Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Tanzania: CHADEMA politician, Zitto Kabwe, to consider defecting to new party

CHADEMA politician, Zitto Kabwe, to consider defecting to new party
Menas Associates understands that opposition politician Zitto Kabwe is considering announcing his defection from CHADEMA to a newly established party, the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT).

Kabwe – universally known as Zitto – has been a CHADEMA member since his teenage years. He has represented the Kigoma North constituency since 2005 and, at 29, is still the youngest MP ever to be elected in Tanzania. He made his name in 2007 with a call for an inquiry into the granting of a Special Mining Licence to Barrick Gold for the Buzwagi Gold Mine that year. Though the inquiry was never instituted, it led to a review of mining legislation that led to the Mining Act of 2010.

Since then, Kabwe impressed as the chairman of the Public Organisations Accounts Committee between 2010 and 2013, and thereafter with the Public Accounts Committee. In recent years his ambition has made him enemies within CHADEMA’s leadership. This culminated in him being removed from all party offices in November 2013. His legal challenge is still in the courts. 

A key issue for him now is the management of Kenya’s natural resources. Kabwe was instrumental in getting Statoil’s natural gas terms into national and international media after they were leaked. He was also instrumental in drawing attention to illicit financial flows out of Tanzania and tax avoidance schemes made through mispricing and the use of shell companies. He does, however, remain sympathetic towards investors and has maintained good relationships with major companies, including Barrick Gold and BG. 

If he does move to the ACT, he would be unable to run for the presidency as he is under 40 years of age. He has in the past stated that his current term would be his final one as an MP, although that may change now that he is considering joining the ACT. Whatever he decides, Kabwe’s commitment to the management of Kenya’s natural resources will ensure he remains a national figure to watch.

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