Tanzania: Who are the CCM business loyalists working with President Hassan?

By Abdul Halim, in Dar es Salaam

Posted on Wednesday, 29 June 2022 13:22
Photo by TAR

More than a year after taking office following the sudden death of her predecessor, John Magufuli, President Samia Suluhu Hassan is in firm control of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party.

In April 2021, ruling party delegates convened in Dodoma and elected Hassan as the CCM’s sixth chairperson. President Hassan, who had previously served in various other capacities in the CCM, quickly started to reinstate cadres who Magufuli had sidelined.

Who are the CCM business loyalists working closely with Hassan?

Magufuli took a hard line on some international and local businesses, saying his goal was to fight tax evasion and other harmful practices.

President Hassan is taking a more business-friendly approach. The following are some of CCM’s influential business leaders and cadres backing up her agenda.

Aziz is a businessman, entrepreneur and economist. He was a member of parliament for Igunga constituency from 1994 until his resignation in 2011.

Some key accomplishments during his tenure include pioneering community health insurance in East Africa. Every household in his constituency was provided with health insurance from the Community Health Fund. The idea was adopted by the government, which created the National Health Insurance Fund.

During President Jakaya Kikwete’s time in office, Aziz served as a member of the CCM central committee, from 2006 to 2011. In 2021, he was said to have amassed an estimated net wealth of $8.2bn.

Aziz owns Caspian Mining, a contract mining firm, and real estate in Dubai and Oman. He got his start in his family’s trading business and then branched out on his own.

In May 2014, he sold 17.2% of Vodacom Tanzania to Vodacom Group of South Africa for an estimated $250m.

Recently, he has been getting closer with President Hassan. He is one of the top financiers of The Tanzania Royal Tour, a special film created by US journalist Peter Greenberg, seeking to boost tourism in Tanzania.

In April, Aziz and Madagascar’s Axian Group bought the Tanzania telecommunication companies Tigo and Zantel.

Kinana is a veteran CCM cadre, having served in various capacities, including defence minister, army officer during the one-party rule, and was the first speaker of the East Africa Parliament, from 2001 to 2006. He was recently elected CCM deputy chairperson after having previously served as the party’s secretary general.

He has been at the centre of CCM politics since Tanzania held its first multi-party election in 1995, where he led the campaign team in the 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015 elections.

Kinana owns one of the leading pharmaceutical businesses in Tanzania. He is on the board of Precision Air, and has been on the board of “leading companies in various industries, including shipping, technology, telecommunication, media, real estate, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, insurance, oil and gas, and banking”, according to his biography.

His impact in the ruling party goes beyond business because many supporters look at him as a game changer who can turnaround the party style depending on what is going on at the time. In the lead-up to 2015 elections when the ruling party faced tough opposition, Kinana travelled to almost every corner in Tanzania to ask Tanzanians to believe in the CCM. Party officials were facing serious allegations of corruption and misappropriation of state funds.

Dewji is the chief executive officer of MeTL, a Tanzanian conglomerate founded by his father in the 1970s. MeTL is active in textile manufacturing, flour milling, beverages and edible oils in eastern, southern and central Africa.

Dewji, Tanzania’s only billionaire, signed the Giving Pledge in 2016, promising to donate at least half his fortune to philanthropic causes. He was reportedly kidnapped at gunpoint in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in October 2018 and released after nine days.

According to Forbes, Dewji is the 17th-richest person in Africa, with an estimated net worth of $1.6bn.

For a long time, Dewji has been a member of the CCM and represented the Singida constituency in parliament from 2005 to 2015.

He has been supporting government development efforts in various sectors, such as water, sanitation and education. He is said to be among the top campaign financiers for President Hassan ahead of the 2025 poll.

ASAS Group was formed in 1978 as a group of companies seeking opportunities outside of transportation and cargo services, which were launched in 1936. ASAS now owns real estate, service stations and dairy farms.

Its chief executive officer, Faraj Asas, is a senior member of the CCM and has been supporting President Hassan in implementing her development agenda in the transportation and agriculture sectors by supporting farmers, especially in south-western Tanzania.

The family is influential, particularly in Iringa, central Tanzania, where its headquarters are located. The chairman of the family-run ASAS Group, Faraj Ahmed Abri, died in August 2021. Faraj Asas’s brother, Ahmed Abri, is on the CCM national executive council.

Although he does not have a big business background, energy minister January Makamba is a crucial player in the Tanzanian government’s economic strategy, which aims at developing the country’s natural gas reserves and providing more electricity to industrial consumers and households. Magufuli sacked him in 2018, but Hassan reinstated him.

Makamba is a member of parliament who has been representing Bumbuli constituency since 2010. He is the founder of Bumbuli Development Corporation (BDC), which is focused on bringing development to the area.

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