Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Burial bridges the political divide

Retired President Jakaya Kikwete greets former

Retired President Jakaya Kikwete greets former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa at the burial of veteran politician Kingunge Ngombale-Mwiru in Dar es Salaam yesterday. Centre is Civic United Front secretary-general Seif Shariff Hamad. PHOTO | SAID KHAMIS 

By Louis Kolumbia lkolumbia@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. For all practical purposes, the burial ceremony of the late veteran politician Kingunge Ngombale-Mwiru in Dar es Salaam yesterday united the nation.

The event at the Kinondoni cemetery was attended by luminaries who included government ministers and other leaders, as well as prominent politicians – regardless of their political, religious or other affiliations.

The burial, which took place after Dar es Salaam residents paid their last respects to the departed politician at the Karimjee grounds, brought together Tanzanians of different social standing. This is a rare development to have been seen in recent times when the country is going through exacerbating political rivalries.

But yesterday, dozens of government ministers and other officials – past and present – as well as politicians of all hues and private sector moguls attended the burial.

The ceremony was led by President John Magufuli in the company of retired presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete.

Others in attendance were Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan, former Vice President Mohammed Gharib Bilal and former prime ministers Joseph Warioba, Salim Ahmed Salim, Frederick Sumaye and Edward Lowassa.

The list also included former first ladies Maria Nyerere and Anna Mkapa.

Other dignitaries included CCM vice chairman (Mainland) Phillip Mangula, Chadema national chairman Freeman Mbowe and Prof Ibrahim Lipumba and Mr Seif Shariff Hamad, who lead opposing factions within the Civic United Front.

The list also included former Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman, Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation executive director Joseph Butiku and former National Electoral Commission chairman Damian Lubuva.

This is not to forget the Minister of State in the President’s Office responsible for Regional Administration and Local Government Seleman Jafo, lawmakers Nape Nnauye and Peter Serukamba; Dar es Salaam Mayor Isaya Mwita and CCM publicity and ideology secretary Humphrey Polepole.

Signs could be seen from the beginning that something positive would come out of the burial. That was when both the ruling party CCM and leading opposition party Chadema announced the suspension of their by-election campaigns in the Kinondoni Constituency in honour of the burial.

While CCM made its announcement through its Dar es Salaam regional political and publicity secretary, Mr Simon Mwakifwamba, Chadema did so through its national chairman, Mr Mbowe.

Reading the late Ngombale-Mwiru’s biography, Mr Ally Mchumo said he was born on May 30, 1932 in Kilwa District, Lindi Region, but grew up in Dar es Salaam.

He said Ngombale-Mwiru attended several domestic and foreign colleges before he began working with the Tanganyika African National Union.

In 2015, the late Ngombale-Mwiru quit CCM in protest against the procedures used in picking the party’s presidential candidate for the October 2015 General Election.

Speaking during the ceremony, Mr Ally Mtope, identified as Ngombale-Mwiru’s close friend, said the two grew up together, and that he was the one who was chosen, together with Retired President Jakaya Kikwete, to break the sad news to the deceased of the death of his wife a few weeks ago.

That was when Ngombale-Mwiru was admitted at Muhimbili National Hospital, where he was receiving treatment after he was savagely attacked by his own dogs at home weeks earlier.