A compelling and frightening Tanzanian case


Police finally declared early this week that they have launched investigation on the fresh allegations about the possible poisoning of deputy Minister for Works, Kyela legislator, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe.

Dr Harrison Mwakyembe

The deputy minister for Works, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe

After verbal exchange between two cabinet Minsiters, the Police, finally declared that ‘they were investigating thoroughly the allegations that Dr Mwakyembe may have been poisoned mid last year, in a bid to assassinate him.

Dr Mwakyembe’s tragedy has been a one step ahead, but two steps back, since May 2009, when he was involved in a controversial road accident, which led some of his friends and allies to believe that there was a conspiracy to assassinate him following his crucial role in Richmond saga.

Few months later Dr. Mwakyembe revealed a detailed mission to assassinate him, adding that his enemies have pondered many options including hiring assassins from the Somali based terrorists, Al-Shabaab group to assassinate him.
Dr Mwakyembe issued full details including the vehicles’ registration numbers, which were used by his watchers during their preliminary mission to eliminate him. But surprisingly even after all these details issued by credible lawyer, a prominent MP and deputy cabinet Minister, nothing happened.

Finally Dr Mwakyembe suffered a strange skin disease believed to have been caused by poisoning resulting from deadly chemicals imported in the country from abroad, according to some of his close allies.
When Dr Mwakyembe’s episodes are summed up together, dating back to his heydays before and post Richmond saga as the member of the Parliament who chaired the powerful Parliamentary committee that changed the political landscape within the ruling party, his current tragedy raises more questions beyond the horizon on whether Tanzania is slowly becoming another Kenya of 60s, 70s and 90s or not.

Listening and reading the latest episode about the cause of the illness of Kyela Legislator and deputy Minister for works, Dr. Harrison Mwakyembe, early this week, one main thing emerged: he and his allies believe he was indeed poisoned.
While many are still disturbed by the news that Dr. Mwakyembe may have been poisoned, the latest episode expressed in the church contained some heart lifting observations, that he has again started to wear shoes unlike earlier, and his skin is beginning to heal up. It means the poison has largely been cleared.

Former Speaker Samuel Sitta who accompanied the deputy minister for Works to church at the start of a thanksgiving tour of various churches in the coming weeks, is affirmative about the poisoning. According to Sitta, Dr Mwakyembe was poisoned and the government is aware about these grave allegations. “I was with him in India and spent much time in the hospital and therefore I know what I am talking.” Sitta said last week, adding that the Police should investigate and arrest all those responsible in this mafia-style move.

“I strongly say he (Dr Mwakyembe) was poisoned but if the security organs deny these allegations then they should tell us the truth.” Sita told thousands of believers who gathered in Kawe Revival Church last Sunday.
Just one day after Sitta’s grave allegations, the Minister for Home Affairs, Shamsi Vuai Nahodha fired back by claiming that the government wasn’t aware about the allegations and challenged the former Speaker of the National Assembly to submit his evidence to the Police.

Two cabinet Ministers exchanging words about the illness of Dr Mwakyembe cast doubt as well as creating more questions than answers. But, since Dr. Mwakyembe’s closest political ally is publicly disclosing that his comrade was poisoned, it means he knows what really transpired because he might have read the findings of India’s medical experts.
This leaves us with no doubt that Dr. Mwakyembe was poisoned. The only questions that need to be addressed urgently are who poisoned him, why and when was it done?

However what Minister Nahodha doesn’t seem to take into account is that ‘only medical experts can prove whether someone was poisoned or not’ and to get evidence about this the Police would have involved medical experts in the country as well as from abroad.

How can you prove that the cause of the skin disease was poisoning? It’s by either reading the findings of India’s medical experts or order fresh medical examination on Dr. Mwakyembe to determine what occurred in his health situation, to establish whether he was poisoned or not. At this stage it should be understood that you are not accusing anyone. What you are trying to establish is the hypothesis that the Deputy Minister was poisoned or not.

Once confirmed, then the next stage will be to investigate any suspected individuals who might have poisoned Dr. Mwakyembe. It’s therefore appalling and shocking to hear the Home Affairs minister’s remarks because he should be the last person to demand evidence from the former Speaker.

The truth is that it’s the Minister for Home affairs who should tell the public about what really transpired because under his docket there are Police whose duty is to protect Tanzanians and their property. If the Police are not aware, then something is wrong within the Force itself as well as within our security agencies.

