This week on Monday, Tanzania president Jakaya Kikwete told a Chatham House audience in London that he was going to retire in October when his two terms end. On the face of it, the comments were picked with excitement. Kikwete was doing what the west has branded Africa for; lengthy stay in power.
Kikwete went on to say: “You develop and brutalize your people at the same time? That’s not acceptable. I don’t subscribe to that idea.” The statement left many guessing who else Kikwete was referring to in particular, if any. I will not waste my space going into the other quotes from Kikwete at that event; he knew the audience and spoke what they enjoyed to listen.
One particular statement stood out though; “I thank God that we (Tanzania) are that way and pray that we remain that way… Africa is full of surprises.” Kikwete was placing Tanzania, and for that matter himself in a different league. Kikwete was telling his audience that Tanzania is full of angels, and the devils are elsewhere. Well, here is what he did not tell you.
Within President Kikwete’s first 2 years in office, more than $131m disappeared from the Central Bank. Like the saying often goes; the rest is history. Two years later, around in 2008, another $179 million energy contract was awarded to a bogus company and no work was done.
In the years which followed, donor funding meant for reforming local government was discovered not to be reaching the intended areas. In November last year, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Ireland, Japan and Germany wrote to the Tanzania government asking for a refund of the money.
In a statement at the time, Finland’s foreign ministry said it wanted $108,000 refunded immediately following a special audit by the donors. “Payments to the support programme have been suspended,” said the statement, “and the whole programme will be terminated once the last investigations are completed in 2014.”
In 2009, Tanzania’s auditor general said that more than a third of the country’s annual budget was being stolen through bribery and corruption. Then the following year 2010 when Kikwete was seeking his current term, he faced stiff challenged from Willibrod Slaa, who campaigned hard on an anti-corruption platform, drawing widespread support from Tanzania’s youth. CCM was shocked. It was the first time; Nyerere’s party was being questioned by Tanzanians.
Various countries whose leaders have been branded as despotic are same ones that have hit the development jackpot. Botswana, Seychelles, Mauritius- in Africa, and Singapore, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates – all have been accused of all sorts of things. The downsides though; ask any global brand and they will tell you it’s the place to be.
On 27 December, 2012, the Tanzania Human Rights Activists group presented a 27 page document to the US congressional committee on Africa titled; ‘Tanzania Descent into Dictatorship’. The document outlines what the group said were “President Kikwete’s brutal killing of innocent civilians and oppression of democracy”.
Political activists were being detained for a simple reason of attempting to visit his political party branch. Peaceful defenseless women and children were being tear-gassed by the police for coming close to opposition rallies. School children protesting lack of teachers were met with battlefield weapons. Rights groups actually say hundreds have been arrested just for demanding their right to have teachers.
The media has not survived Kikwete’s grip on power. Journalist David Mwangosi was attacked with war machine guns by police. Incidentally, senior police chief Michael Kamuhanda was at the spot and is said to have sanctioned the attack.
Dr Stephen Ulimboka is the head of Tanzania Medical Doctors association. He has survived several attacks. Earlier in 2012, Dr. Ulimboka Kidnappers identified his attackers following a brutal assault on him; they were President Kikwete’s security detail.
Kikwete is no stranger to bizarre friendships. Weeks leading to Iranian oil Tankers registration, President Kikwete met with Iranian Vice president who requested him to help with the registration of the tankers to evade the international sanctions. Despite his denial following the letter below from Senate Foreign Relations committee, Kikwete, known in the west as a beggar, knew of the deal…..Defense Cooperative Agreement between the two countries, which is detailed in the leaked US diplomatic cables.
Tanzania intelligence agents along with CCM activists have been sent to Iran to be trained on how to disrupt elections on the pretext of religious tensions in 2015. All these are paid for by Iran including construction of multiple mosques in Tanzania. Kikwete’s main goal is to keep his party CCM in power to protect his vast financial interests acquired through corruption. Iranians also discussed with Kikwete on how to obtain Uranium which corroborate with information in the US diplomatic cables.
Those considered rogue businessmen have not been left without feeling President Kikwete’s powerful hand. This particular platform has previously carried graphic details of how disgruntled businessmen are fighting back. (Read story: How President Kikwete is mortgaging Tanzania).
Kikwete’s government decided to construct a gas pipeline from Mtwara, in the south to Bagamoyo, his home area which is in the north east. The $1.2billion project has sparked protests in Mtwara which have been suppressed with sheer force. The Mtwara people had hoped the gas in their region would uplift their extremely poor region, but were out for a shock; the gas will be sent elsewhere. Since March last year, more than 700 people have been jailed over the constant protests.
So when Kikwete tells you “I’m excited about leaving office next year”, like he said to the Chatham House audience, think twice before event taking it in. Tanzanians cannot wait for the day he leaves Dodoma. Here is a taste of the mood.
Early last year, rumours began circulating that Kikwete was seeking to change the way Tanzania is governed to give equal powers to three different levels of Tanzanian territory, in what was called the three-tier system. This contrasted completely with Nyerere’s vision of a Union in which Zanzibar and the main land were simply ONE.
Within a few weeks, more than 10 people in CCM declared they wanted the presidency. To fight back, Kikwete orchestrated a rebuttal in which they were suspended from CCM politics, accusing them of campaigning before election period. The political temperatures have been boiling high, and all doesn’t favour Kikwete in anyway. Actually if it was possible, Kikwete would prefer he left earlier.
“We want a new constitution before 2015,” reads this billboard