Kikwete reveals how he plotted 2005 presidential victory with Lowassa

What you need to know:

  • Speaking at the home of the former PM who passed away on Saturday, Mr Kikwete said he and Mr Lowassa had been close political allies since their youth

Arusha. Retired President Jakaya Kikwete on Monday, February 12, 2024 revealed how he and the late Edward Lowassa crafted their victory in the 2005 polls.

The former head of state said that even after Lowassa's fallout over the Richmond scandal in 2008, they remained together "in every possible way.".

Speaking at the home of the former PM who passed away on Saturday, Mr Kikwete said he and Mr Lowassa had been close political allies since their youth.

Retired President Jakaya Kikwete signs a book of condolences for Edward Lowassa at his Masaki home in Dar es Salaam on Monday, February 12, 2024. The former Prime Minister died on Saturday. PHOTO/SUNDAY GEORGE

Their political partnership was concretized after they unsuccessfully vied in the CCM presidential nomination process in 1995.

"For the 2005 elections, we had a strong team, which ensured our victory," he told journalists after visiting the bereaved family.

Mr Kikwete won the 2005 presidential elections in a landslide, succeeding President Benjamin Mkapa.

After taking over as Head of State, JK, as he is fondly known, appointed Mr Lowassa his prime minister in December 2005.

Mr Lowassa could not last long in the post, as he was forced to resign on February 8, 2008, over the Richmond scandal.

He described the fallout as "one of those challenges in politics" but affirmed that he and Mr Lowassa continued to work together.

"The challenges that the late Lowassa faced leading to his resignation did not erase the good things that he did for the nation," he stated.

The Mr Kikwete said that his friendship with the late PM dates back to days when they both worked with the CCM youth wing (UVCCM) and the government.

"I was the first to serve in the party (CCM), and later, he joined me," he said.

Mr Kikwete said he later joined the army at a time when his political ally had become an MP under the UVCCM ticket.

Mr Kikwete’s entourage of 12 people snaked around the compound of Mr Lowassa's home around 2 pm on Monday, February 12, 2024.

As scores of people, including the high and mighty, continue to pay homage to the former PM at his Masaki home, preparations for his burial are in gear.

Monduli town, where he will be buried on Saturday, is increasingly being crowded by people from all walks of life ahead of the burial.

The isolated town off the Arusha-Dodoma highway has turned into a beehive of activity in preparation for the funeral.

Roads within the town are being spruced up, while water supply networks are being fixed to serve multitudes of people.

"Certainly there will be an influx of people here," said Mr Calvin Richard, an official of the Monduli District Council.

He told The Citizen on the phone that senior officials of the Arusha regional leadership and the central government were already at the site.

The late prime minister, who breathed his last on Saturday in Dar es Salaam, will be buried at Ngarash village on the outskirts of Monduli town.

The site is about 10 kilometres from where the late PM Edward Sokoine was buried on April 15, 1984, three days after his death in a road crash.

Mr Richard said a larger crowd of mourners is anticipated this time around given improved transport, which has made the place easier to access than before.

Monduli, some 40 kilometres west of Arusha, is the late PM's hometown. He grew up there and went to school in the 1960s.

Mzee Abdallah Said, an Arusha resident, hinted at the likelihood of a replica of the crowds that turned up during the late Sokoine's burial 40 years ago.

He recalled a long motorcade with the casket of the fallen Sokoine that passed through Arusha city to Monduli from the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA).

"Thousands of people turned up on that day. It found me in the Kilombero area. There were many mourners saddened by the death of the premier, he said.

He said the emotional attachment to the late Sokoine shown by the large crowd of mourners would prevail at Lowassa's funeral this week.

Mzee Abdallah said he worked under Lowassa when the fallen PM was the managing director of the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) in 1989/90.

Laanyuni Sumuni Laizer, a resident of Monduli, said Lowassa's burial would attract more people than the crowds seen at the late Sokoine funeral.

Like Lowassa, the late Sokoine was a long-serving Member of Parliament for the Monduli constituency, largely inhabited by nomadic pastoralists.

Whereas Sokoine died in office, Lowassa passed away 16 years after stepping down as PM over the Richmond scandal and nine years after the end of his tenure as MP.

Mr Lowassa was Monduli MP from 1995 to 2005, during the reign of the third-phase government. He was an MP on the CCM youth ticket from 1985 to 1995.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan will lead the nation in the burial, which, according to Mr Mollel, will take place at the compound of the late PM's home.