As President Magufuli starts his four-day official tour in Pwani, Lindi and Mtwara after appointing Former First Lady, Salma Kikwete, to be a Member of Parliament (MP) - and as the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) is about to deliberate on what it refers to as "mageuzi makubwa yanayofanyika ndani ya chama chetu" i.e. 'the ongoing great transformation in our party' - we may all wish to recall the 'prophetic' comments below from a political scientist and investigative journalist in Tanzania, respectively:
It is worth noting that Lowassa’s defection and Magufuli’s succession have had profound after-effects on both CCM and the opposition. Magufuli is an anomaly in that, as a de facto nominee resulting from two factions cancelling each other out, he came to power without his own power base. Meanwhile, those aligned with Lowassa—politicians, party members and financiers—are now labelled traitors and are lying low. Magufuli now has the upper hand and has seized the opportunity to pursue—whether out of genuine conviction or as a political strategy given his lack of a personal network—a relentless anti-corruption campaign. This has seemingly helped neutralize potential opponents within CCM. Indeed, the party had come to operate on the principle that rival factions were all implicated in corruption of one form or another such that they were incapable of holding each other to account (Gray, 2015). Magufuli, by contrast, is seemingly unafraid to burn bridges by firing or prosecuting allegedly corrupt officials and politicians, actions that have seemingly helped cow otherwise vocal opponents into silence. In this way, Magufuli claims he is en route to cleanse a corrupted CCM in order to restore it to the Nyerere ideal.
The analysis in this paper would suggest, however, that this is an unrealistic objective. Tanzania’s economy is such that CCM can no longer hope to recentralize power, although there is renewed talk of started party-owned businesses in order to address its perennial lack of adequate resources. Even so, at least in public Magufuli continues to vilify and seemingly alienate a class of commercial elites who previously supported the party, either directly or through its individual candidates. Meanwhile, the party organization remains weak and in need of substantial investment of energy and resources—a point emphasised by the outgoing party chairman and former President Jakaya Kikwete when handing over the chairmanship to Magufuli. These two factors—the lack of a credible plan for generating party income and the party’s organizational slack—both suggest CCM might be in trouble. Perhaps it is no wonder—authoritarian tendencies aside—that Magufuli is actively repressing the opposition, whether it be by banning political meetings or by prosecuting individual opposition politicians. Even with a severely weakened opposition, it only seems like a matter of time, though, before Magufuli will have to learn either to tolerate some degree of mtandao (network) politics—perhaps after ensuring he has consolidated his own support base—or else face opposition from opponents from within his party amidst severe organizational decay. The third possible alternative is a continued and exacerbated authoritarian crackdown, which it is not clear he has the ability to pull off. For now, Magufuli is still enjoying a honeymoon period with many rank and file voters who initially responded positively to a series of populist (and some more substantive) gestures. But if that begins to wane, as it is already showing signs of doing, he will face a reckoning.
Another challenge Magufuli may face as chair is financial. Although CCM is historically a party of peasants and workers, businesspeople have long been influential within the party and been its key donors. Outgoing chair Kikwete revealed at the recent party convention that many members are not paying their annual fees, forcing the party to depend even more on business people for survival. But given that many of CCM's wealthy donors have been implicated in Magufuli's campaign against tax avoidance, they may be reluctant to give money to the party under its new leadership.
If Magufuli takes the same stern and reforming approach in governing CCM as he has in his presidency, he risks alienating the majority of party members who want to maintain the status quo. And adding this internal party struggle to the wars this one-man army is fighting on various other political fronts could see Magufuli's overall ability to wield control stretched to its limit.
His only choice therefore may be to build alliances with people in the party and in the business community who will stand with him during difficult times as he shapes his presidency. To do this, he might have to surrender some of his authority to powerful quarters within CCM and, crucially, start walking to his car a little more slowly.