By Simon Ndonga
Nairobi — The number of candidates who are seeking to contest for various seats independently is on the rise.
Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndung’u told Capital FM News the number has hit 1,500 so far.
The number has increased as political parties wind up their primaries.
Most have cited the spate of shambolic or unfair nominations across the country as the reason for the last minute decision to quit.
The disgruntled candidates rushed to the Registrar of Political Parties to effect the changes even as the nomination deadline was extended to Sunday.
To be cleared to run as an independent candidate, the aspirant is required to submit an application letter of request for clearance, a copy of their ID and a fee of Sh500.
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Apr 28 2017 | Posted in Kenya
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Photo: The Citizen
The former CUF chairman, Prof Ibrahim Lipumba (file photo).
CUF national chairman recognized by the Registrar of Political Parties, Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, has asked Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF) to take legal actions against people who invaded a press conference organised by party Kinondoni District leaders.
In a statement issued Friday, Prof Lipumba condemned the incident saying it should be treated like any other criminal offence.
In a letter he sent to TEF, Prof Lipumba condemned the act noting that those who interrupted the press conference and injured journalists should be made accountable.
Prof Lipumba said he has decided to issue the statement after TEF asked him to do so but noted that earlier he had directed party director for Information, Publicity and Communication, Mr Abdul Kambaya to do the same.
Several journalists were injured when thugs invaded a press conference at Vina Hotel in Mabibo last week in what is regarded as increasing rivalry between two factions within CUF.
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Apr 28 2017 | Posted in Tanzania
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analysisBy Yvonne Rowa Woods, University of Adelaide
Fledgling democracies in Africa tend to experience cyclical radical shifts between democratic booms and the doldrums. This suggests that the democratisation process in some parts of the continent is erratic.
However, there are elements of democracy even in authoritarian states. The reverse is also true – there are elements of authoritarianism in democratic states. Proof of this can be seen in the current democratic struggles in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Uganda and South Africa, just to mention a few.
Kenyans refer nostalgically to the gold standard that the 2002 polls set for successive elections. This period in the country’s history signalled a new political dispensation, paving the way for major reforms that culminated in the promulgation of a new constitution in 2010.
A poll conducted by Gallup International in 2003 ranked Kenyans as the most optimistic people in the world. But this euphoria was short lived.
In 2008, Kenya rolled back its democratic gains when parts of the country descended into chaos following contested election results. Over 1 000 people died and more than half a million were displaced. In the 2013 elections the government successfully contained an impending political crisis even though the elections were marred by electoral malpractices.
The opposition claimed that in both 2007 and 2013, the election results didn’t reflect the will of the people, a situation that’s since left the country sharply polarised.
Another chance for change
Fifteen years post-2002, Kenya is on the cusp of yet another democratic revival ahead of the upcoming August 2017 elections.
Voters have a crucial role to play in the electoral process by ensuring that the leaders they elect are committed to the values of good governance. If these ideals have been compromised, the process should empower voters to elect different leaders. But voting patterns in Kenya have demonstrated this is often not the case.
Kenyan voters are aware of their central role in the electoral process and yet they tend to limit their choices within the spectrum of tribalism, kleptocracy and personality cultism.
Tribalism props up kleptocracy particularly when citizens claim that their communities are being victimised when their political kin are implicated in graft. Ethnic loyalties to tainted populists undermine the fight against corruption and ensure the survival of corrupt politicians.
While Kenyans have been willing to welcome change at the grassroots by rejecting some preferred party nominees at the ballot box, voters seem to have settled into a comfort zone that has in turn created a governance gap.
As a result, leaders have been able to re-engineer their political DNA to gain re-election by gullible voters. This has, in turn, led to politicians’ impressive capacity to revive their political careers.
The incumbent Jubilee government score card reports a mixed bag of results. There is a raft of significant achievements that President Uhuru Kenyatta outlined in his final state of the nation address, but these achievements notwithstanding, Kenya is in limbo with many promises unfulfilled including the creation of one million jobs for the youth and the realisation of universal health care.
