Campaign finance in Tanzania: Is anyone following the money?

The money trail

The money trail (image taken from

Peter Nyanje, with a “polite reminder” in The Citizen:

There is a need to give 2015 General Election countdown more space in our debates because, as we speak, many of those who harbour the desire to become Tanzanian leaders, including the top most posts, the presidency, have already begun the race.

Many people have started to receive numerous forms of donations, gifts and assistance in various forms and little do they know that they are being slowly bought into certain election camps. This is very dangerous.

There should be a mechanism of safeguarding people from these candidates with a lot of funds. If we allow these funds to influence the decision makers – the voters – we will not have credible leaders in 2015.

On the same day, Rugumye on Jamii Forums:

[Former Prime Minister] Edward Lowassa has, up to now, already spent over three billion shillings on contributions to various groups, churches and mosques. A few days ago he announced that these are contributions made by his friends; if his friends are contributing to his cause what are their objectives for doing so? … We would like to know who these friends are.

If Lowassa has used his own money or that of his friends at this time, how much will he use during the elections? It’s an embarrassment  for our various faith leaders to sell their hunger in order to launder Lowassa like this, and thus to help him run for the Presidency in 2015. *

Mtanzania 31/7/2013

Mtanzania 31/7/2013

And finally, from Mtanzania’s front page lead: “Sitta injured”:

Minister [of East African Cooperation, Samwel] Sitta found himself in a difficult situation, after he was left isolated by his political allies, … who failed to turn up at a rally to raise funds for Ilumya Catholic Church in Busega district, Mwanza region.

At the rally, at which Sitta was the guest of honour, he had aimed to raise 217m/-, which he failed to deliver. He found himself able to raise 9.3m/-, including his own personal contribution of 3m/-. **

There are good reasons to question some of the details in the articles quoted above. It is inadvisable to trust everything you read on Jamii Forums, it being a largely un-moderated citizen-media platform. And Mtanzania newspaper is owned by Lowassa’s long-time ally Rostam Aziz, and has a record of attacking Lowassa’s political competitors.

But there seems to be no doubt about the general conclusion of these three articles: those with a serious intention to become the next Tanzanian President in 2015 are already hard at work. In the US, efforts are already underway to mobilise campaign finance for Hilary Clinton for 2016. In Tanzania, it works differently – politicians are not raising funds for their campaigns, but rather building a political base by spraying their money around. Or their friends’ money. Or trying to.

Which brings me to a question: is anyone monitoring this? Is anyone following the money, keeping track of how much is being spent, and checking that it is all being done in accordance with the law?

TCD? LHRC? HakiElimuTwawezaREPOA? A media house? Election observer missions?

It seems like a major part of the democratic process, but one that I fear is not getting the attention it deserves.

Nyanje, in the first passage above, perhaps inadvertently suggests one reason why that might be the case. His “polite reminder” mentions no names and gives no specifics – the cautious strategy of someone who doesn’t want to make enemies. Or to put it another way – there are powerful people around who would prefer that nobody followed the money. What better evidence do you need that this is an issue that matters?

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The original Swahili versions of the passages quoted above:

* From Jamii Forums:

Mheshimiwa Edward Lowasa mpaka sasa ameshatumia zaidi ya bilioni 3 kuchangia vikundi, makanisa na misikiti mbalimbali, Japo juzi alitangaza kuwa ni michango ya marafiki zake, bilioni 3 fedha za mtanzania ni pesa nyingi sana, kama ni marafiki zake wanamchangia wana malengo gani na LOWASA, mimi sijawahi kusikia LOWASA FOUNDATION. Tungependa kujua hao marafiki zake ni akina nani?

Kama kwa sasa LOWASA ametumia pesa zake za mfukoni au za marafiki zake wakati huu je, wakati wa uchaguzi atatumia kiasi gani? Ni aibu kwa viongozi wetu wa madhehebu mbalimbali kuendekeza njaa zao kwa kumsafisha LOWASA hivyo kusaidia agombee urais 2015.

** From Mtanzania

Waziri Sitta pia amejikuta katika wakati mgumu, baada ya kuachwa mpweke na maswahiba wake wa kisiasa, … ambao walishindwa kutokea katika harambee ya kuchangia ujenzi wa Kanisa Katoliki la Parokia ya Ilumya iliyopo wilayani Busega, mkoani Mwanza.

Katika harambee hiyo ambayo, Sitta alikuwa mgeni rasmi, alikusudiwa kuchangisha kiasi cha shilingi milioni 217, jambo ambalo alishindwa kulitimiza na kujikuta akifanikiwa kuchangisha fedha tasilimu pamoja na ahadi shilingi milioni 9.3 huku yeye binafsi akichangia shilingi milioni tatu.

2 thoughts on “Campaign finance in Tanzania: Is anyone following the money?

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