MREMA’S STUNNING VICTORY
After a very heated and rather negative campaign with much character assassination and many platitudes rather than policies, the Temeke by-election on October 6 nevertheless turned out to be free, fair and peaceful. The result astonished political commentators and greatly strengthened the position of NCCR-Mageuzi opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister, Augustine Mrema.
The result was as follows:
Augustine Mrema NCCR-Mageuzi 54,840
Abdul Cisco Mtiro CCM 33,113
Hiza Tambwe CUF 3,324
Alec Che Mponda TPP 515
Mege Omar UMD 422
Samson Msambara CHADEMA 217
Legile Msonde UPDP 162
Ndembe Abdallah PONA 120
Rashid Mtuta NRA 114
Brighton Nsanya NLD 69
Shabaan Matembo UDP 67
Rachel Mutayoba TLP 62
Paul Mtema TADEA 54
(The full titles of these parties were given in TA No. 52)
Towards the end of the by-election the candidates of eight smaller parties began to accept the new reality and announced that they wished to withdraw from the contest in favour of Mr Mrema. Another indication of the beginnings of cooperation between opposition parties was the withdrawal on November 19 of an election petition in Hai district in Moshi by a CHADEMA candidate against an NCCR-Mageuzi MP. The CHADEMA representative said that the dispute presented a negative image of the opposition and that opposition parties needed to cooperate against the CCM. Many smaller parties had been hoping to receive government subsidies for the by-election but these were given only to parties which had won at least 5% of the votes in the general elections in 1995 – these were the CCM, NCCR-Mageuzi, CUF and CHADEMA.
How did it happen? Although CCM brought in all its top people including, surprisingly, President Mkapa himself to support its candidate, most observers said that CCM’s campaign was poorly conducted; the government had had to remove the CCM controlled Dar es Salaam city council for general inefficiency and replace it by a government-appointed commission; there was much dissatisfaction about the mishandling of the elections in Dar es Salaam in 1995 – they had to be conducted twice; the budget had been unpopular: but, it was perhaps Mrema’s popular style and his characteristic demystification of the political process that had endeared him to the people. In the spirit of the new democracy Vice-President Dr. Omar Ali Juma congratulated Mr Mrema on his victory, and said that the government would give him maximum cooperation in his endeavour to bring about development in Temeke. And in the Mainland parliament itself relations between government and opposition MP’s are said to be cordial and the opposition is being constructive rather than destructive.
FOREIGN FUNDING FOR PARTIES
Just prior to the Temeke campaign Mr Mrema was in South Africa. He praised National Party leader Frederick de Klerk and said that he had received a warm welcome from South African Home Affairs Minister and Inkatha leader Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi. According to allegations reported in the Business Times the NCCR-Mageuzi party had received massive sums from the South African National and Inkatha parties during its 1995 election campaign. The CUF party was also alleged to be receiving funds from the Gulf and Scandinavia. Registrar of political parties George Liundi has said that there could be no objection to this foreign funding; CCM had been receiving assistance from China, Cuba and North Korea for decades.
TWO MP’S LOSE THEIR SEATS
Two former government ministers have lost their seats in parliament following petitions to the High Court. They are the NCCR-Mageuzi MP for Bunda, Musoma, Mr Stephen Wassira and the CCM MP for Muhambwe in Kigoma Region, Mr Arcado Ntagazwa.
It was former Prime Minister Joseph Warioba who petitioned against Wassira (the last election results gave Wassira 18,411 votes to Warioba’s 17,640). Mr Justice Lukangira said that there had been corrupt practices (Wassira had promised to issue sugar and salt to one village and had held parties in other villages), use of foul language to denigrate Warioba, and that there had been flouting of election rules and procedures. However, Justice Lukangira, in a controversial landmark decision, ruled that a determination that a person was guilty of corruption was not the same as a conviction for corruption, the former being a finding from a set of facts and the latter being an order consequent to the finding. Warioba has decided to appeal against this ruling so that the by-election originally scheduled for January 5 1997 had to be postponed because Wassira intended to stand. Mr Warioba would not be standing as he was joining the International Court of Justice.
Former Minister of Natural Resources Arcado Ntagazwa lost his seat on the grounds that he was a foreigner born in Burundi and therefore not eligible to stand in Tanzanian elections.