A section of Kenyans blame politicians for this state of affairs. Others argue that the electorate must urgently move beyond ethnocentrism and engage with issues in their quest for the right leadership.
Surprisingly, the high level of political consciousness and vibrant civic engagement belies the fact that Kenyans continue to recycle the same brand of politicians. Even so, as the August 8th general election approaches, Kenyans feel that both the government and opposition offer little by way of rattling the status quo.
Kenyans are cynical about the lack of suitable candidates on both sides of the political divide as well as the risk that electoral irregularities may favour a predetermined winner.
Yet on election day, there’s a high likelihood they will once again defy logic and demonstrate the uncanny ability to turn out in droves to vote along ethnic lines. Admittedly, the dominance of select political parties can limit choice and impede democratic progress.
Are Kenyans ready to break with tradition?
All things considered, is there a possibility that Kenyans could be galvanised to cast their votes for a little known political lightweight? Possibly, but some of these political unknowns can come across as elitist, bland and anti-tribal establishment. They therefore have little appeal to most Kenyans.
Kenyans need a leader with chemistry, someone who can dance with the people, but also be in tune with their aspirations. But some of the less influential leaders abandon their supporters when they fail.
In this scenario, ethnic dynamics cut both ways. Leaders who embrace patriotic ideals are held hostage by tribal voters and compelled to abandon not only their non-tribal political base, but the principles they uphold as well. This unpredictability pushes both leaders and voters back to the safety of traditional, ethnocentric voting patterns.
In reality, even at this momentous crossroads, the prediction of a win for the usual suspects in either government or the main opposition is not far off.
The Kenyan experience demonstrates that the electoral process can be disruptive to democratic progress. As an instrument for legitimising governance, elections have at times presented Kenya with moments of democratic breakthroughs, which have been short lived.
While there are multiple structural factors responsible for the current democratic slump, blaming politicians will not fix the politics. There needs to be a shift in mindset. Kenyans need to resist the allure and comfort of prevailing political norms.
Perhaps interrogating and re-calibrating basic individual democratic values will help reclaim the 2002 gold standard and put Kenya back on track. Until that happens, Kenyans and the politicians they elect will continue to be strange bedfellows.
Yvonne Rowa Woods does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.
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Apr 27 2017 | Posted in Kenya
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BlogBy John Walubengo
The ongoing primaries in both opposition and ruling parties have left a lot to be desired.
Candidates, voters, organisers and the political leadership are all blaming each other for what is simply an exercise that should have been well executed – had technology been allowed to play its role.
The opposition party ride on the excuse that they lack resources to spend on technology but the ruling party would find it hard to explain why they never deployed technology in their primaries.
Indeed Jubilee party had started off well by announcing their now widely-publicised ‘smart-card’ solution for registering party members and subsequently for validating the voters during the primaries.
Along the way, this plan to use technology was abandoned to give way to what politicians thrive on – manual operations – with their inherent problems.
That means simple questions, like who should vote in the primaries, suddenly become impossible to answer since political parties find themselves in the same situation they repeatedly accuse IEBC of – having multiple registers without knowing which one is comprehensive and complete.
Whereas the Registrar of Political Parties may have lists of who belongs to which party submitted by the parties themselves, very few parties believe in their own submissions.
Most political party registers were submitted to meet legal requirements rather than provide for a comprehensive list of bona-fide party members, meaning that whatever list was submitted might not be have been too useful in party primaries.
This is why many citizens were surprised to find that they belonged to parties they never imagined existed when they logged onto the registrar of political parties confirmation site.
It has since been shut down to either sort out the lists or as a way of managing the complaints, but that is a story for another day.
For now, it is clear the political parties do not know whether to use the 2013 Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) register, the 2016 IEBC register, their legal but incomplete political party register or a mixture of all the above to validate who should be taking part in their party primaries.
That is sad, given that technology to invite, validate and register party members through mobile, web or physical means is widely available and well established.
