For the first time, the four main opposition parties in the National Assembly, seem to have agreed to work together using corruption as the weapon with which to attack the government. As reported in Tanzanian Affairs No 88, things started going badly for the government in August 2007 when the young CHADEMA MP for Kigoma, Zitto Kabwe, tried to table a motion in the National Assembly to set up an investigation into the signing of an agreement for the Buzwagi gold mine. The Speaker suspended Kabwe because he said he had humiliated the Minster of Energy and Minerals in his speech. During the next few days a big public outcry began against what was described as the excessive length of Kabwe’s suspension – until early 2008.
For the first time CCM began to speak openly about Zitto Kabwe. CCM Deputy Secretary General, Captain Jaka Mwambi, urged care with the issues raised by Kabwe. Addressing an electoral meeting, Mwambi said that Zitto had become a heavyweight. Despite his ‘red card’ (suspension) many people were cheering him and that included CCM members. The opposition had scored a political point and CCM needed to elect good leaders who could stand up and argue cases with him.
Meanwhile, a Catholic priest in Dar es Salaam, Baptise Mapunda, described Zitto Kabwe as a saviour. Many people in Tanzania were timid like crows and did not dare to stand up against the devil. “I am a servant of God and not a politician, but I have to speak the truth that Kabwe is God-sent to tell the truth.” – Mtanzania.
At about the same time, CHADEMA Deputy Chief Dr Wilbroad Slaa tried to table another motion on the alleged scam at the Bank of Tanzania. “I am going to tell the public why the government instructed the National Assembly Speaker, Samwel Sitta, to block my private motion.” But eventually he did drop it saying that the prevailing parliamentary system would not allow such a sensitive matter to be dealt with properly. By September 18th the Sunday Observer reported that at a huge rally in Dar es Salaam the leaders of four opposition parties supported Zitto Kabwe and addressed people who had been annoyed by Kabwe’s four month suspension. Kabwe said that he was fighting for a just cause – to safeguard the resources of the country. Meanwhile, in Arusha an NGO of small-scale miners collected TShs 500,000 to assist Kabwe in his campaign.
CHADEMA then hired a helicopter for Kabwe to tour eleven mainland regions accompanied by top party leaders Freeman Mbowe and Wilbroad Slaa.
On September 14, while addressing a joint opposition rally in Dar es Salaam, Slaa announced the names of ten leaders who he claimed were involved in skimming off billions from public funds over the years. Among them were a President, former ministers, two permanent secretaries and a lawyer. Slaa gave examples of dubious contracts and agreements signed with foreign investors – Majira.
CHADEMA MP for Moshi Urban, Philemon Ndesamburo, went further and told reporters it was pathetic that President Kikwete went globe trotting while the country was in turmoil. “He should have booted out the whole cabinet and run the government through permanent secretaries. It is a crisis situation and he needs more time to appoint reliable ministers” he said – Mwananchi.
Meanwhile CHADEMA itself was not without its problems. According to the Swahili press the leadership had to deny that there were differences within the party. Tarime MP and deputy chairperson Chacha Wangwe, told the press that there was no row within the party, and he had never accused the leadership of misuse of funds or of ethnic bias. Party Leader Freeman Mbowe said “We are as united as ever, but the pro-CCM media has been trying to smear us.” Wangwe was elected party deputy chairperson by 56 votes to 38 after a heated debate. He will hold the office for one year, and, according to the media, might then try to replace Mbowe. Some CHADEMA members were reported to consider Wangwe an ‘unguided missile’ and others baptised him ‘the Jacob Zuma of CHADEMA’ – Mtanzania