by Ben Taylor
Aboud Jumbe Mwinyi, former President of Zanzibar, died in Dar es Salaam in August, aged 96. Jumbe is remembered for his major role in bringing stability to Zanzibar after the assassination of his predecessor, the late Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume, in April 1972, and for his controversial stance on the relationship between Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania. Zanzibaris from all sides of the political divide mourned his passing.
A graduate of Makerere University in Uganda, Jumbe joined the Zanzibar Revolutionary Government in January 1964. Prior to Karume’s assassination, he had been the minister of state responsible for Union Affairs, which brought him into close contact with the Union government. It is rumoured that Union President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, played a decisive role in Jumbe’s rise to succeed Karume.
Mzee Jumbe began to represent Mwalimu on the world stage when Mwalimu himself could not attend. He later agreed quickly to Nyerere’s proposal to merge TANU, the independence party of mainland Tanzania, with the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) that ruled Zanzibar, and became vice chair of the new party, CCM.
Jumbe saw a need for change in the politics of Zanzibar as its relations with the Union government became increasingly strained. After the war with Idi Amin, he engineered small changes towards greater democracy. Among other things, this led to a new constitution for Zanzibar and the establishment of the House of Representatives.
But growing calls for either separation from mainland Tanzania or a changed format of the Union could not be silenced forever. With the help of a Ghananian lawyer, Jumbe secretly produced a document in defence of a three-government (Zanzibar, Tanganyika and the Union) structure. But his secret document was stolen from his office and landed in the hands of president Julius Nyerere. On January 29, 1984, he lost four leadership positions: Chairman of the Zanzibar Revolutionary Council, Vice Chair of CCM, Zanzibar President and Vice President of the Union government. Ali Hassan Mwinyi took over as Zanzibar leader, and Jumbe stepped back from political leadership.
President John Magufuli called Jumbe “an important person who devoted himself in the fight for freedom, unity, justice and development of Zanzibaris and Tanzanians in general at a time when the country was passing through difficult times.”
Roland Brown played a significant role in the development of Tanzania and of its international relations throughout most of the first two decades after Independence. During that long period he was one of three British expatriate advisers who worked very closely with President Nyerere and his government. (The others were Joan Wicken, Mwalimu’s personal assistant, and Professor Reginald Green who advised on financial and economic affairs).
Roland had met Nyerere in the UK when Mwalimu was studying there in the 1950s, and thereafter served as a constitutional adviser to him. At Independence, Roland became Tanzania’s first Attorney General (AG), serving between 1961 and 1965. Probably his biggest assignment as AG was to get involved in the top-level discussions following the Zanzibar Revolution in 1964, when Mwalimu asked him to prepare the agreement that was to govern the union of Zanzibar and the Mainland. Reportedly, this was drafted in complete secrecy, even without the knowledge of key Zanzibaris.
After Roland was succeeded as AG by Mark Bomani in 1965, he stayed on in Tanzania as Mwalimu’s adviser on international and commercial legal affairs. Among many other things, he worked on the extensive nationalisations after the 1967 Arusha Declaration – devising, for instance, the legislative framework for the nationalisation of the private commercial banks (which he was given just three days to do).
Mwalimu also ‘loaned out’ Roland for important external assignments. Following the mass riots in the Zambian Copper Belt in the 1960s Roland was asked by Kaunda to head a Commission of Inquiry. Then, in the 1970s, as Rhodesia headed uncertainly to independence, Nyerere nominated Roland to represent Joshua Nkomo in the all-party discussions. He recalled how he sat for several days in the hot train stationed midway across the Victoria Falls Bridge that was the venue for those acrimonious talks, as Mugabe, Nkomo and other nationalist leaders argued out a possible independence scenario with Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith and the South African Prime Minister Vorster.
Roland had left Tanzania in the late-1970s to become Special Adviser (Legal) at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London – in which capacity he continued to advise Tanzania, especially on energy and mineral sector matters. Working closely with Hon. Al Noor Kassum (the Minister for Water, Energy and Minerals) and Andrew Chenge (then an Attorney in the AG’s Chambers), Roland was instrumental in framing Tanzania’s Petroleum (Exploration & Production) Act 1980 – an Act that served the country well for the next 35 years.
In the mid-1980s, Roland moved to New York to become Chief Legal Counsel at the UN Centre for Transnational Corporations (UNCTC), from which position he retired in the 1990s to establish in Sussex a private consultancy, Transborder Investment Advisory Services.
