TOGETHER AS NOT ONE: President Kikwete (centre) with TISS chief Rashid Othman (left) have maintained a public display of closeness, but behind the scenes, a bitter row is threatening Tanzania due to Othman’s refusal to back the FDLR agenda
At an urgent summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in Kampala in late September 2012, Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete spoke passionately of how Tanzania was eager to end the conflict in DR Congo. President Kikwete informed other leaders that Tanzania was ready to use force. Months later, Tanzanian troops were deployed, but as the reports, the deployment is a personal project of President Kikwete after ignoring advice of the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service (TISS).
Since the ICGLR authorized the deployment of 3,069 troops, including 1,283 Tanzanian Special Forces, the events moved so fast. In April, Tanzanian Brigadier General James Aloizi Mwakibolwa was named the commander of the so called Neutral Intervention Force (NIF). On 10th May 2013, the first batch of 100 elite forces arrived in Goma.
Even as the world was celebrating the developments on the ground in eastern DRC, back in Tanzania however, tempers were at exploding point between President Kikwete on one side and the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service (TISS).President Kikwete unilaterally appointed a man we have only managed to identify as Mr Zongo to be the deputy director general of TISS.
The shocking appointment was retaliation against the director general of TISS, Mr. Rashid Othman, who had rigidly refused to endorse the deployment of Tanzanian troops in DR Congo. According to sources close to Mr. Othman, he accused President Kikwete of “mishandling the geopolitical situation” in the region at the expense of Tanzania.
The man who the Tanzania state was paying to plan for its security strategy, feared that President Kikwete’s “unilateral decision” would come back to haunt Tanzania. As the supreme leader, President Kikwete was not impressed, and moved to curb the powers of the intelligence chief.
In comes President Kabila’s sister
The refusal of TISS chief Mr. Rashid Othman did not come from the blue. Information obtained by our investigations team shows that the deployment of Tanzania troops had been a personal pledge by President Kikwete to DRC President Joseph Kabila when he was in Tanzania for the SADC Troika summit on 5th September 2012.
But how did the Kikwete pledge come? The two presidents have cultivated a very close relationship to the point that the two families are business partners. Tanzania’s First Lady fondly known as Mama Salma Kikwete and President Kabila’s twin sister Jaynet Kabila have a mineral export business operating from Dar es Salaam’s MIKOCHENI suburb.
News investigatiors have led us to two very luxurious “shops” in Dar es Salaam. One of them is named RENZO located within the upper class MIKOCHENI Shopping Mall opposite SAVERIOS Pizza. The other “shop” is VIRAGO, positioned opposite Baraka Plaza. Both these shops are located in the MIKOCHENI suburb of Dar es Salaam where Tanzania’s rich and good brash shoulders.
According to sources on the ground, these two Kikwete-Kabila shops sell the most luxurious clothing and jewelry in Tanzania. However, despite the size and expensive line of business, the “shops” are not registered with the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA). The two names are not found anywhere in the tax receipts of the TRA, which according to well-informed sources, means they do not pay taxes. However, nobody including the TRA commissioner general Harry Kitilya can say anything for fear of retribution.
According to people operating businesses within the MIKOCHENI suburb, these particular shops are a no-go zone for ordinary Tanzanians. Apart from seeing expensive cars packed within the vicinity, the shops are also common with foreigners who do not leave with any materials, and locals suspect strange businesses are taking place inside those buildings.
Could it be that the intelligence Chief Mr. Rashid Othman knew from day one that his boss’ insistence on sending troops to DRC was not back by any love for Tanzanian interests? Could it be that Mr Zongo was brought to TISS to keep an eye on Othman such that he does not search too far? Only time will tell.
Jaynet Kabila is the twin sister of President Kabila, and a very power force in the DRC parliament. Politicians in DRC see her as the powers-be that choose Congo’s fate
Then the FDLR militia emerges
First forward, on the morning of 26 May 2013, at a special and tense closed-door Africa Union heads of state summit on DRC, President Kikwete was seated across from Rwandan counter President Paul Kagame. The Tanzanian leader tells Kagame that he needs to sit at the same table with the democratic forces for the liberation of Rwanda rebels to talk peace. President Kikwete was reading from a prepared speech.
As reports, Tanzania-Rwanda relations have since gone down the drain. Privately, President Kikwete’s closest advisors have confessed to friends that the FDLR issue as advanced by their boss to other African leaders was never discussed. The original speech prepared by the Presidency did not include a reference to peace talks for ending the FDLR problem in eastern Congo.
Publicly, many Tanzanian senior officials have kept quiet leaving only two people to deal with the expected consequences of Tanzania siding with the perpetrators of the genocide. President Kikwete and his foreign affairs minister Bernard Membe have been left to fight alone, reason why they are the only people who speak passionately about the Rwanda-Tanzania showdown. However, it is not accidental.
Dorcas Membe, the wife of the foreign affairs minister is a childhood friend of First Lady Mama Salma Kikwete. According to official data, Mama Salma was comes from Lindi, in Southern Tanzania. The First Lady and Dorcas Membe hail from the same village.
On 19th August last year, a Rwandan news website reported exclusively Shabyna Stillman, a senior diplomat at the US embassy in Dar es Salaam had sent a secret cable to Washington on Thursday May 5th, 2005 explaining how Mama Salma Kikwete was from the family of ex-Rwanda president Juvenal Habyarimana.
Could it be that President Kikwete’s sudden move in favour of the FDLR was influenced by the personal friendship with DRC counterpart Joseph Kabila or his wife’s ancestry to Rwanda? Only time will tell.