Kama ulikuwa hujui maana ya neno “machachari” si ajabu katika kipindi cha wiki kadhaa zilizopita umeijua. Vyombo vingi vya habari nchini Tanzania vimekuwa vikitumia neno hilo kumuelezea mbunge wa Kigoma Kaskazini, Mheshimiwa Zitto Kabwe kutokana na yaliyojiri bungeni hivi karibuni.
Akiwa na umri wa miaka 29 tu (hivi sasa ana miaka 30) Zitto Zuberi Kabwe, aliingia bungeni na kuwa mbunge mdogo kupita wote wa kuchaguliwa. Aliingia bungeni baada ya kupata dhamana ya asilimia 51 ya wapiga kura wa jimbo lake la Kigoma Kaskazini kwa kupitia chama cha CHADEMA (Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo).
Hivi karibuni mbunge huyu kijana zaidi alisimamishwa kuhudhuria vikao vya bunge mpaka hapo Januari mwakani. Kufuatia kitendo hicho, jina la Zitto Kabwe pengine ndio jina ambalo limekuwa likitajwa miongoni mwa watanzania wengi kupita jina lingine lolote kwa wakati huu.
BongoCelebrity, hivi karibuni, tulipata fursa ya kufanya naye mahojiano yafuatayo ili kumjua zaidi na pia kutaka kujua ana mipango gani katika siku za mbeleni. Alianza lini kujishughulisha na siasa? Anajisikiaje baada ya kufariki dunia kwa mbunge, kijana mwenzie Amina Chifupa? Anasemaje kuhusu kilichomtokea bungeni hivi karibuni? Je ana mpango wa kugombea uraisi hususani baada ya matukio ya hivi karibuni? Kupata majibu ya maswali hayo na mengine mengi fuatana nasi katika mahojiano yafuatayo;
BC: There is a saying that says no one goes into politics for nothing, something must have pushed them into politics. On your side, what made you decide to go into politics?
ZK: I was born a politician. Politics is in my blood. I have been taking political positions since when I was in Primary School. When I decided to join an opposition political Party, I was motivated by the mere fact that Tanzania needed to have an effective opposition o check on the ruling party. I joined CHADEMA at the age of 16 and have remained with the party since then.
BC: Do/did you have a role model? If you were not a member of parliament today, what would you be doing?
ZK: Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim was and is still my role model. I see him as a well groomed person for leadership. Although he is a Tanzanian President who never became, he played a very significant role in the transformation of the OAU to AU. If I were not an MP, I would have been a lecturer, researcher and a writer. I will do the same once I leave politics. I love teaching.
BC: In some countries or societies politics is a family matter. A current good example is in the US’s Bush family and now even in Tanzania whereby our president’s son (Ridhiwani Kikwete) is now into politics. Does political involvement or policy making have a tradition in your family too?
ZK: I could say so. My mother is a local politician in Kigoma municipality. My grandfather comes from the Chief’s family. However, politics is more in me from my readings and involvement in the society.
Zitto Kabwe akiwa na mama yake mzazi hivi karibuni jimboni kwake Kigoma.
BC: Political experience is said to be one very important component if one wants to emerge as a great leader in the future. Do you agree? And if you agree, how were you involved in political grassroots activities before your involvement in party politics?
ZK: Experience is a necessary but not sufficient condition for one to be a good leader. As I said before, since primary school I was a prefect, and then at the University level I was a student leader of the Dar-es- Salaam University Students Organisation (DARUSO). The experience I gained at the University as a student leader was enormous. It has really helped me to approach issues in a very progressive way. Students’ protests and conflicts strengthened my skills for leadership and how to handle crises.
BC: Was there any disruptions in your political career path and why?
ZK: There were no significant disruptions.
BC: When you look back from the first day you officially began your political career, has there been any changes in terms of your objectives?
ZK: To be honest, there have been a number of changes. When I became an MP, most of my objectives were for my Kigoma North constituency. But once I got into the house, it seemed obvious that I had an obligation of addressing more national issues than parochial Kigoma North issues alone. I therefore see things in a bigger picture now.
BC: What was your motivation to join a political party?
ZK: I was motivated by a desire to see an accountable government. I believe that can only be achieved through a multiparty system. In Tanzania legally we have multi-party system, but in reality/practically we have a SINGLE PARTY DOMINANCE SYSTEM whereby one party (CCM) dominates all state organs. It’s my mission to see an end to the single party dominance. I want to mobilise Tanzanians to put this system to an end so that they can eventually realize ‘thamani ya kodi yao’. This can only be achieved through a strong parliament with members coming from more parties. I have a dream that, by November 2010, opposition MPs in Tanzanian Parliament will reach not less than 40%.
BC: Which function/offices did you hold in your party at the beginning?
ZK: I started as a Policy officer of the party. Then I became a Foreign Desk Officer and eventually Director for International Cooperation. I am currently a Deputy Secretary General of the Party.
BC: We know that you are an MP for Kigoma North Constituency on CHADEMA ticket. Therefore with no further question, you are CHADEMA’s member. Do you have mentors within your party?
ZK: Freeman Mbowe is my mentor. He saw me at the university, persuaded me to support the party intellectually. He has courage and vision to lead a party. He seriously groomed me as far as leadership is concerned.
BC: At the University of Dar-es-salaam you studied Economics. How does your profession correspond with your political work?
