thought twice before resorting to such far-reaching measures. He gave the example of Chadema, which also recently took action against some of its members. "Before Chadema expelled the officials, they were given ample time to present their side of the story," said Dr Lwaitama. The expulsion of the four top officials from CUF comes barely three weeks after the opposition party NCCR-Mageuzi expelled its youthful legislator for Kigoma North, Thomas Kafulila. His expulsion has meant NCCR-Mageuzi has lost considerable support among constituents from Kigoma North, who claim their Member of Parliament has been treated unfairly by the party. Expulsion from their political party means an MP automatically loses his or her seat; analysts say the ruling CCM is now likely to win the resulting by-election. "They have played into the hands of CCM, which will use the expulsions to demonstrate that the opposition is disorganised," said Dr Lwaitama. Miraji, a political commentator based in Dar es Salaam, told The EastAfrican that the opposition parties were intolerant of divergent views. "Having said that, I would like to note that the biggest mistake people like Kafulila or Hamad Rashid made was to engage cheerleaders instead of using the right channels as stipulated by their parties," said Mr Miraji. Mr Miraji said while the ruling party isn't free from similar problems, "It is able to withstand such challenges, which reveals the maturity of CCM when compared with the others." "The other problem with the opposition is that there are individuals who are seen to be untouchable; any party members who challenge the status quo are swiftly dealt with," said Mr Miraji. The ruling party is currently involved in a process aimed at reinventing itself, one that has already claimed victims, including former Igunga MP Rostam Aziz, who resigned all his party posts after relinquishing his parliamentary seat. The Registrar of Political Parties, John Tendwa, suggested that one way to safeguard the integrity of political parties would be to have an independent arbitrator in case there was a dispute within a particular party. Dr Benson Bana of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Dar es Salaam said the expulsion of legislators by political parties should looked at critically so as to respect the wishes of the people. "An MP is elected not only by his party and its supporters, but also by people who don't belong to any political party; hence removing them just because they differed with the party's leadership is wrong. This issue needs to be included in the debate leading to a new constitution," said Dr Bana. "By-elections are a very expensive exercise for poor countries like ours. Hence the need to put in place a system that allows for the second best performing candidate taking over should the incumbent die or lose the seat through some other means. Or we could allow the party that won the seat to select the losing finalist in the primaries to take over," said Dr Bana. Dr Bana added that it was time the country seriously started thinking about having independent candidates and enhancing intra-party democracy by having this enshrined in the new Constitution. "It is no secret that most of these political parties fail to hold meaningful internal elections, which hinders the growth of democracy."