From today’s The Citizen:
A staunch supporter of the Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, businessman Mustafa Jaffar Sabodo, yesterday contributed Sh100 million to the opposition Chadema “to strengthen democracy in Tanzania”.
Mr Sabodo presented a cheque for the the donation to Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe, who was accompanied secretary-general Willibrod Slaa and the party’s director of finance, Mr Anthony Komu.
A press statement issued by Chadema yesterday in Dar es Salaam quoted Mr Sabodo as saying that although he was a cadre of the ruling CCM, he wanted liked see that a strong opposition and thriving democracy in the country.
The statement, signed by Chadema director of communications and publicity Erasto Tumbo, said Mr Sabodo termed Chadema as “a serious opposition party”.
The businessman has not hesitated to criticise the CCM government, particularly on good governance issues.
“I am a member of CCM, but I want to see a thriving democracy and growing opposition with a sizeable number of MPs in the National Assembly,” Mr Sabodo said.
Now, as Nathan Chiume pointed out to Zitto Kabwe earlier today on Twitter, while this may help transform the up coming general elections, giving CHADEMA a real opportunity to compete with CCM in close parliamentary seats across the country, it does nothing to curtail the big money influence in our political culture, a real problem in our still infant democracy.
Furthermore, why is a CCM supporter giving money to the opposition, presumably after giving money to CCM as well? Yes, I know that Mr. Sabodo says it’s because he wants to forster democracy etc, but the manner in which he went about it only works to re-inforce a pervasive idea permeating in the public imagination that the political elites are working hard to consolidate power and make sure it remains within an exclusive clique of self-perpetuating and self-serving individuals. A self-described CCM kadre giving considerable sums of money to another political family does nothing to counter-act that perception, if anything it adds fuel to that fire.
And then came the shenanigans of this weekend’s CCM national convention. We were forced to endure, live, on four different TV channels, the extraordinary sight of a former opposition presidential candidate, standing up at his rival’s national party convention and cheering him on, ‘Mrema atia fora mkutano wa CCM’ [Mrema steals the show during CCM’s conference] (Mtanzania Jumapili, 11th July 2010). Also, there attending the meeting was Civic United Front (CUF) Chairman Prof. Ibrahim Lipumba, cozily mingling with delegates. It should be noted that both Mr. Mrema and Mr. Lipumba are former CCM stalwarts, the former was a Home Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister during the Mwinyi administration, the latter was ‘Mzee Rukhsa’s’ Economic Adviser. So it’s no surprise that their presence there felt like a homecoming of sorts.
It does not end there. In Zanzibar, we are about to have a coalition government between CCM and CUF, no matter the outcome of the election, meaning that, essentially, the notion of an opposition party as we currently understand it, will cease to exist in the Isles.
My worry is, with this new-found entente-cordiale between the major political parties , who then is supposed to hold the government of the day accountable? What credibility amongst the electorate will the opposition have, now that it looks like money is flowing in both directions and from the same people?
It simply makes you go hmmmmmm.
UPDATE: Mr. Mustafa Jaffar Sabodo apparently has a wiki page. This is his entry:
Mustafa Jaffer Sabodo was born in Lindi, Tanzania to Muslim Gujarati Indian immigrants of the Khoja sect. He is an economist, consultant in international debt-finance, philanthropist and a businessman. He has business interests in India, France, Kenya, Sudan and Zimbabwe.
Last Sunday, he published an amendment of his will as an ear piece ad in the Sunday News, ‘Sabodo’s Will’ (Sunday News, 11th June 2010). It is also alleged that Mr. Sabado built the first private statue of Mwalimu Nyerere following the latter’s death and then mysteriously took it down from where it was erected – in the car park of the New World Cinemas. Who is this man that is funding our political parties and what are his motives?
(Photo: Chadema National Chairman Freeman Mbowe (second left), receiving a cheque worth TSh100 million from a Dar es Salaam businessman Mustafa Jaffar Sabodo. Looking on is Chadema Secretary General Dr Willibrod Slaa. By The Citizen)