Dar es Salaam. Zanzibar’s Second Vice President Seif Ali Idd yesterday became the first high profile leader in government to publicly declare his support for a presidential hopeful when he threw his weight behind the minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Bernard Membe (pictured).
Ambassadors representing Tanzania in various countries have also endorsed Mr Membe’s presidential bid. Addressing Tanzania’s envoys in Dar es Salaam at the end of a three-day meeting, Mr Idd wished Mr Membe a safe journey to State House. Deviating from a speech he read on behalf of the President of Zanzibar, Dr Ali Mohammed Shein, he said: “I wish you well and I want to categorically state that I will be with you on your journey...I am sure it will be peaceful and successful.”
Envoys representing different countries convened in Dar es Salaam for their fourth annual meeting which ended yesterday.
Mr Idd, who was Mr Membe’s deputy at one point, could not hide his feelings about Mr Membe, who was also present to bid farewell to the ambassadors.
Other presidential aspirants have received the backing of common people and politicians but this was the first endorsement of a presidential hopeful by top leaders.
Mr Membe told the ambassadors he did not expect to be in Parliament after the next General Election. “This is my last time in this ministry and I hope we will meet again, God willing,” he said. “I will not be in the next Parliament as an MP or minister but maybe I will be in that House with another title.”
Though he did not categorically say he hoped to succeed President Jakaya Kikwete, Mr Membe said last week on national television that he was aiming for a higher office in the near future. He intends to declare his interest in Mtama, his home village in Lindi Region. A few days ago, he said goodbye to employees of his ministry and told them he would not be in the next Cabinet.
At yesterday’s meeting, Dean of Tanzania Ambassadors John Kijazi said the diplomats supported Mr Membe’s presidential ambitions. “We wish you well in your new political endeavours,” Mr Kijazi said. “You have opened the doors because there are many ambassadors who want to vie for various seats in the next General Election.”
Meanwhile, the number of CCM cadres who want to succeed President Kikwete has just grown, with Mr Charles Makongoro Nyerere—son of Tanzania’s first President, declaring that he was set to officially launch his bid for the top job in the land.
In a press statement yesterday, Mr Nyerere said he would declare his interest at a short ceremony in his home village of Mwitongo in Butiama District, Mara Region. His announcement ends months of speculation as to whether he is interested in the presidency. His name has often come up in the list of possible candidates.
Mr Nyerere, a member of the East African Legislative Assembly since 2012, told religious leaders in Mbeya on Wednesday that he believed it was time for him to lead Tanzanians at a higher level. “I’m ready to ask Tanzanians for that,” he said. “I’m capable of serving.” He joined the opposition NCCR–Mageuzi in 1995 and won the Arusha Urban seat in the General Election but lost to Mr Felix Mrema following a court ruling in 1997.
In 2000, he joined CCM and President Benjamin Mkapa nominated him an MP in February 2004. From 2007 to 2012, he served as the party’s regional chairman in Mara Region.
Outside politics, Mr Nyerere is a veteran of the Uganda-Tanzania war. In 1982, he graduated from the Tanzania Military Academy in Monduli and retired from the Army in 1990 with the rank of lieutenant. Between 2001 and 2003, he studied for a degree in strategic studies at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
Mr Nyerere will make his announcement two days after another party cadre and former Prime Minister, Mr Edward Lowassa, who is expected to set the ball rolling the same Sunday in Arusha.
There are six other CCM members who have declared an interest in vying for the party’s presidential ticket. They are Mr Bernard Membe, Tourism and Natural Resources Minister Lazaro Nyalandu, Deputy Minister for Communication, Science and Technology January Makamba, Deputy Minister for Finance Mwigulu Nchemba, Minister Without Portfolio Mark Mwandosya and former Energy Minister Sospeter Muhongo. The sole female aspirant so far, Ambassador Amina Salum Ali, is the African Union’s permanent representative in the United States.