Africa boasts many a self-proclaimed revolutionary parties. From the African National Congress (ANC) to the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). Some old ones are still in power. But it is indeed hanging on a balance.
In my country, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), which directly translates to ‘The Revolutionary Party’, is still at the helm. However, it is facing its severest test yet, both from internal ‘power struggle’ and ‘external pressure’ from opposition parties.
However, some, if not many, of us are still worried if these other parties, particularly Chama Cha Demokrasia Na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) – ‘The Party of Democracy & Development’, is ready to govern the country and maintain ‘stability and tranquility’.
Hence it has been hard to make sense of the call of a self-proclaimed ‘mwanachama mfu’, that is, ‘dormant member’ of CCM to vote it out of power. This member also happens to be a diehard ‘revolutionary leftist’. Yet he wants revolutionary parties out!
This is Dr. Azaveli Lwaitama who has devoted a number of his column on ‘Critical Thinking’ in The Citizen newspaper to propagate his provocative call. I recently had an opportunity to travel with him. It was only then that I started to really get his point.
His argument seemed straightforward. Let me paraphrase. Revolutionary parties do not know how to run a capitalist system. They are stuck in a socialist mentality while dillydallying with free market rhetoric. Why don’t they just let (neo)liberal parties in?
In other words, it could have even been better if they were ‘talking left and walking right’. But they can’t walk the talk. After all talking against ‘counter-revolutionary’ is not one and the same thing as walking the austerity path of ‘market fundamentalism’.
But what is Mwalimu Lwaitama, as his self-proclaimed students calls him, trying to achieve in Tanzania? Is it to fuel animosity against a ruling party in an increasingly volatile political environment? Or is it to usher a ‘bourgeois-democratic revolution’?
Lwaitama’s rationale for not co-signing an open letter on Libya by concerned Africans gives a glimpse of why he thinks there is a need to give a break to old African parties that fought so hard to earn our freedom from colonialists and dictators.
Said he: “Col. Gaddafi reminds me too much of similar pseudo-leftwing leaders such as those who currently rule over countries like Tanzania and North Korea for me to be fooled by slogans from him”. This seemed farfetched but his clarification was touché.
‘I am ready’, the Pan-Africanist Marxist retorted, ‘for the removal of parties that brought flag independence such as TANU/CCM, FRELIMO, MPLA, ANC and ZANU-PF by parties that are liberal like CHADEMA & MDC as a transition phase’.
This transition period, he predicted, will be painful like the one from UNIP to MMD under Frederick Chiluba in Zambia. That kind of transition, Lwaitama also asserted, is the one that Ghana bitterly passed through since the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah.
To him, the democratic dispensation that led to the election of John Atta Mills as the President of Ghana is a sweet outcome of the bitter transition. As such he now need to see a more or less transition in Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe among others.
When these old guards are removed, so he says, the people will reduce the fog in their eyes that hinders them from progressing. We may not understand let alone agree with Mwalimu Lwaitama. But when I recite my poem below I find it difficult to disagree.
© Chambi Chachage