The Tanzania Times
Eastern Africa News Network

People Who Pushed Mkapa into Running For Presidency Against His Will in 1995

Former Tanzanian Head of State, Benjamin William Mkapa who died around this time, in 2020 was retiring from politics when somebody called him to vie for presidency in 1995.

Speaking from his classic autobiography, the late Mkapa says the decision to quit from politics wasn’t a sudden one, as he had vowed to throw in the gloves way back in 1990.

“In 1985 the Party Political Leadership from my District of Masasi asked me to stand for Nyamumbu constituency in Masasi District, to which I was elected,” writes former President Mkapa.

As it happens, Benjamin Mkapa was to be re-elected again to serve Nyamumbu during the 1990 polls.

It was at this time that, Mkapa vowed not to run again for any political position once his term ends in 1995.

“I had resolved that, come 1995, I wouldn’t stand again, it was time to retire because I felt had been in politics for too long,” he adds.

And indeed, by 1995 he was calling it quits from both politics and any form of leadership, choosing to retire from it all.

According to Benjamin, towards the end of 1994 he discussed the matter with his wife, Mama Anna Mkapa and both agreed that it was time to leave politics behind.

Mkapa was later to run for presidency mainly due to pressures from friends, party coallegues, some government officials and relatives.

Among the people who coaxed Mkapa to run for presidency include his former editorial mate during the ‘Nationalist’ newspaper era, Ferdinand Ruhinda, and Kabenga Nsa Kaisi, former Members of Parliament, Patrick Qorro, Edgar Maokola-Majogo and Jared Gachocha.

My Life, My Purpose: A Tanzanian President Remembers

Others who exacted pressure to Ben, were former envoys, Ambassadors, Saleh Tambwe, Adam Marwa and Suleiman Hemed. This Hemed accompanied Ben, throughout campaigning time.

There were also party cadres like Harrison Mwakyembe and Walter Bgoya as well as a businessman Yusuph Mushi.

They all told Mkapa that he was the right person to champion reforms in the country.

It was time when revenue collection was poor, public servants paid poorly with salaries coming late and mass call for changes across the country.

When he finally relented, Mkapa first had to write to his mentor, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and dispatched the letter through Joseph Sinde Warioba.

Warioba didn’t know what the letter contained and Nyerere did not discuss the content with him either.

Eventually when Mkapa met with Mwalimu Nyerere, the latter expressed surprise.

“It never occured to me that you would be seeking to run for highest office,” Mwalimu told him in 1995.

Contrary to what most people believed, Mwalimu did not want Mkapa to succeed Ali Hassan Mwinyi.

He frankly told Mkapa so.

“I had another better person in mind. But he seems not to be interested,” Mwalimu told Mkapa.

As far as Benjamin Mkapa is concerned, the person that Mwalimu wanted was Salim Ahmed Salim.

Mkapa died at 81 on the 24th of July 2020.

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