TOUGH ACTION ON SENIOR PERSONNEL
The purge of senior personnel started by President Mkapa following his inauguration last year continues and it is becoming apparent that the government is serious in doing something about the widespread corruption. According to the Daily News (September 3) the Finance Director of the Tanzania Cashewnut Board had been suspended for misuse of money meant for the Cashewnut Industry Development Fund and two other executives had been retired in the public interest. Eight officials of the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO), including two deputy managing directors, were suspended in late September pending investigation of allegations of misappropriation of funds. A new board of directors has been appointed at the Kilombero Sugar Company: the General Manager has been retired and several line managers were demoted for disciplinary reasons. At the end of September it was announced that the Board of Directors of the National Housing Corporation (NHC) had dismissed two senior officials and demoted four others, all of whose names were published, for misappropriation of public funds and maladministration. On October 18 the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives was said by the Daily News to have confirmed that the Managing Director of the Tanzania Sisal Authority (which is to be privatised) was on suspension pending investigation of an alleged mismanagement of Shs 1 billion. On October 25 Health Minister Mrs Zakhia Meghji announced that she had ordered the transfer of seven officers from the Dar es Salaam port health office following accusations by importers that they were corrupt and inefficient. And the next day the Daily News main front page headline read ‘ATC Officials suspended’; it went on to say that ‘ almost the entire management of Air Tanzania Corporation (ATC) has been sent on forced leave to give room for auditors from Price Waterhouse to investigate the company’s accounts following an emergency meeting of the board of directors. The management was said not to have planned properly for the lease of an aircraft to replace the Boeing 737 ‘Serengeti’ which had to be sent away for service. The most recent development has been a reorganisation of CCM’s Youth wing and changes in top staff.
In Zanzibar President Amour sacked the Unguja Central District Commissioner for failing to resolve a dispute amongst fishermen which had resulted in one death.
FINANCE MINISTER RESIGNS
But the most important sign that things have changed in Tanzania came on November 3 when Tanzania’s Finance Minister Professor Simon Mbilinyi announced his resignation after weeks of speculation. Minister of State (Planning) in the President’s Office Mr Daniel Yona was appointed Acting Minister of Finance.
The problem had first come to light in parliament on August 2 when CCM MP Chrisant Mzindakaya demanded an explanation from the minister on a decision by his ministry to exempt four companies from paying an import tax of Shs 300 million (25% flat rate) – as laid down in the 1996/97 budget – on 5,500 tons of cooking oil. The matter soon became a major political issue and some MP’s demanded the minister’s resignation. Under great pressure from press and parliament Professor Mbilinyi announced on August 14 that he had reversed his decision. He had originally granted the exemptions, he said, because the goods arrived in the port before June 20, 1996 and that the exemptions were therefore proper. But this was questioned by others who said that taxes should be paid on the date they are cleared from customs control.
NCCR leader Augustine Mrema lost no time in bringing the issue up in the Temeke by-election and openly accused Mbilinyi and other named persons in his ministry of having accepted Shs 900 million in bribes.
On September 24 a parliamentary select committee, under the chairmanship of businessman/banker and CCM MP Iddi Simba, which had been set up to examine the allegations, issued a 42- page report. It recommended that the President should take action against the minister – he should be ‘made accountable’. The committee said that they had failed to prove that the professor had accepted any inducement but there was sufficient circumstantial evidence ‘which led the committee to make its decision’. Normal procedures had been flouted. Mr Simba also criticised Mr Mrema saying that his charges that certain persons had received Shs 900 million in bribes were based on forged documents.
The Tanzania Oil Manufacturers Association categorically denied any underhand dealings with any government official but the minister finally resigned. President Mkapa’s press secretary said that he had resigned ‘to let state organs investigate allegations of corruption which had been made against him’ and ‘as a move to strengthen solidarity in the party and government’.
On November 7 the National Assembly directed the government to investigate corruption charges against the Finance Minister and other CCM and government officials and report within six months~ the Attorney General should then take appropriate action. New MP, Mr Augustine Mrema, said that if the documents he had presented to the committee were to be further examined they should be examined by an international police body and not by Tanzanians.
Britain is seemingly not alone in having a divided ruling party. According to the Business Times (August 16) there was another explanation of what was going on as regards Professor Mbilinyi. There was evidence of a conspiracy by a certain clique of people who had held senior positions in the previous government but who now sat as backbenchers in parliament to damage the Mkapa government by implicating the professor. New African (December) went further and quoted Professor Mbilinyi as saying that ‘the war being waged was not against him personally but against the whole government’. The article went on to name the ‘old guard’ of CCM members who were said to be against the Mkapa government ~ it named Select Committee Chairman Iddi Simba as well as former Prime Ministers John Malecela and Cleopa Msuya and even former President Mwinyi.
An indication that there might be some truth in all this came when President Mkapa stated publicly, according to the East African (November 18), that there were divisions amongst the senior establishment of the CCM party which had interfered with his efforts to lead the country effectively. “If we don’t pull together now … CCM will have a poor record to show Tanzanians come the next elections in the year 2000” he was quoted as saying.
On November 22 the Business Times reported that it believed that CCM was going to tighten up its control of its MP’s and insist on them supporting all bills presented by government to parliament.
THE KOMBE REPORT
The day after the Mbilinyi probe report President Mkapa received the report of the committee set up to investigate the killing of Lt. General Imrani Kombe, the former chief of intelligence (see TA No 55). Fifty two witnesses had been interviewed. The report stated that the government was not involved in any way in the killing but the full report could not be released until court cases against the police officers involved had been completed.