JAKAYA KIKWETE’S tenure as president comes to an end next year. President Kikwete has many international admirers and has received adulation from the major Western democracies. As president, Kikwete twice hosted two US presidents – George W. Bush in 2008 and Barack Obama in July 2013. With many branding him the “darling of the West,” Kikwete in March 2013 received the Chinese president Xi Jinping, demonstrating to the world Tanzania’s non-alignment foreign policy.
Although many interpreted the US and Chinese presidents’ visits as competition for Tanzania’s natural resources, it was a diplomatic victory for Tanzania. Kikwete scooped the Most Impactful Leader in Africa Prize in April 2013 and in July 2014 the Icon of Democracy Award.
With the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Good Governance in Africa failing to get a winner this year, many have predicted that President Kikwete will win it when he retires. Despite the international accolades, President Kikwete has faced myriad challenges at home. Major corruption scandals have engulfed his presidency.
Parliament recently passed a scathing resolution to have Kikwete’s Cabinet ministers revoked over the Independent Power Tanzania Ltd (IPTL) that has rocked his government. A government report implicated the Prime Minister in the scandal that resulted in the plunder of more than $120 million from the country’s central bank by private businessmen and government officials.
With PM Mizengo Pinda narrowly escaping the censure, President Kikwete has no choice but to take action on the ministers implicated in the scam and prove that the international accolades were given to him on merit.