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Analysts Say New Splinter Party Lacks Credibility

By Alpha Nuhu, Panafrican News Agency (Dakar), 28 March 2001

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania - Tanzanian political analysts said Wednesday the envisaged formation of a new breakaway political party of former disgruntled members of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) will not alter the latter's strength in Zanzibar politics.

"I met some of these guys who want to form a new party. They are discontented elements lacking the strength to weaken CUF's hold on power in the islands," a renowned political commentator told PANA in an interview Wednesday.

"These people (mainly from the mainland) are not at all a threat to CUF because the party has a large following in Pemba and Zanzibar islands. By nature, Zanzibaris do not behave like flags that follow the wind," said Prince Mahinja Bagenda, a political analyst and former ideologue of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party.

On Tuesday, Tanzania's Registrar of Political Parties, George Liundi, told journalists in Zanzibar that former CUF members were intending to form a new political group known as National Alliance Party or NAP.

Would-be office holders of the new party have already submitted to the registrar a draft constitution as required by the law empowering registration of political parties, Liundi said.

Although he declined to reveal names of the new party leaders, Liundi said the motive behind the launching of NAP was the group's dissatisfaction with current CUF leadership in handling Zanzibar's volatile political situation.

Among key conditions required for registering a political party include a national outlook in which a party must draw its representation from both the islands and mainland Tanzania. Recently, senior leaders of CCM and CUF signed a declaration to end political animosities between the two following the 27 January bloody riots in Pemba and Zanzibar which left 30 people dead.

The cessation-of-hostilities agreement has drawn bitter criticism from some sections of CUF supporters who accuse their leaders as wolves in a sheep's skin. In particular, CUF Secretary General Seif Sharrif Hamad has borne the brunt of the harsh criticism because of his key role in the discussions that led the peace accord.

Commenting on the CCM-CUF declaration, Bagenda said the move was an intelligent step that would help CUF strengthen its position on the islands. "People who oppose this declaration, like the ones who want to form a new party, do not have the interest of Tanzania at heart. Neither can their party have influence in Zanzibar politics," he said.

Another political commentator, who asked for anonymity, said Tanzania has a myriad of political parties and it was, therefore, a useless idea to think of launching other new parties.

"Let's strengthen the existing parties to command a large following in the country. We'll not build democracy by launching political parties everyday," he emphasised. However, the key question among political observers is whether CCM is behind the formation of the splinter parties in the country as one of way of weakening the opposition.

The answer, according to Bagenda, is "Yes."

"The CCM government," he alleged, "has infiltrated opposition parties through its security agents. These people are mainly there to weaken the opposition camp."

"As a political analyst, I cannot rule out the possibility of the CCM government destroying other parties through its security agents," he added.