Why then would political parties not embrace such technologies? Could it be that this technology would shine a sharp transparent light on the electoral process and drastically reduce the opportunities party leadership exploits in selecting, rather than electing, their preferred candidates?
Put differently, is the opaqueness and the fluid nature of party membership lists deliberate in order to provide the necessary fertile ground for voter manipulation and rigging?
Lack of a substantive voter or party register accords any one with sufficient resources to proceed to publish their own ‘local’ versions of party lists, ballot papers, party agents amongst others – given that that no one has the single source of truth about all these electoral items.
Additionally, there is no reliable mechanisms to independently verify or crosscheck who voted or who did not, given that voter identification mechanisms that rely only on national IDs or party IDs is not sufficient to address the notorious ballot-stuffing ‘attack’.
The probability of ghosts waking up to vote in Busia or in Kirinyaga becomes real in such circumstances, made possible by manual processes, and this after Kriegler and several other reports repeatedly informed us that it is very difficult to know who wins elections in the absence of electronic tools that can provide verification mechanisms through reliable audit trails.
Political parties have, therefore, failed the technology test within their primaries and now lack the moral authority to insist that IEBC use technology to deliver a credible general election this August.
In any case, IEBC already has an escape route from having to use technology, by virtue of the amendment clause of the Elections 2016 Act which allows them to use some yet to be defined ‘complimentary system’ to replace technology in the event of failure.
It is scary but we can say that the use, or better still, lack of technology in the primaries maybe a prelude of what the country should expect come the August 8 general election. Is it possible to make technology use mandatory for the political class?
Having technology in our legal statutes is a start, but was obviously not sufficient, given that laws can be changed at the whim of the same political class.
The best way is for voters to reward parties that show increased transparency through technology, while punishing those that do not.
If you feel your party candidate was a product of a flawed, manual process, you will still have a chance in August to vote for the candidate of you choice -if they presented themselves as independent candidates.
Eventually, political parties will get the message that transparency, powered by technology in the electoral process pays, while opaqueness powered by manual processes is expensive and futile.
Mr Walubengo is a lecturer at the Multimedia University of Kenya, Faculty of Computing and IT.
Apr 26 2017 | Posted in Kenya
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Time and again, we have spoken against political violence that takes place in the country now and then. Now what happened during a press conference called by the Civic United Front (CUF) faction allied to secretary general Seif Shariff Hamad on Saturday in Dar es Salaam, is a matter of serious concern.
Violence reared its ugly head again. Chaos broke out and the planned press conference was disrupted by goons allegedly hired by a rival faction within the Opposition party.
Many people, including journalists, were attacked during the ugly incident which left several people injured.
This is just how destructive violence can be and the only people who can stop it from metamorphosing into permanent feature our competitive politics are political leaders.
It doesn’t matter who instigated who and who reacted how; the issue is, as long as this kind of political behaviour goes unchecked, we are headed for serious trouble as a country.
We have to learn lessons from other countries that have seen political violence decimate communities and bring deep rooted divisions.
As a media, we join other voices in advocating peace in this country since we understand the negative consequences of such ugly acts.
Tanzanians should be made to understand that political violence has contributed immensely in making Africa the most conflict-ridden region in the world.
Rwanda for one is a country that has experienced violence of the worst kind with humans killing fellow humans.
Those who survived the genocide in Rwanda will tell you that the core issues behind the senseless killing of close to a million people was more political than ethnicity.
To those bent to violence, we say: remember that Tanzania belongs to us all and so, every Tanzanian is free to move or go anywhere.
We should refrain from allowing senseless acts of violence creep in; we need to ensure Tanzania doesn’t descend into chaos.
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Apr 26 2017 | Posted in Tanzania
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Kenyan political parties have reportedly been given a five-day extension to nominate their candidates for the upcoming general elections in August, after a successful court ruling.
According to BBC, the primaries must now be held by May 1, after a successful court challenge to extend the April 26 deadline.
During the court challenge, the east African country’s political parties argued that the April 26 deadlines would deny party members the right to choose their candidates for elections.
