Political parties should shed tribal tag

Supporters of Tanzania's ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) attend the official launch of the party's campaign for the October general election at the Jamhuri stadium in Dodoma, Tanzania, on August 29, 2020.

Photo credit: File | AFP

I have had an opportunity to follow countless national delegates conferences of many political parties throughout the world. Most of these conferences flow freely, the agenda captures the mood of the people and the nation.

A classic example of a member and agenda driven-party is Chama Cha Mapinduzi in Tanzania. This party has functional structures in place, that is, from the grassroots to the head office. This party is a mass movement where members have faith in the manifesto of the party.

Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema), probably the second most popular party in Tanzania, has taken vital lessons from CCM and has been growing in leaps and bounds. The agenda of tribes and religion does not feature anywhere in the Tanzanian politics.

Our good neighbours are solidly united by Kiswahili and soccer. This begs the question, who owns soccer and politics in Tanzania? The answer is, Tanzanians. In Kenya, where we rally behind rich tribal kingpins, our story is different. Our political parties are simply ‘servers’ of ethnic census.

These political parties are owned by individuals who, at the slightest threat of being politically irrelevant, will whip the members (tribesmen) to come to the defence of the ‘community.’ At transition, these tribal lords will hand over these outfits to their kin, who may not necessarily be political or gifted on leadership.

Doest it puzzle you that we have not seen the descendants of Julius Nyerere, Mwinyi, Jakaya Kikwete and Maghufuli take to the political stage? Maturity of democracy and politics is actualised when people realise that there is no single blood stream which is better than all the others.

This week, former President Uhuru Kenyatta came out promising his opponents a fight for their lives. His faction of Jubilee party held its NDC.

The problem with this is that the faction that was left out will respond by hosting its own NDC. Because these outfits are not owned by members, chances are that hired delegates will attend the NDC.

Isn’t it time Parliament acknowledged that we have enough ethnic registers and that we need no more? Isn’t it time that the existing political party leaders had a fixed term of office? Fixed terms could be that wonder pill that we need to get rid of ethnicity in our political arena.

In the meantime, we would like to see former President Kenyatta free to move to any part of this country and stop along the way to greet people without raising suspicion. Partisan politics are a stair below him. Let him spare some energy and time to attend football matches or even sponsoring a tournament or an athletics race. This would endear him more to the people than trying to make a political comeback.

Joe Mungai, Washington State, USA