Friday, January 13, 2006
  Tanzania's New President
It's not often you hear good news about Muslim politicians, or for that matter good news coming out of Africa. So I was pleased to read about Tanzania's newly elected President, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete in the Nation:

"By winning the presidency with more than 9.1 million votes, Tanzania’sPresident-elect Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete is easily East Africa’s most popular leader. Mr Kikwete, popularly referred to as 'JK’ to his supporters, trounced other nine contenders capturing more than 80 per cent of the votes cast.:

In particular it was nice to read:

"But unknown to many, the newly-elected Tanzanian leader could have been president in 1995. At the end of Tanzania’s second president, Alhaji AliHassan Mwinyi’s reign, the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party held its primaries in which Mr Kikwete defeated the then Foreign Affairs ministerBenjamin Mkapa.However, Tanzania’s founding father Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and CCM bigwigsprevailed upon Mr Kikwete, then 45, to step down in favour of the58-year-old Mkapa."

A Muslim leader willingly stepping aside from power! Wow. I know that's cynical and there are plenty of Muslim leaders who step aside once their terms are over (Think Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, not to mention any Muslim politician in a non-Muslim state, etc, etc, etc) but so often we hear about kings or dictators or generals who seize power in military coups or even elected presidents who refuse to step aside at the end of their term.

I suppose it comes as no suprise that he is described as brilliant, likeable and tolerant.

"Mr Kikwete is a very simple, brilliant and likeable fellow who mixes with everybody," says Kenyan member of the East African Legislative Assembly(EALA), Mr Calist Mwatela. Mr Kikwete had been the Chairman of the East African Council of ministers and one of the longest serving ministers in the EAC organ."

and

"The affable political operator was always happy to share a joke with journalists after giving interviews when he served in different ministerial portfolios, including Finance and, Energy and Minerals.

Though a Muslim, Mr Kikwete is also popular with Christians."


Mr. Kiwete's plans for the next few years?

"Our focus will be economic growth. We shall have to ensure that there is no
slippage in macro-economic gains. Most of our people, 80 per cent of them,
are peasant farmers, fishermen and livestock keepers. Our challenge is how
to improve agriculture, fishing and livestock keeping. If there is more
productivity, more produce, then there is more income," says Mr Kikwete.

He believes that with improved farming, which employs 80 per cent of the
Tanzanian population, poverty can be alleviated significantly."

That seems to make sense, although, unfortunately, "To meet these goals, he banks on support from donors. Due to economic reforms and impressive debt payment record, Tanzania is one of Africa’s leading aid recipients."

I guess I better send my check in the mail.


For the whole story see:

Behind the jolly mask of East Africa's new favourite son

by EMEKA-MAYAKA GEKARA
The Nation, Nairobi

http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=39&ne
wsid=63722
 
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Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.


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