In many constituencies across the east African nation, the preliminary votes were delayed, with some of the contestant claiming irregularities.
President Uhuru Kenyatta admitted to reporters that not enough election materials had been provided.
This comes just two days after the country’s electoral body had said that it would not extend the deadline, despite calls from the political parties to do so.
According to Standard Digital, during a meeting with the various political parties that would be contesting the August 8 elections, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission said that the parties must have completed their primaries on Tuesday, April 26.
The IECB said that the parties had just three days to complete their primaries.
The request for extension follows a series of anomalies that have resulted to cancellation of results and postponement of the nomination exercise in various centres.
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Apr 25 2017 | Posted in Kenya
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By Khalifa Said
Dar es Salaam — The Registrar of Political Parties, Mr Francis Mutungi, yesterday asked security agencies to act after a news conference called by CUF was violently disrupted last weekend.
He said the perpetrators should be identified, arrested and made to face the full force of the law.
Masked men stormed Saturday’s press conference at a hotel in Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam, and several people, including journalists, were attacked and injured.
The incident has raised concern that acts of violence were now becoming synonymous with CUF. Mr Mutungi was yesterday the latest high-profile figure to add his voice to the chorus of condemnation.
“I strongly condemn the senseless violence, which threatened peace and security and left innocent people injured,” he said in a statement.
Mr Mutungi added that his office and the Police Force were there to handle any complaint about the running and activities of political parties, adding that there was no need for CUF members to turn to violence in flagrant disregard of the law.
“I would also like to remind political parties that they are not above the law. They are supposed to respect and obey the country’s laws for the sake of preserving our peace and security,” Mr Mutungi said.
CUF secretary-general Seif Shariff Hamad also strongly condemned the storming of Saturday’s press conference by “hired criminals”.
He apologised to the Tanzania Editors Forum and journalists in general for what happened.
Mr Hamad asked the Police Force to arrest and those behind the pandemonium and swiftly bring them to justice, saying the incident had caused fear and anxiety among the public.
Meanwhile, CUF interim chairman Julius Mtatiro wrote on his Facebook page that they met with Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone Commander Simon Sirro and handed over to him evidence of all “criminal” acts committed against the party since August, last year, adding that the perpetrators were being protected.
“We also discussed in detail Saturday’s invasion and demanded that appropriate measures be taken immediately,” said Mr Mtatiro.
Mr Sirro said in a press briefing later yesterday that three people had been arrested in connection with Saturday’s incident.
“No group is allowed attack other people…if a person feels they are aggrieved, they are supposed to seek legal redress. People suspected of habouring criminal intent should be reported at the nearest police station. People must not take the law into their own hands. Nobody is above the law,” he said.
CUF has in recent months been embroiled in a protracted conflict which has split the party into two factions supporting Seif and chairman Ibrahim Lipumba.
Despite being expelled from the party by the Hamad faction, Prof Lipumba insists that he is still chairman.
Mr Mutungi said last year that he still recognised Prof Lipumba as CUF’s bona fide chairman, prompting Mr Hamad to accuse the registrar of fanning conflict within the party.
Apr 25 2017 | Posted in Tanzania
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opinionBy Isabella Bwiire
From the foregoing, it can be seen that the road to free and stable Uganda is still thorny.
The conditions for ensuring a stable and sustainable peace have to be tackled primarily at the economic level. But for this to happen, state officials, including ministers and parliamentarians, must be accountable to the people and be subject to their power. This is the only way corruption and graft, which have resulted in billions of dollars, which should have gone to social economic development, being stolen over the last 15 years, can be checked.
Militarism, which dominated the thinking in the ruling party, has ensured that large amounts of state funds from the national budget are allocated to the army. At one time this was estimated to be as high as 60 per cent of the total budget.
If insecurity has in part to be traced to poverty and lack of economic and social development, then the dominance of the armed forces in the political economy of the country has to be seen as a factor contributing to the future instability of the country. It has to be seen as a factor contributing to the future instability of the country, which will result from further impoverishment of the people.
