by Ben Taylor
Deo Filikunjombe MP, was killed in a helicopter crash in the Selous a week before election day, when he was due to seek re-election as MP for Ludewa, representing CCM. Though aged just 43 and having served only one 5-year term as an MP, his impact on Tanzanian politics was substantial.
As deputy chair of parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, he formed a close friendship and highly effective partnership with the committee’s chairman, the firebrand opposition MP, Zitto Kabwe. Though a few years younger and representing a different party, Zitto became a mentor to Filikunjombe, and there were rumours earlier in 2015 that Filikunjombe might defect from CCM and run for re-election on the ticket of Zitto’s new party, ACT Wazalendo.
Together with a third young MP, from another different party – David Kafulila of NCCR Mageuzi – Filikunjombe and Kabwe were instrumental in demanding accountability from senior politicians and public servants for the Tanesco / IPTL scandal, popularly known as the “Escrow” case. (See TA110 for a full report of the case.) It was the Public Accounts Committee’s report, read in parliament jointly by the chair and deputy chair, that prompted the resignations or sackings of the Attorney General, Frederick Werema, the Minister of Energy and Minerals, Professor Muhongo and the Minister of Lands and Housing, Anna Tibaijuka, as well as several others losing senior positions within the party machinery and/or within parliament.
This was Filikunjombe’s most prominent political role to date, reading out damning details of the scandal and calling for the resignation of a Prime Minister from his own party, Mizengo Pinda, seated just a few yards away. It cemented his reputation as an anti-corruption campaigner, and as a brave and principled politician who was prepared to take on senior figures in his own party in the cause of accountability.
Following his untimely death, tributes flowed from across the political spectrum. “Apart from being the best man during my wedding and close friend, Filikunjombe was one of very few MPs from the ruling party who stood firm against corruption. He played a great role to ensure that all culprits of the escrow scandal were held accountable,” said Kafulila.
January Makamba of CCM said this was a loss not only to the ruling party but to the nation as a whole. He said Filikunjombe had always put the national interests first.
Zitto Kabwe acclaimed Filikunjombe as a fighter against corruption. “We have been robbed of a great leader,” he said. Following his own election as MP for Kigoma Urban, he added “I dedicate this to my friend Deo Haule Filikunjombe. It is his victory and I won’t celebrate this as to me the election became meaningless.”
Rev Christopher Mtikila, the pro-Tanganyika campaigner and serially litigious opposition politician, died in a car crash near Chalinze in early October, aged 65. He was travelling to Dar es Salaam from Njombe, where he had attended election campaign rallies for candidates representing the Democratic Party (DP), of which Rev Mtikila was chairman.
Coast Regional Police Commander Jaffari Mohamed said their initial investigations had found that Rev Mtikila had not fastened his seat belt when their speeding Toyota Corolla overturned after swerving off the road to avoid an oncoming lorry. Three other occupants escaped with injuries that were not life-threatening.
Rev Mtikila, a preacher of the Full Salvation Church who hailed from the Anglican mission of Milo in Ludewa district, had played a prominent role in shaping multiparty democracy in Tanzania. He had fought controversial campaigns, often through the courts, taking on the Anglican church, prominent politicians and the political establishment to argue in favour of private (independent) candidates, constitutional reform, and for a greater recognition of Tanganyika as a separate entity in the new constitution. His voice was often a lonely one, though he undoubtedly had many supporters who preferred a less public profile. His campaigns for indigenisation of the economy and for empowerment of the poorest in society won him some public popularity, but his determination to take on the government meant he remained always an outsider.
His biggest victory was the ruling of the African Court of Human and People’s Rights in 2013, that provisions of the Tanzanian constitution that required electoral candidates to be members of and sponsored by political parties – thus disallowing independent candidates – contravened various international laws. This was the culmination of a battle started by Rev Mtikila as far back as 1993, which the government of Tanzania had fought against at every turn. Unfortunately for Mtikila, the failure to conclude the constitutional review process meant that he never came to see independent candidates allowed, though it now seems probable that his victory on this issue will soon become formally respected in law.