At different points in his career Roland had also been a part time lecturer at Cambridge University and later a visiting research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies in Sussex. He also advised the Labour Cabinet minister Peter Shore for a number of years.
Following the death of his wife, Irene, Roland left the UK more than a decade ago to live with his son in Denmark. He commenced the preparation of a light memoir about the decolonisation period in East Africa, based on his first-hand experience there with Mwalimu and his many meetings with Presidents Jomo Kenyatta, Kenneth Kaunda, Seretse Khama and other leading politicians of the time. In preparing that memoir he was given special access to the FCO files pertaining to that momentous period. It is not known if he finished his thesis before falling ill. He died aged 92 in a Copenhagen nursing home on 14 May 2016.
Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Samwel Sitta, passed away in Germany in November, aged 74.
Mr Sitta entered parliament in 1975, representing Urambo constituency for CCM. He served as Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs in the early 1990s, supervising the transition to multiparty democracy, and Minister for East African Cooperation and Minister for Transport during President Kikwete’s second term. At various times he also held posts as Director General of the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) and as a Regional Commissioner. Having failed to win the CCM nomination for president in 2015, he stepped down from active politics.
Sitta will be remembered most for his five-year term steering parliament as Speaker from 2005 to 2010, a period that many see as the time when parliament found its role. He earned a reputation for “speed and standards.” His leadership was instrumental in ensuing the Richmond energy scandal was debated in full in parliament, leading to the downfall of Edward Lowassa as Prime Minister. And he made no secret of his desire to weaken party control – including in his own party CCM – of MPs and parliamentary processes. This approach and his co-authorship of a book, “A parliament with teeth,” lost him support within CCM and the party ensured he did not continue as Speaker after the 2010 elections.
Mr Sitta’s time as chair of the 2014 Constituent Assembly, reviewing the draft national constitution prepared by Justice Warioba, is remembered less fondly by some. Many of his previous supporters in the opposition – who had applauded his appointment as chair of the assembly – were disappointed when Sitta appeared to play a more partisan role than he had done as Speaker.
Nevertheless, Sitta is personally credited by many for the transforming parliament into a respected national institution – and his time as Speaker will be remembered for fruitful, non-partisan debates. Some of the warmest tributes came from leaders of opposition parties. Chadema chairman, Freeman Mbowe, praised Mr Sitta “for freeing Parliament from the shackles of the executive”, and transforming it into an independent organ with powers to fearlessly scrutinise the government. “There’s no other Speaker who came after him who has managed to command the House respect as he did,” said Halima Mdee, also of Chadema.
Former Prime Minister John Malecela described him as the “unsung hero of pluralism” who engineered the transition to multiparty democracy. He ensured that country’s legal framework accommodated changes. President Magufuli praised Mr Sitta for “his hardworking attitude, nationalism and culture of defending truth at various levels of his leadership as a civil servant or politician.
Long-serving cabinet minister, Joseph Mungai, has died in Dar es Salaam after a short illness, aged 73. Mungai had served for 35 years as MP for Mufindi, and held three major ministerial roles. In 1972, under President Nyerere, he became Minister for Agriculture at the age of 28. Later presidents also put their trust in him, appointing him to sensitive dockets as Minister of Education under President Mkapa and Home Affairs under President Kikwete.
In February 2008, Mungai retired, taking the opportunity of Kikwete’s decision to dissolve cabinet following the resignation of Prime Minister Edward Lowassa. He did not leave politics entirely, however. He remained as an MP until 2010, and in 2015 he surprised many when he joined the exodus of many of Lowassa’s supporters from CCM to Chadema when the former Prime Minister became the opposition UKAWA coalition’s presidential candidate.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and East Africa Corporation, Augustine Mahiga, described Mr Mungai as an “icon and true leader”.
Former Mayor of Dar es Salaam, Didas Masaburi, died in October at Muhimbili Hospital in Dar es Salaam, where he had been receiving treatment. He was 56 years old.
During his life, Mr Masburi served in various positions which include Dar es Salam mayor – from 2010 to 2015 – a member of the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) as well as the Dar es Salaam Regional chairman of CCM youth wing. He had contested the seat of Ubungo, Dar es Salaam, in the 2015 parliamentary election, losing out to Saed Kubenea of Chadema.
President John Magufuli led mourners paying their last respects. He prompted chuckles at the funeral by acknowledging that Masaburi had five wives and more than 20 children, adding that it was not shameful to have many wives and children. “It is normal in African culture to have many wives and children, so I take this opportunity to extend my condolences to all the widows regardless of their legitimacy,” he said.