ZK: It corresponds so much. I am now a shadow Minister for Economy and hence an Opposition spokesperson for economic development of Tanzania. So I use my economics knowledge in my political work. It helps a lot.
BC: What kind of vocational training, degrees or other professional qualification do you have?
ZK: I did a course on International Marketing in Germany for a year and received several trainings in Trade Economics. I am a junior expert on Trade Economics.
BC: A lot of women in Tanzania are now holding very powerful political positions and careers. What is your opinion on that and do you think equal opportunity strategies have an impact in your country to promote women not only in decision making but also execution?
ZK: It’s true that now there are more women in political positions than before. However, the system is still male dominated. Most women you see are holding appointed positions. We have to reach a situation whereby women can contest and win seats without gender favouritism. Women face cultural and financial obstacles. So far there is no equal opportunity. We have to create the equal opportunity environment by removing these cultural and financial obstacles so that women can as well reach even higher positions.
BC: Recently, Tanzania lost one of her very young and most aspiring politician. I am talking about honourable Amina Chifupa (R.I.P). You and Amina were known to be very close due to your youthfulness. How has her death impacted you? Do you feel she has left an even greater responsibility of representing Tanzanian youth?
ZK: For sure. Amina was my close friend. We shared a lot. We learned a lot together. She was a very courageous woman and a fast learner. She was not to die. I am currently collecting her works in Parliament and plan to publish it as a book. I just want people and the next generations to know that we had such a courageous young woman MP. One friend of mine teased me after my private members motion in the house last August. She texted me with the message “The Courage of Amina, The Charisma of Mwalimu and The Confidence of Zitto”. This was after I moved my motion very articulately. The motion led to my suspension in the House.
BC: Steadman Group survey which was conducted between June and July 2007 concluded that you are/were the most liked Member of Parliament (MP). How did you feel about that and why do you think you are a most liked MP?
ZK: I felt good and that my work is recognized. It gave me more strength.
BC: In your political career what has been the most innovative/creative/challenging undertaking thus far?
ZK: Many! But the most challenging was organizing and leading CHADEMA’s campaigns in 2005. We started from scratch. I had to give leadership and we managed to double our share of votes and our number of MPs.
BC: What do you for fun?
ZK: I listen to music, go out and read.
Zitto Kabwe akisalimiana na watoto nje ya nyumba aliyokulia huko Kigoma hivi karibuni.
BC: As human beings we sometimes badly fail in order to learn. What lessons have you learned from your greatest failure? Where do you think you failed and why?
ZK: I learn to be focused. I have some failures. Failures that can be corrected. So far let me not mention where I failed. But I have failures, a number of them as a human being and as a politician. I had relationships I was not supposed to have. I constantly do self reflection in order to correct myself.
BC: One of the criticisms that are often directed to Tanzanian politicians is that “you don’t read” and also “you don’t write” books. Do you agree? Why?
ZK: I agree. Most politicians in Tanzania don’t read and writing is a huge toll to most of us. Can you imagine travelling with a Tanzanian MP from Dar to Toronto and he/she touches no single book/ newspaper? That is what happens. I read and I write. By January I expect to have about 3 books. One on why and how I won an election, second one on the late Amina and third one on The Politics of Tanzanian Parliament. First two books are on final touches. For the third one I have already collected all necessary documents.
Before 2010 I have a plan to write a book on who influences Tanzanian politics. I want to reveal the so called “Holly Trinity in Tanzanian Politics” I will co-author the book with some highly respected journalists in Tanzania. I have asked my colleagues to statrt researching. This book project, if becomes successful, will be earth breaking.
BC: What best book have you read in the past year? Who wrote it and why do you think it’s the best?
ZK: Role of Parliament in Curbing Corruption published by the World Bank and edited by Rick Stapenhurst, Niall Johnstone and Ricardo Pelizzo. The Book opened my eyes on how as an MP I can participate in the war against corruption in Tanzania. As a result I submitted in the House a private members bill to establish a Commissioner for Ethics Office and act as a registrar for Assets and interests of MPs. The bill is yet to be considered into parliamentary business. The bill aims to address the problem of conflict of interest among MPs as more and more business people gets into the Parliament.
NB: You can read the some of the pages of the above mentioned book by clicking here.
BC: Although we usually do not discuss political matters in its details in this blog, if we won’t ask you this question, we will not be doing justice to our readers. Therefore we are going to ask. What do you say about the recent development of your political career since been suspended from the parliament? In your own words what happened?
ZK: I call what happened an abuse to parliamentary majority. CCM MPs abused their numbers in the house and wanted to humiliate me. They planned to keep me quite. I did nothing wrong with my motion to ask for a probe committee to investigate the new mining contract. CCM MPs are corrupt and they were there to defend their corrupt Minister. Parliamentary Standing Orders were not followed at all. It’s bad for our democracy
Mbunge Zitto Kabwe akichangia hoja bungeni.
BC: Where you see yourself in next 10 years’ time? Any plans to run for presidency?
ZK: I harbour no ambition for Presidency. I will not run for a parliamentary seat in 2010. I want to be part of a team of leaders who will campaign for more opposition parliamentarians. In 10 years time, I might be teaching at one of the local Universities. I have so much pressure to run again in 2010, but I don’t think if I will change my mind. Let’s wait and see.
BC: Thank you for your time.
ZK: Thank you too.