On other issues, Mtikila was more successful at raising the public profile of the issues he championed than at winning office or changing law or policy. His campaign for constitutional reform gained momentum when first the CHADEMA leadership and then President Kikwete saw opportunities in making the issue their own. His campaign for an independent Tanganyika only gained strength when met with a similar (and much stronger) movement for independence for Zanzibar.
He will be remembered as a divisive figure. Admirers will credit his militancy for energising multi-party politics in Tanzania. Others will see him as a racist, populist loose canon, whose pronouncements and campaigns represented a very real danger to peace and stability.
His coffin was draped with the old Tanganyika flag.
The outgoing Minister for Trade and Industry, Dr Abdallah Kigoda MP, has died in India where he had been receiving treatment for liver problems, at age of 62.
Having been elected to parliament on the CCM ticket in 1995, representing Handeni, Dr Kigoda served as Minister in several different ministries. Under President Mkapa, he was Minister for Trade and Industry from 1996 to 1997, Minister for Energy and Minerals from 1997 to 2000, and Minister of State in the President’s Office for Planning and Privatisation from 2000 to 2005. Throughout this time, Kigoda was seen as a key player in pushing the privatisation agenda forward across industry, mining and parastatals.
Through a combination of his ministerial roles, his significant positions within the CCM party machinery and his close friendship with President Mkapa, Dr Kigoda was seen as a possible presidential candidate in 2005. He put his name forward for nomination, but was overlooked in favour of Jakaya Kikwete.
In 2005, the newly elected President Kikwete declined to give Dr Kigoda a ministerial role in his new cabinet. It wasn’t until 2012 that he turned to Dr Kigoda and re-appointed him to his previous role as Minister of Trade and Industry, a position he held until his death.
Celina Kombani MP, the outgoing Minister of State in the President’s Office for Public Service Management, has died in India, aged 56, where she had been receiving treatment for cancer.
Ms Kombani had represented Ulanga East since 2005. Immediately she was given a ministerial role, as Deputy Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office for Regional Administration and Local Government, under Prime Minister Lowassa. Following Lowassa’s resignation in 2008, she was promoted to Minister of State in the same department.
In President Kikwete’s second term, Ms Kombani served first as Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, then as Minister of State in the President’s Office for Public Service Management.
Residents in Ulanga said they would miss her greatly, as she had been known as a very good constituency MP, supporting students and entrepreneurs and catalysing development in the area – including improving local roads.
A noted Danish lichenologist, Vagn Alstrup, was shot and killed during a robbery at his home in Dar es Salaam. He was 71 years old.
Alstrup, who worked for the University of Copenhagen, lived in Tanzania and considered the country his second home. He has published a number of book on the subject of lichenology, the study of fungi.
He was a highly respected figure within his field, most particularly on the subject of lichenicolous fungi, parasitic fungi that live only on lichen as a host. He was a keen educator who arranged many field camps and courses and would always make time to patiently explain the fine differences between different lichens to anyone who was interested.
The chairman of the opposition party, National League for Democracy (NLD), Dr Emmanuel Makaidi, has died in Lindi, aged 74, during the election campaign in October. He had fallen sick a few days earlier, while campaigning.
Dr Makaidi held a PhD in political science from Harvard University, though he struggled to translate this into political success on the ground. Though he ran for the Presidency in 2005 on the NLD ticket, placing seventh of ten candidates with 0.19% of the vote, he came to greater prominence in 2014, when he took his party into the opposition coalition, UKAWA, alongside three much bigger parties: CHADEMA, CUF and NCCR Mageuzi. He became the coalition’s co-chair, and was chosen as the coalition’s sole candidate for the Masasi parliamentary seat. Nevertheless, he faced a tough battle within the constituency from supporters of other UKAWA parties who felt they were better placed to take on CCM.
CHADEMA chairman, Freeman Mbowe, expressed his sadness at the loss. “Dr Makaidi was with us since the inception of UKAWA during the Constituent Assembly sitting and was an important member of the alliance whose aim is to oust CCM. … He will be sorely missed,” he said.