FORMER Prime Minister and Chadema Central Committee member Edward Lowassa yesterday ditched the opposition party and re-joined the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).

Mr Lowassa was received by CCM top brass at the party’s sub-head office at Lumumba in Dar es Salaam, including the ruling party chairman, President John Magufuli, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa and CCM Secretary-General, Dr Bashiru Ally.

Mr Lowassa, who served as Prime Minister in the fourth phase government, defected to Chadema in the run-up to the 2015 general election after he failed to secure nomination by CCM to be the presidential flag bearer in Dodoma.

He thereafter joined Chadema and was nominated presidential candidate for the 2015 general election through opposition’s coalition (Ukawa).

Speaking at Lumumba CCM offices, Mr Lowassa said: “I am back home.”

He said he had no reason to continue being in opposition following ongoing historical developments taking place in the country.

Mr Lowassa said he was ready to cooperate with CCM to build the nation under the leadership of President John Magufuli.

For his part, President Magufuli commended Mr Lowassa for his decision to re-join the ruling party.

He said CCM leaders had listened to his views and had been to the ruling party since Tanganyika African National Union Youth League and he ditched CCM due to reasons, which were out of his control.

“Mr Lowassa is a gentleman. He was a CCM member and defected to the opposition, but he requested to return home. I commend him even in holy scriptures we are taught to forgive …welcome back so that we can build our country which has no political conflicts and development has no political ideology,” President Magufuli said.

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) declared John Magufuli the winner of Tanzania’s general election after he scooped 58.46 per cent of all the votes, while Chadema candidate Edward Lowassa came second after getting 39 per cent of all the votes.

Commenting on Mr Lowassa’s return to CCM, former CCM Secretary-General Yusuf Makamba, former CCM Vice National Chairman Pius Msekwa and Dr Benson Bana said the political heavyweight had used his constitutional and democratic right to make a decision. “I am rejoicing Mr Lowassa’s decision to return home after he defected to Chadema following his failure to secure CCM nomination to be the presidential flag bearer in Dodoma in 2015,” Mr Msekwa said.

Mr Msekwa said after Mr Lowassa name was removed from among the presidential aspirants, he (Lowassa) informed him that he was not happy with the party’s decision and he was going to join another political party to seek the opportunity.

Mr Msekwa explained that he had been pleased with the return of Mr Lowassa to CCM because he ditched the party in search of the presidential position, but his heart was not in favour of his decision. “That is why he has decided to return to CCM after he was defeated by President John Magufuli.”

When asked whether his return would have any positive or negative impact on the ruling party he said CCM had more than seven million members, thus his defection had added only one member.

However, Dr Bana noted that Mr Lowassa’s return to CCM would have an impact on Chadema because it was rather weakening the opposition party, but strengthening the ruling party.

“Even if Mr Lowassa would choose to remain Chadema he had nothing to oppose because the ruling party has been doing its job well, including solving people’s problems and implementing various projects such as the implementation of Rufiji Hydroelectric Power Project, reviving Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) and boosting revenue collection.

Mr Makamba expressed his delight with the return of Mr Lowassa because he was his former boss when he was Prime Minister while he was Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner.

When reached for comment, Chadema Secretary-General, Dr Vicent Mashinji, said he was surprised by Mr Lowassa’s decision to leave Chadema. However, Dr Mashinji said the former Chadema Central Committee member had no impact on the current politics.

“I have already had information about his return to CCM and from my own perspective he has no impact on today’s politics,” he noted. Dr Mashinji said, however, Mr Lowassa used his constitutional right of joining any political party he wished, insisting that Chadema would continue existing despite the defection of some members, including leaders.

The return of Mr Lowassa to CCM is the continuation of Chadema heavyweight’s defection, including Members of Parliament and councillors.

They include Mr Mwita Waitara (Ukonga), Mr Godwin Ole Mollel (Siha), Mr Julius Kalanga (Monduli), Mr Marwa Chacha (Serengeti), Mr James Millya (Simanjiro) and Ms Pauline Gekul (Babati).