The spymaster who wants presidency

Thursday June 11 2015


By Atilo Tagalile

Dodoma. The latest twist in what is basically a political battle for nomination to become CCM flag bearer in the upcoming presidential contest, but which has thrills commonly associated with suspense movies, is the entry of Dr Hassy Kitine.

The economist, a retired senior army officer, an ex-director general of the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Services (TISS), and one-time Cabinet minister, announced his bid in Dodoma yesterday.

The event virtually represented re-emergence from oblivion into which he was cast in the wake of allegations of a scandal linked to his wife Saada Mkwawa, and to which he was connected by extension.

The senior citizen who was reportedly one of the closest confidants of founding president Mwalimu Nyerere, told the audience that, if he were elected president, he would pursue the leadership style of the deceased.

He said Mwalimu was one of his major mentors, the other being his grandmother, who had enrolled him in school.

Dr Kitine, one of the latest entrants in the race that has attracted over two dozen participants so far, maintained that he was a clean patriot.

He said allegations of financial wrong-doing attributed to him masked a dirty political game inspired by the perceived threat that he could succeed Third Phase president Benjamin Mkapa.

Dr Kitine was accused of defrauding the government of Sh60 million intended for footing medical bills for his wife in Canada in the 1990s, but which he had allegedly diverted to other purposes.

The alleged schemers were worried stiff, so the theory goes, because Dr Kitine was instrumental in head-hunting then foreign minister Mkapa as the most suitable successor to Mzee Ali Hassan Mwinyi in 2005.

Moreover, in what would pass for victory for his detractors, he resigned from his post as minister for Health during the Mkapa tenure.

The issue was allegedly leaked to the media and some legislators in order to tarnish his image and shatter whatever higher political ambitions he may have nursed.

Dr Kitine emphatically declared that, no president after Nyerere had equaled his record, and that, of the lot now seeking CCM blessings to contest the hot seat, he was the best.

He also urged members of the National Executive Committee (NEC), and the General Congress, not to reject money being dished out by some aspirants.

He remarked: “Take the money but don’t vote for them. After all it is the money they stolen from you when they were ministers and therefore it belongs to you.”

The Mkapa factor

According to well-placed sources, Mwalimu Nyerere, then in retirement but still influential in an advisory capacity, had asked Dr Kitine who, of CCM aspirants, was best placed to succeed Mwinyi as president on the CCM ticket.

Dr Kitine had just returned from Canada where he had spent over 15 years, studying and teaching. He recommended none, noting: “Almost all of them belong to different factions and have credibility problems, which is not good for whoever is seeking the Union presidency.”

And when Mwalimu asked him whom he thought was the right man for the job, Dr Kitine mentioned Ben Mkapa, who he said was free of intra-party frictions and didn’t have credibility problems. It came to pass that, Mwalimu was one of Mkapa’s staunchest campaigners and facilitated his victory in the the 1995 poll.

Not long thereafter, Dr Kitine became Makete MP after Tuntemeke Sanga’s death.

To-date, Dr Kitine, one time also holder of the powerful post of minister of State in the President Office (Security and Intelligence Services), strongly believes he would have been the legitimate successor to Mkapa.

Dr Kitine was one of the most educated soldiers in the TPDF and as a graduate in economics from the University of Dar es Salaam he was an instructor at the Arusha based Monduli Military Academy when Mwalimu Nyerere first came to know him.

It was thus not surprising that Mwalimu would later appoint the then 36-year-old Major Kitine as the youngest TISS director general in 1976.

Major Kitine rose through the military ranks and by the time he was leaving TISS as director general, he was a full TPDF colonel.

Attilio Tagalile is a journalist/author and media consultant and can be reached at