Letter from Pemba: On Sheha Mpemba from Pemba

On August 2, 2021, CCM publicity secretariat announced that the MP elect of Konde Constituency, Sheha Mpemba, had resigned. According to the press release, the incumbent “resigned due to family pressure”. Mpemba’s resignation surprised CCM and opposition members alike because he abandoned the seat he had won through blood and sweat. 

But defending his resignation through an online TV station, Mpemba differed with his party defense and attributed his leaving the job to the threats that “Wapinzani” have been throwing unto him and his family since he won the seat on July 18, 2021. “Wapinzani have threatened me and my family to the point of making my family life completely uneasy.” He claimed.

His two party cadres from Kichaka Pumu Msuka expressed displeasure over Mpemba’s decision to resign, calling this as an act of betrayal. One of these concerned members said in conclusion that, “our efforts to make Mpemba member of the Parliament have ended up in vain.”   

Sheha Mpemba with his nomination certificate from the National Electoral Commission.

Notwithstanding the costs of re-organizing another by-election, Mpemba said further that he resigned to avoid disappointing his mother, whom he loves most. What a son!

But people seem not to buy this. Many people here in Pemba say that Sheha Mpemba was forced by his own party to resign after it became clear that the junior party in the Government of National Unity of Zanzibar, the ACT Wazalendo, had already decided to quit the government unless the tangible solution is found for the by-election which, they believe, was a frauded in favor of the CCM candidate.

I do not want to speak for or against Mpemba’s defense; for it is only him, who can better tell the public what has really happened. However, I want to praise Mpemba for being the first MP from Pemba who has accepted the reality that politicians need both the powers and legitimacy to effectively engage the people they lead.

Disappointingly, after Mpemba’s resignation, the National Election Commission, whose officials blessed the shaming of the by-election in Konde, has come out and sadly announced that Konde constituency seat is vacant. 

In the ideal and more accountable scenario, the National Election Commission needed to task those responsible for Konde by-election mayhem parallel to announcing that the seat that Mpemba on July 18, 2021, joyfully accepted is vacant. NEC needed also to punish the returning officer, whom people accused of violating electoral rules. 

CCM’s press statement on the resignation of Sheha Mpemba

Personally, I am so saddened by the circumstances, which have been the result of Mpemba winning and abandoning the Konde constituency seat. Equally saddening is his party’s failure to not tell Mpemba of the complexity of the politics, which he chose to engage himself into.

What I do not accept are the grounds he provides for backing his resignation. They seem too childish and completely unacceptable. Because of Mpemba representing the untouchable, no doubt those whom, he claims had thrown life threatening messages unto him would have faced the consequences. In fact, the authorities that silenced the October 2020 rebellion would have dealt with them harshly. 

Frankly, Mpemba resignation suggests the need for a paradigm shift so that we can have a better, inclusive, and more accountable way of electing our leaders. 

Mpemba using family pressure and threats by Wapinzani as an excuse to resign to the neglect of the loss of money and embarrassments to the National Election Commission and the party he represented demonstrates the demand for change in the ways the country gets its politicians. 

Mpemba’s resignation also gives the picture of the types of leaders the country has across the board. 

In the better of worse scenarios Mpemba’s resignation is an upsetting and bizarre development. Indeed, this resignation due to social pressure reminds me of the argument by Aristotle that “fear sets us thinking what can be done, which of course nobody does when things are hopeless. Consequently, when it is advisable that the audience should be frightened, the orator must make them feel they are in danger.”

Angali Marango 

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