Jakaya Kikwete

Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete is a Tanzanian politician who has been the 4th President of Tanzania since December 2005.

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Country of ResidenceTanzania
Date of Birth1950-10-07
Place Of BirthMsoga
ReligionSunni Islam
TitleHead of State

Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete (born October 7, 1950) is a Tanzanian politician who has been the 4th President of Tanzania since December 2005. Previously he was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1995 to 2005. Kikwete was also the Chairperson of the African Union from 31 January 2008 to 2 February 2009.


Between 1959 and 1963, Kikwete went to Karatu Primary School in Tanzania before continuing with middle school education at Tengeru School from 1962 to 1965.[1] After Tengeru, Kikwete moved to Kibaha Secondary School for his O-levels, which took place between 1966 and 1969 and he remained at this school for his advanced level education.[1] His final educational step was completed when he graduated from the University of Dar-es-Salaam in 1975 with a degree in Economics.[1]


Kikwete is an avid sports enthusiast and played basketball competitively at school. He has been a patron of the Tanzania Basketball Federation for the past 10 years.[1] He is married to Salma Kikwete, and they have eight children.[1]

Leadership and political career

George W. Bush welcomes Jakaya Kikwete in New York City.

Kikwete was born at Msoga, located in the Bagamoyo District of Tanganyika, in 1950. Graduating with a degree in economics in 1975, he opted for a low-paying job as an executive functionary/officer of the ruling Party (TANU later CCM). This gave him the opportunity to work at the grassroots in rural regions and districts of Tanzania.

Kikwete sharpened his leadership acumen in the military. He first had basic military training at Ruvu National Service Camp (1972) and later underwent a basic officers course at the famous Tanzania Military Academy at Monduli, Arusha, Tanzania's top military training institution. On successful completion of the course, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in 1976. He also undertook the Company Commander's Course in 1983 at the same academy. In his military career, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. From 1984 to 1986, Kikwete was Chief Political Instructor and Political Commissar at the Military Academy. He retired from the military as a lieutenant-colonel when political pluralism was reintroduced to Tanzania in 1992 when he chose to become a full time politician. Prior to that, he was permitted to be both in the military and political leadership.

In party politics, Kikwete started shining in 1982, when he was overwhelmingly elected by the party (CCM) national congress to be a Member of the National Executive Committee, the highest policy and decision-making body of the party. He has been re-elected every five years since. Also, in 1997, he was elected a member of the party's powerful 31-member Central Committee (CC). He is still a member of the Central Committee since he was reelected in 2002 for another term of 5 years.

As a party cadre, Kikwete moved from one position to another in the party ranks and from one location to another in the service of the party. When TANU and the Zanzibar’s Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) merged to form CCM in 1977, Kikwete was moved to Zanzibar and assigned the task of setting-up the new party’s organisation and administration in the Islands. In 1980, he was moved to the headquarters as administrator of the Dar es Salaam Head Office and Head of the Defence and Security Department before moving again up-country to the regional and district party offices in Tabora Region (1981–84) and Nachingwea (1986–88) and Masasi District (1988) in the country's southern regions of Lindi and Mtwara respectively. Kikwete throve in the military and grassroots party political organisation, mobilisation and administration until 1988 when he was appointed to join the Central Government. President Ally Hassan Mwinyi appointed him Member of Parliament and, simultaneously, Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals on November 7, 1988. In 1990, he was promoted to full Minister responsible for the Ministry of Water, Energy and Minerals. Later the same year, he successfully contested for a parliamentary seat in his home constituency of Bagamoyo. He was reappointed Minister for Water, Energy and Minerals in the government formed after the elections.

In 1994, at 44, he became one of the youngest Finance Ministers in the history of Tanzania. At the Treasury, he established discipline in public finance management and accountability and, until today, he is still remembered for establishing cash budget system and revamping of revenue collection structures, methods and institutions, including preparations for the formation and eventual establishment of the Tanzania Revenue Authority.

In December 1995, he became Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, being appointed by President Benjamin William Mkapaa of the third phase government. He held this post for ten years, until he was elected President of the United Republic of Tanzania in December 2005, hence becoming the country's longest serving foreign minister. During his tenure in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tanzania played a significant role in bringing about peace in the Great Lakes region, particularly in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Kikwete was also deeply involved in the process of rebuilding regional integration in East Africa. Specifically, several times, he was involved in a delicate process of establishing a Customs Union between the three countries of the East African Community (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania), where, for quite some time, he was a Chairman of East Africa Community’s Council of Ministers.

Introducing candidate Kikwete at a campaign rally in Dar es Salaam on 21 August 2005, President Mkapa described him as a super-diplomat, in recognition of his role in the search for peace in neighboring Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kikwete also participated in the initiation, and became a Co-Chair, of the Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy. On May 4, 2005, Kikwete emerged victorious among 11 CCM members who had sought the party's nomination for Presidential candidacy in the general election. After a 14 December 2005 multiparty general election, he was declared a winner by the Electoral Commission on December 17, 2005 and was sworn-in as the Fourth President of the United Republic of Tanzania on 21 December 2005.

President Kikwete's governing philosophy and political views are influenced by those of Julius Nyerere whom the President was close to. So far Kikwete's government has received accolades across the country and in the donor community for fighting corruption, investing in people, particularly in education, and push for new investments.

