Dar es Salaam. Former Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe said yesterday that it was high time people with high-level thinking to engage in discussions on the state of the country’s economy and why businesses are closing. He was challenging an opinion of the business tycoon Mr Rostam Aziz.
The former presidential aspirant in the 2015 general elections spoke in Dar es Salaam shortly after stepping out of the courtroom where he is claiming damages from a local media company for allegedly tarnishing his image.
Mr Membe was reacting to an opinion raised by Rostam Aziz in December last year, in which he claimed that Membe was among those planning to challenge President Magufuli in the coming 2020 elections. Membe stressed that discussing matters of politics amounted to trivializing issues of national importance.
Rostam spoke during an exclusive interview with Mwananchi Communications Limited last year in Dar es Salaam, where among other things, he challenged members of the ruling party CCM on presidential candidature.
Rostam was categorical that the sitting head of State must be left to proceed on the CCM ticket as the party traditions have been. He likened this to a football match where, there is a first half and the second half. “The sitting head of state should be left to finish off the second half in the next five-year term,’’
Rostam noted, “The CCM’s tradition is that the incumbent president remains unchallenged in seeking the second term of presidency….This is important for the stability of our party. When people come up to challenge this tradition they are messing up with our stability. I know Mr Membe and perhaps there are people I persuading him to contend. Well, I know him as an able-bodied person but I would rather advise him not to take part in this.”
It was for the first time that Membe was reacting on Rostam’s remarks after a journalist posed a question asking him to comment on claims that he was eyeing to contend in the 2020 presidential elections.
Membe said, “Rostam is a good economist. Let’s talk about issues to do with the economy. That would build good reputation. Instead of believing Rostam and I are children of step-parents,’’ he said.
“The state of the economy is what it is now, businesses are closing. People with high-level thinking should be discussing about such national matters and not trivial issues,’’ noted Mr Membe.
The former longserving cabinet minister was speaking shortly after attending a case at the Kisutu court in which he has suued Tanzanite Magazine publisher Cyprian Musiba for defamation. Membe claims Musiba has defamed him by making wild and unsubstantiated claims against him for which he wants the publisher to compensate him for Sh10 billion.
Msiba has variosuly published reports linking Mr Membe with an alleged plot to undermine President John Magufuli. The hearing of the case failed to continue yesterday as Musiba pleaded for more time to file more evidence.