The mere fact that the top officials in the army have the possibilities of accumulating wealth through corruption, which they use to build mansions for themselves, denies the people not only the means of development , but also ensure that the army has a vested interest in maintaining themselves in power.
An oppressive state whose economic and social structures are riddled with high-level corruption generating widespread poverty can only result in the political disempowerment of the affected population.
Today, the outcry throughout the country is against the widening and deepening poverty in which the poor can survive by partly disenfranchising themselves through “selling ” their voting rights to elect people who will not represent them but will instead join the corruption bridges to recover what they “lost” to the people during their electioneering.
Such impoverished and disenfranchised people cannot have ‘sovereignty “power and control over state institutions.
To the contrary, they become victims of the very institutions which they created. They are thus disempowered and further impoverished in the process.
Such a population cannot enjoy “positive peace”, they can only become victims of negative peace” which is a form of war whose real purpose is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standards of living of the people.
Therefore, they find themselves in this kind of perpetual warfare to maintain peace and being disempowered in the process, people in the Ugandan situation resorted to finding another form of positive peace through socio cultural actions.
This include some restoration of self respect and human dignity through cultural identity, restore some kind of morality in general human relations by returning to the “roots” of things as a way of finding “inner peace”.
In the modern world, which is crumbling because of these contradictions, this socio-cultural peace can only be transitory.
It is a temporary resort but which in itself has no prospect of sustaining individuals on any long-term basis. It has to interpret the reality around it more carefully because some of this reality tends to contradict the socio cultural identity which is desired.
It has to find a new synthesis with these contradictory forces which exist beside it. On the basis of this reconciliation, some kind of future sustainable peace and stability can be found in a new world.
In a nut shell, for democratisation to be achieved, people should have some influence over government policies. But I cannot see how this can be achieved in the short- or even medium-term given the present political and prevailing socio-economic situation in Uganda.
Ms Bwiire works with the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI).
Apr 25 2017 | Posted in Uganda
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By Maureen Kakah
The controversy surrounding Migori Governor Okoth Obado’s validity as a member of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party was yesterday shoved aside after the Political Disputes Tribunal dismissed the case challenging the issue.
A five-member tribunal ruled that the complainant in the case, George Odede, had not exhausted internal party mechanisms in an attempt to solve the dispute.
Consequently, the tribunal upheld arguments by ODM defending Mr Obado.
ODM had also told the tribunal that it lacked the jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter as required by law, an argument which the tribunal agreed with in their verdict.
“The preliminary objection is hereby sustained, the complainant ought to have invoked internal mechanism before approaching this tribunal, the case was therefore premature and is therefore dismissed,” they ruled.
Mr Odede, an ODM member, had moved to the tribunal in March to protest that the Governor did not formally give his former party a notice of defection before ODM.
Through lawyer Chrispin Odhiambo, he had faulted Mr Obado of violating the Political Parties Act for failing to formally give a notice of defection from the party in which he was elected on, the People’s Democratic Party, as Governor.
He had also argued that ODM might continue to have him participate in their party activities including the party nominations now set for Monday in preparations for the August 8 elections contrary to the Political parties Act, Elections Act and the Constitution.
But through lawyer Samuel Makori, ODM trashed the allegations levelled against Mr Obado as merely speculative saying that he had not violated any law by defecting in addition to the argument on jurisdiction.
ODM had also insisted that it will take into consideration vetting him if he aspires to contest as its candidate and that he had satisfactorily met all conditions set out as well as relevant national legislation before joining them.
Following the verdict, Mr Obado was granted reprieve and may continue to act as an ODM member even as he is set to battle to retain his seat on the party’s ticket with former Cabinet minister Ochillo Ayacko, Nyatike MP Edick Anyanga’s wife Anne and Mr Paul Odola.
Mr Odede had wanted the tribunal to declare him not a member of ODM, that his continued association with it is illegal and that his seat be declared vacant if he indeed resigned from PDP.