Corruption and other controversies

Kikwete's presidency has been marked with wide range of corruption, some of which happened during the presidencies of his predecessors. Some of his supporters claim that to be a sign of transparency that was brought in by Mr Kikwete. Other cases, like deaths, have also been brought up such as Tanzanian police killing people on Tanzanian streets and getting away with it. Some of the leading known corruption scandals are:

Issue/ Event Date of Event Cost to the Nation Government Explanation
  • BAE Security Radar Scandal
1999 £28 million The Tanzania government agreed to buy an overpriced radar, which it cannot maintain now. It came to be known later that more than a third of the total purchasing price was paid to a middleman of British citizenship to secure the contract. Also based on an Interpol report, one government minister had siphoned more than £1m to his bank account in Jersey. After many international legal actions, BAE was ordered by court to pay £30m to Tanzanian government.[2]
  • EPA Scandal
2005–2006 US$116 million The scandal consists of fraudulent payment of about TSh133 billion ($116 million) made by the Bank of Tanzania to 22 companies in the financial year 2005/06 involving the repayment of the country's external debt.[3] After the transactions became wildly known, the President sacked the Central Bank Governor and asked "kindly" those who looted the national treasury to return the money. A few months later, according to a government pronouncement, nearly half of the money (Tsh 60 billion) had "mysteriously" found its way back into state coffers. The Attorney General and the Inspector General of Police have refused to disclose the names, pleading for patience because the investigation is still going on. So far not all of the money has been returned and the government has neither released the culprit's names nor taken any legal action against them.[4]
  • Kiwira, Meremeta and other mining related scandals
2000–present Unknown Government officials in the previous administrations had taken advantage of the privatization policies and privatized national mines to themselves. A good example is the Kiwira mines, which were privatized to two individuals: the president and his minister for Energy and Natural Resources. The President of that time, Benjamin Mkapa, was rather "smart", registering his shares as AnBen Company; AnBen standing for first names of his wife Ann and himself Benjamin.[5]
  • Richmond, Dowans Electricity Scandal
2006 US$150 million (TSh172 billion) In 2006, Tanzania faced a serious crisis in electricity supply and, as an emergency measure, Richmond was awarded a contract to supply generators to provide 100 megawatts at a cost of TShs 172 billion. The generators failed to arrive on time and, when they did, they did not work as required. The pipeline was never built and the generators were provided by another company. Under part of the contract, however, the government agreed to pay some $137,000 a day regardless of the amount of electricity provided. Opposition MPs began to smell a rat and the House of Assembly set up a Select Committee to investigate the whole saga under the chairmanship of the ruling CCM Kyela MP, Harrison Mwakyembe. The committee worked diligently and eventually came up with a 165-page report. Parliamentary findings showed the Prime Minister(Edward Lowassa) to be involved in awarding the contract to nonexisting US-based company, and the Prime Minister resigned. However, the Tanzanian government had to keep the contract and keep paying a non-existing company $137,000 US a day without any power being generated. And now Tanzanians are faced with the problem of repaying the debt, with the government increasing the electricity bill by 40% [6]

Also, President Kikwete has been blamed for choosing his friends to the cabinet, a result of which he has no power to condemn them for their irresponsibility. The example of two consecutive bomb blasts at Mbagala and Gongo la Mboto arm base respectively in 2009 and 2011 where General Mwamunyange as well as the defense minister, Mwinyi, were in charge, but they insisted that it was not their fault for the blast and denied to brief the country about the reason for the blasts. The President himself kept praising to the two officials that they are working to secure a country something that raised anger among the victims of blasts.

Although in the past two years of Kikwete's presidency, a remarkable 1,500 new secondary schools have been built and a new 40,000-student science university has started being built in Dodoma, central Tanzania, the quality of these new schools are very poor, (no teachers, no desks, etc.), and there is still a lot that needs to be done. But these successes have led the United States government to grant Tanzania US $698 million under the Millennium Challenge Account assistance program, the UK government US $500 million for education, and the New York based Africa-America Institute (AAI) to award Tanzania the Africa National Achievement Award in September 2007 in New York.

President Kikwete launched a national campaign for voluntary HIV/AIDS testing in Dar es Salaam. He and his wife, First Lady of Tanzania Mama Salma Kikwete, were the first to be tested.[7]

He was elected as Chairman of the African Union on January 31, 2008 at an AU summit in Addis Ababa.[8] His first notable success as AU Chairman was to help bring a two month political crisis in Kenya to an end by brokering a power-sharing deal between Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga. He was also one of the first to criticise Robert Mugabe's regime at the most recent summit.


Honour Awarded by Date of Award Reason for Award
  • Honorary Doctor of Law
Rev. Dennis Dease, University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) September 2006 in recognition of his dedicated public service[9]
  • Doctor of Humane Letters
Dr Harris Mule, Kenyatta University 19 December 2008 in recognition of his great effort in leadership excellence, peace initiative and support for education[10][11]
  • Honorary doctorate in the science field of International Relations
Prof Şerif Ali Tekalan, Fatih University February 2010 for promoting international relations between Turkey and Tanzania[12]
  • Honorary degree of Public Health
Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences 11 December 2010 for his efforts in modernizing the health sector and ensuring higher learning opportunities for health workers[13]
  • Doctor of laws Honoris causa
Ambassador Fulgence Kazaura, University of Dar es Salaam October 2011 at the 41st graduation ceremony of the University of Dar es Salaam[14]