Ex-police officer-turned MP was a colourful character

Friday January 24 2020

 

By Zephania Ubwani @TheCitizenTz news@tz.nationmedia.com

Arusha. He spoke like a spitting viper upon his appointment to the Home Affairs docket in July 2018.

The tough-talking Kangi Lugola vowed to address serious challenges facing the Fire and Rescue Department and the National Identification Authority (Nida).

Having been a career policeman, an MP since 2010 and a deputy minister for a few years, Lugola was not entirely new to the two institutions which became under his ministry.

He was upbeat on tackling the problems facing the Fire and Rescue Brigade whose mandate was extended from a mere ‘Fire Services’ Unit.

His other major focus was to be on Nida. Although the national IDs crisis hadn’t reached the present level then, crisis signs were already there.

So the burly free-talking Lugola entered President John Magufuli’s cabinet determined to ‘clean up’ the ministry he inherited from Mwigulu Nchemba and deliver on the expectations of his new boss. He swore allegiance only to the Union Constitution and the CCM manifesto, the two publications he would walk around with on duty. He also took to wearing buggy ‘Kaunda’ suits patched with national colours, always praising the man who put him in pole position in the cabinet. He was open to the media and in his first days in office, he hastened to put matters in order at the Home Affairs ministry, breathing fire and brimstone at officials who came late into his meetings.

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He also acted tough on dubious contracts entered into by agencies under him with contractors and suppliers. Soon enough, he expressed concerns over a contract for the supply of 777 police vehicles and uniforms procured from undisclosed sources.

Other issues on his agenda included tackling soaring road accidents, narcotic drugs, general crime and dishonest officials.

After a-year-and-a-half at the helm of the Home Affairs ministry, Mr Lugola could feel relieved that road fatalities had gone down somewhat.

But he would now regret burning his fingers by seeking to scale up Fire and Rescue Force operations.

News of his inglorious exit from the cabinet may have surprised some political observers, due to his vocal nature against corruption.

In fact, the MP for Mwibara in Mara Region had seemed to be among JPM’s closest lieutenants for the way he echoed the President’s chorus against graft and underperformance.

Not long after becoming minister, he ordered the arrest of the-then Nida director general for the alleged loss of billions in public funds. Lugola isn’t short of controversies from which he somehow emerged unscathed.

As an ordinary MP in 2016, he was alongside two other legislators - Saddique Murad (Mvomero) and Victor Mwambalaswa (Lupa), arraigned in a bribery case that attracted considerable media attention.

The trio - who were members of the Parliament’s Local Authorities Accounts Committee - were alleged to have solicited a Sh30 million bribe from the Mvomero District Council. However, the DPP just as soon dropped the case.

Sometime in 2017, Lugola was appointed deputy minister in the Vice President’s Office (Environment), a position he held until July 2018 when he landed the full cabinet post. It was at the VPO’s that his modus operandi started to scare others. He repeatedly threatened to close some industries and investment projects over pollution and lack of a clean bill of health from the relevant authorities.

Controversy aside, he exhibited a no-nonsense attitude to matters pertaining to national security, especially in how to deal with terrorism and alleged Jihadists from Mozambique. He did not lack a sense of homour, though! At one time, he nicknamed himself a ‘Ninja’ in Parliament when a backbencher touting the government while rooting for police reforms.

The unceremonious expulsion of Lugola as a cabinet minister yesterday dominated discussions in the social media and in small gatherings.

Initially, some people linked this with tardy registration for National IDs.

Arusha is where the police officer-turned-politician spent a significant number of his working years from around 2000 to 2010.

He was a ceremonial officer with the Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala). In the late 2010, he sought to contest the Mwibara Parliamentary constituency seat on the ruling CCM ticket - and won.

The 57-year old Kangi Lugola was born on May 25th, 1963, the day when the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was formed.