Former Foreign Minister Oscar Kambona finally returned to Tanzania after 25 years in exile on September 5th. The Government had earlier announced that it would allow him into the country for three months during which time he would have to clear the question of his citizenship. He travelled on a United Nations document issued by the British authorities. He arrived smiling, with his daughter Neema, and was apparently, surprised at the number of people at the airport to welcome him.
But his appearance, according to ‘Africa Events’, greyhaired and overweight, was a shock to Tanzanians ‘who remembered him as the debonair and jaunty side-kick of Nyerere, whose distinctive hair style was copied by the dashing young men of the time. His press conferences have revealed him as out of touch and preoccupied with settling old scores. ‘
“Millions in Foreign Banks”
Addressing a public rally of his party (TADEA) in Dar es Salaam on November 21 he alleged that Mwalimu Nyerere, former CCM Vice Chairman Rashidi Kawawa and Ambassador Amir Jamal had “millions of money deposited in foreign banks” He claimed that if the money was returned to Tanzania the country would not require to borrow again for the next ten years. For failing to support his allegations with any written evidence some people attending the rally complained that “Kambona amekwishatuacha kwenye mataa.”
Mwalimu Nyerere later denied Kambona’s allegations and challenged him to produce evidence. He told reporters that Kambona’s utterances at his mass rally constituted a breach of the law. Mwalimu declared before the press that he doesn’t have a penny abroad.
Later, Kambona was required by the lawyers of the three leaders to produce, within fifteen days from December 80, evidence to support his allegations. The letter from the lawyers demanded an apology. If Kambona failed to substantiate his claims he was threatened with legal action.
The Break with Nyerere
The Dar es Salaam ‘Express’ published, two weeks after his return, a lengthy interview in which Kambona gave his version of the main reason why he broke his political partnership with Nyerere, It was because of Mwalimu’s glorification of Mao Tse Tung, he said. On his return from a visit abroad, Nyerere had wanted to appoint him Minister of Rural Development to establish the kind of communal farming that Mwalimu had seen in China. Kambona refused the offer of the post and was not offered another one. “Why did you not just become a back bencher in Parliament. Why did you go to England?” “In order not to create instability. I had a large following especially among the youth. I had to make a statement that I had resigned because of ill health”. Kambona also indicated in the interview that he was opposed to Nyerere on a number of other issues including the One Party State. He also answered a question about what he had been doing in London these past years. “I did business. I used to go to the Arab countries. But this did not last…. I then depended on income support in Britain. Every Tuesday you take your book to the Post Office”.
The Army Mutiny
Asked in an interview in the ‘Business Times’ why he had handed back power to Nyerere after the 1964 army mutiny he replied that it was because he believed that a leader must be elected by the people and Nyerere had been elected. Kambona, who was Minister of Defence at the time when Nyerere disappeared temporarily from the scene, said that he had been asked by foreign embassies and also by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta whether he was going to seize power. No, he had replied, it was his duty to see that the country remained peaceful. Are you still friends with Nyerere?” “I think that Nyerere is still my friend. We had no personal differences. Our differences were political. He believes in nationalisation and in the control of the economy.. , . I believe that the economy must be free,. . .when my party is registered we will bury the Arusha Declaration”.
‘Stop Blowing Your Own Trumpet’
An irate reader of the Business Times’, Balinagwe Mwambungu, found what he described as ‘all this mudslinging against our leader and father’ too much to bear. He wrote, in a prominently displayed letter to the editor: ‘Kambona, history has recorded that you were at one time involved in a plot to overthrow the Government of Tanzania by force of arms – ready to spill the innocent blood of the very people you profess to love. Deep in your heart you know that you did us wrong. Your vaulting ambition to rule would have led this country into chaos….If Tanzania was under a tyrant, as you claim, and the Arusha Declaration oppressive (why did you have to) go into exile? (Are you) a shepherd that runs away when a wolf attacks the flock? I admire leaders who, despite the country’s poverty, refused to let anyone die of hunger. Acquaint yourself with the realities prevailing in the rural areas before unveiling the London-made Tanzania Democratic Alliance. Tanzania is a vibrant nation holding itself in esteem. It has a glorious history … I call you a hypocrite because you were the one who led the massive rally that demonstrated in support of the Arusha Declaration two days after its announcement on Sunday February 5th 1967. Remember? You wore a white ‘chou en lai’ and had a megaphone in your hand and your voice went hoarse because of the singing and dancing, I was there…..