Tanzania’s ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party said it would implement anti-corruption measures nationwide and publicly acknowledged for the first time that a succession dispute had split the long-dominant party.
President Jakaya Kikwete, who must step down in 2015 at the end of his second and final term in office, has pledged to root out endemic graft in the east African nation and within his CCM, which has been in power since Tanzania’s independence in 1961.
“The question of corruption has become a serious burden to CCM despite major efforts … to tackle that problem in the country,” CCM’s secretary-general, Wilson Mukama, said in a newspaper advertisement Saturday, Reuters reports.
“The National Executive Committee has decided that CCM leaders facing corruption accusations must weigh these allegations and take necessary actions in the interests of the party. Failure to do so, the party shall make them accountable without delay.”
Mukama did not say what action the party planned to take.
East Africa’s second-biggest economy has seen its ranking in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, a measure of perceived public sector corruption, plunge 32 places over the past two years. It now ranks at 116 out of 178 countries in the organization’s 2010 survey.
Businesses have long complained graft is one of the main reasons for the high cost of doing business in Tanzania.
A CCM presidential candidate had typically been guaranteed automatic victory before the emergence of the opposition Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Party for Democracy and Development) in the 2010 polls as CCM’s main threat.
Mukama’s statement, which comes after the ruling party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week, said the antigraft move targeted all CCM leaders from national to grassroot levels.
Senior CCM lawmaker, Rostam Aziz, who was once in President Jakaya Kikwete’s inner circle, is the only politician so far to have heeded the party’s call for leaders accused of graft to resign, following his decision to quit in July.
Local media reported Saturday former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa and former cabinet minister Andrew Chenge were among high-profile CCM leaders targeted in the purge.
Both Lowassa and Chenge resigned from the government in 2008 over separate corruption accusations, but they still retain senior positions in the fractious party.
CCM admitted for the first time some political heavyweights, including cabinet ministers, both past and present, were seeking the country’s top job and had split the party into rival camps.
“CCM condemns all its members, who have put aside the party’s programs and activities, for the sake of the 2015 presidential race. This is cancerous, only time and space will determine the candidate,” the state-run Daily News newspaper quoted Mukama as saying Friday.
Benson Bana, head of the University of Dar es Salaam’s political research think-tank, REDET, said CCM had become more disunited since the start of the clean-up.
“The metaphor of skin shedding, which basically calls for all CCM leaders with corruption allegations to voluntarily relinquish their leadership positions, is unrealistic and not implementable. It leaves loopholes since no one will step forward and offer to resign,” he said.
“This whole exercise has done more damage to the party than before … it has deeply divided the party.”