A legislator who also serves as Deputy Minister is seriously sick. He and his allies claim that his illness was caused by poison, which was well coordinated by his political foes. These are very serious allegations that would have been thoroughly investigated by our security organs.

But what Tanzanians are witnessing today is the sense of impunity, which in from the late 1960s to the late 80s clouded Kenya when several prominent politicians were mysteriously murdered or simply vanished. When a country gets into that kind of murky politics, it takes a long time and spilling of blood for impunity to be ended, and Kenya is reasonably an excellent example in that regard as well.

From road accident to poison claims
When outspoken Kyela Dr Mwakyembe was injured after his car lost control and overturned in Iringa Region in May, 2009, the incident was quickly associated with an assassination attempt by his political foes.

Though Police in Iringa region rushed to conclude that there was no foul play in the accident, some family members, friends and a section of were still suspicious about the circumstances involving the accident, which nearly killed the MP who led the parliamentary committee that investigated the Richmond energy scandal.

Police earlier claimed that Mwakyembe’s car was trying to overtake a lorry when it hit a pothole and lost control after its front right-side wheel popped, but fresh details show that the car was hit at the rear by the lorry.

Tanroads officials in Iringa Region contradicted the police reports, saying the pothole was too minor to have caused such a big impact on a vehicle cruising at 80kph.

Mwakyembe was travelling with evidence on the identity of those running the Richmond and Dowans companies, according to close relatives who spoke to The Guardian on Sunday on condition of anonymity.

If Mwakyembe’s friends and families were to deduce that he had been the target of an assassination staged as an accident, it would only reflect a worrying pattern within African politics, where time and again a politician seemingly on the precipice of true change suffers a conveniently timed, brutally tragic demise.

The controversy behind road accidents involving top leaders in Tanzania dates back to April 12, 1984, when Prime Minister Edward Moringe Sokoine died in a road accident in Morogoro while on his way to Dar es Salaam, where he was scheduled to handle tough assignments on corruption.

Many Tanzanians were reluctant to believe that it was a real accident, and there are some who are still calling for a thorough investigation of the crash.

Julius Nyerere did not entirely help to put the rumours to rest. “Let’s believe it is an accident,” he said of the death of Sokoine, one of his key allies during the war against corruption and economic sabotage.

But his voice, eyes and cadence all indicated that he was also questioning the official explanation.

Sokoine was known for his tough stance on corrupt leaders and economic saboteurs that sent some top leaders to prison between 1980 and 1984, and he had clearly found enemies within and outside the ruling party.

Sokoine, a politician who rose from the prominent Maasai community, had touched the hearts and minds of Tanzanians with his strong leadership.
Back to Dr. Mwakyembe’s current situation if proved that he was poisoned as publicly claimed by his closest political ally last Sunday, then Tanzanian politics will be a dangerous game involving the mafia-like assassination attempt or the notorious Russia intelligence Agency, Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (KGB).

For some years there have been rumours that there were some conspirators at work in Tanzania targeting some potential threat by staging road accidents, but no one has ever heard of allegations of poisoning of a prominent figure like Dr Mwakyembe.

In East Africa, Kenya and Uganda were notorious in political assassination with some prominent politicians being assassinated by the hired snipers in what was connected by the State in those countries.

In Kenya, assassinations have been a regular feature of its succession politics. Kenyan scholar, Charles N. Mwaura in a study paper titled – ‘Political Succession and Related Conflicts in Kenya,’ notes that when elite interests broaden, violent conflict does manifest itself through assassinations of leading political figures.

The conflicts, he writes, often relatively restrain and characterize by competition among elites for political power and restrict within the status quo. Assassinations and murder, he says, become alternative instruments of elite competition against those who threaten the ruling faction and he mentions Pio Pinto, Tom Mboya, Ronald Ngala, J.M. Kariuki, Robert Ouko and Alexander Muge, as key casualties in the first three decades of elite contest.

Tom Mboya was just 39 years old when he was shot dead by a lone gunman in 1969 while Josiah Mwangi Karuiki was barely 42 years old in 1975 when he was murdered by suspected state agents in horrid circumstance.

Whether measured by its devastation to Dr Mwakyembe’s health or the fear it has brought within the ruling party, if proved to be a politically motivated assassination attempt, then Tanzania has followed the footsteps of Kenya and Uganda.

Source The Guardian


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