Dar es Salaam. The leadership wrangle bedevilling Tanzania’s second largest opposition party, the Civic United Front (CUF), has taken a new twist after it became known that the faction led by embattled national chairman, Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, has received government grant totalling Sh369 million.
The move has been described as illegal by the other faction, which is led by the party’s secretary general Seif Shariff Hamad.
The chairman of the CUF Supreme Governing Council (a body not recognised by Prof Libumba), Mr Julius Mtatiro, yesterday accused the office of the Registrar of Political Parties and Prof Lipumba of siphoning the funds from the Treasury.
The money was sent to Prof Lipumba’s faction last Thursday (January 5, 2017) despite the existence of a letter from the Registrar, Judge Francis Mutungi, that blocked CUF’s monthly subventions (the party is entitled to Sh117 million per month) to await an end to the leadership conflict.
According to Mr Mtatiro, Judge Mutungi wrote to both Prof Lipumba and Mr Hamad on October 10, 2016 telling them that, the funds cannot be released pending the solution to the leadership problem within the party. The grant was then sent to Prof Lipumba’s faction even as the leadership crisis remained, and in the absence of another letter revising the Registrar’s decision, Mr Mtatiro told reporters yesterday.
From the Treasury the cash, according to Mtatiro, was channelled to the party’s Temeke Branch NMB account instead of the party’s national account which is operated by the its chief accounting officer who, according to the CUF constitution, is the party secretary general, namely, Mr Hamad. The Temeke CUF branch leadership that operates the account and which is said to be loyal to Prof Lipumba, according to Mtatiro, recently changed its account signatories and took aboard Prof Lipumba’s top aides Magdalena Sakaya (deputy secretary general, Mainland) and Thomas Malima (finance director).
“It was the two who transacted the funds on Friday. First, they withdrew Sh69 million and pocketed it; then they transferred the remaining Sh300 million to a private account whose holder is the party’s Handeni Councillor Mhina Masoud Omary,” he said, adding: “Yesterday, (Monday) the money was withdrawn from Mhina’s account in two batches and was then taken to Prof Lipumba’s residence, which is typical case of money laundering.”
Reached for comment, the director of communication for Prof Lipumba’s camp Abdul Kambaya confirmed receiving the funds but said he was not obliged to respond to Mr Mtatiro since his position isn’t recognised by the party and the Registrar’s office.
“When the ongoing ward by-elections were announced by the National Electoral Commission, Mr Hamad’s camp said they were leaving all the positions to Chadema, but we couldn’t agree on that one, so we fielded 14 contestants. We needed the money for the exercise but we had none,” he said adding: “So we wrote to the Registrar to inform him about our situation and since he recognises Prof Lipumba as the legitimate chairman, the funds were released.”