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Apr 21 2017 | Posted in Kenya
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Photo: Daily News
President John Magufuli.
columnBy Prof Zulfiqarali Premji
I have in my writings pointed a couple of times the importance of teamwork in order to succeed. Lately some disturbing events have taken place that show there is lack of teamwork in the current government.
First the owner of Dangote cement had to fly in and see President Magufuli in person to sort out the pending problems in the cement factory in Mtwara and secondly Swahaba Shosi, a widow from Tanga seeking justice in a public place by raising a placard that caught Presidents attention.
The logical question is what is the root cause of this, why did this situations have to reach the President for solutions, is this the standard procedure?
Previously I wrote that some of us still believe in Ujamaa and the Arusha Declaration but these did not achieve the goals because those surrounding Mwalimu had their own suspicions and were not supportive. Internet is full of documents why President Magufuli is the most popular not only in the region but in Africa and globally.
From one site I was able to download eight reasons why he has been so successful:
1. He came from humble beginnings
2. He’s shown integrity
3. He campaigned for the presidency on a platform of hard work
4. He’s been keeping his promises
5. He’s been leading by example
6. He’s been channelling Tanzania’s monetary sources to more important ventures
7. He made education free for children
8. He keeps civil workers on their toes, so they don’t mess up
But the problems are so many and so huge that on a solo basis he will not be able to resolve and he may not succeed. The two events amplify that his chosen and selected team is not helping him. Why should the investors problems reach the President-where was the minister and high officials within the ministry of trade and the ministry of energy, why were they not able to resolve the problems the plant was facing and why was it resolved in one meeting with the President maybe lasting an hour or so? These are pertinent questions and similarly why the minister of justice, head of policy not able to solve the problem of the widow. These are deep and serious problems – inertia on the part of civil service workers, corruption, dishonesty, lack of accountability and more seriously not being in line with the policies and functionaries of the President.
For any successful leader teamwork is absolutely a prerequisite and essential. Melodious music only comes out when the orchestra plays the instruments in harmony otherwise what comes out is bad music. The top five characteristics of some of the world’s most successful political leaders include:
Honesty: Being honest can sometimes be difficult because it makes individuals vulnerable. It reveals who we really are and discloses our mistakes, which gives others the opportunity to criticise or reject openly. Honesty develops character and builds credibility and trust, which are the foundation to evoke confidence and respect from those around you, and in the case of political leaders, teammates and constituents.
Compassion: Compassion is the humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something to alleviate that suffering. While many see compassion as a weakness, true compassion is a characteristic that converts knowledge to wisdom. Good political leaders use compassion to see the needs of those he or she leads and to determine the course of action that would be of greatest benefit to all those involved.
Integrity: The word integrity is defined as ‘the adherence to moral and ethical principles; the soundness of moral character.’ It is a synonym for honesty and uprightness, and is a vital characteristic for those in political leadership. Political leaders who possess integrity can be trusted because he or she never veers from inner values, even when it might benefit them to do so. A leader must have the trust of followers. This requires the highest standard of integrity.
Confidence: Having confidence in a political leader is about having faith or belief that he or she will act in a right, proper, or effective way. A good political leader needs to be both confident in himself or herself as well in their ability to lead. Leaders who possess this quality inspire others, drawing on a level of trust, which sparks the motivation to get others on board and get the job done.
Flexibility: Flexibility for a political leader is about understanding the give-and-take aspects of politics, and the ability to find the common ground. Good politicians listen carefully to all sides, to not only hear their arguments but to especially learn what it will take on behalf of all parties involved to reach a consensus. This characteristic allows political leaders to recognise setbacks and criticism, to learn from them and move forward.
Great political leaders have all of these qualities and more. Each aspires to respect different views, analyse problems, and identify the best solutions – not based on loyalty to political party, but rather based on what is good and right and in the best interest of the nation as a whole.
Mr President we sincerely want you to succeed and you are the hope of millions in Tanzania and Africa. Please ensure that you have the right team with you.
Zulfiqarali Premji is a retired Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (Muhas) professor Currently living in Canada
Apr 21 2017 | Posted in Tanzania
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