Membe’s political impact is complicated 2023

During his years as Foreign Affairs minister, he may have visited Arusha often.

With regional and continental authorities based in Arusha, a cabinet minister controlling the docket was unsurprised.

In late 2015, the diplomatic city lost Mr. Bernard Membe, who died yesterday.

On April 27, he resurfaced in a non-diplomatic institution.

The Institute of Accountancy Arusha (IAA) asked him to speak on African peace and security issues.

The 30-year-old training center recently added a peace and security military science course.

His explanations of security issues wowed military strategy students, academics, and others.

At an accounting and auditing school, such a speech may not appeal to the audience.

It had to. Insurgencies plague eastern Africa from Mozambique through eastern DR Congo, the two Sudans, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

He discussed DDRRR, a diplomatic term for disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, resettlement, and repatriation, to halt the violence.

After the fourth-phase regime ended, the outspoken politician almost disappeared for years.

Mr. Membe was an intelligence officer, diplomat, MP, and minister.

After becoming an MP for Mtama in Lindi in 2000, he became known to the public.

He once halted a Parliamentary discussion on alleged corruption, misuse, or theft at a diplomatic station abroad.

He urged the House that public authorities should no longer be bashful about criticizing incompetent ones.

Mr. Membe’s political influence resurfaced after President Jakaya Kikwete appointed him Foreign Affairs minister.

However, he got caught up in several dramas, proving that politics is dangerous.

He was mocked in the mainstream and formal media as a minister preparing to become President Kikwete a few years later.

He delayed responding to the accusations while formulating Mr. Kikwete’s foreign policy during a period of high investment.

When he finally defended himself against accusations that he was unfit for the presidency, it was like a cheetah opening its claws.

He claimed at a media-covered gathering that he knew all those behind the nasty campaign against him and their networks and was ready to fight them.

While in the government, Mr. Membe boasted of his well-informed network.

However, Membe and Kikwete were close. He trusted the fourth-phase president completely.

A Tanzanian leader made innumerable formal visits to various nations, maybe barring South America, throughout that period.

Tanzania welcomed various world leaders from 2005 to 2015, including George W. Bush and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2013, respectively.

Due to its diplomacy, Tanzania hosted some of the most prominent conferences during those days.

AfDB and other global organizations organized several of those that attracted many delegates in Arusha.

Despite being engaged in the African Union (AU), Tanzania has never hosted the annual Heads of State Summits.

President Kikwete’s 4th term (2005–2015) took up the continental organization’s chairmanship.

Tanzania last headed the AU (formerly OAU) in 1984-85 under former President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

Although Membe died without becoming president, he was close to power.

He ran for president twice, first under the CCM in 2015, losing in the elimination stage to the late President John Pombe Magufuli.

He ran for president under ACT-Wazalendo in 2020 after losing favor with the ruling party. Opposition lost badly.

After previous presidents Jakaya Kikwete and Benjamin Mkapa, Mr. Membe served as Foreign Affairs minister the longest.

While the late Mkapa was Foreign Affairs minister for a record-setting 1977-1980 and 1984-1990, Mr. Kikwete, or JK, held the docket for 10 years (1995-2005).

He joined a “club” of famous diplomats who served as Foreign Affairs ministers since independence but never became prime minister.

Oscar Kambona, John Malecela, Ibrahim Kaduma, Salim Ahmed Salim, Joseph Rwegasira, Dr Asha-Rose Migiro, and Dr Augustine Mahiga.

Mr. Membe’s 2015 presidential loss is debated. He was eliminated last minute despite the incumbent’s support.

According to Mr Membe’s acquaintances, his political woes began following Dr Magufuli’s 2015 election win.

The late spy-turned-minister may have disagreed with the November 2015 fifth-phase President, however nothing is known.

Only days after Dr. Magufuli assumed office, he urged him to reconsider his international travel cutbacks, which he believed needless for the country.

The former minister said Tanzania and its economy needed global engagement to survive.

The first five years of the fifth-phase administration barred Mr. Membe from public sector appointments.

In 2021, he informed a local weekly newspaper that he was nominated for Commonwealth secretary general in late 2015, but the administration declined.

After a release of a clip in which he and other CCM stalwarts purportedly criticized the Magufuli government, he virtually stayed out of the government for the whole 2016 time, sparking suspicion.

After his expulsion from the CCM, Mr. Membe announced a 2020 vengeance mission.

He joined the opposition party ACT-Wazalendo and became a 2020 presidential contender. After commencing his presidential campaign in August 2020, he disappeared and traveled abroad again.

He denied withdrawing from the presidential contest during a political event days before the election.

Instead, he informed the assembly that he was still in the race, reminding them that in football, the last 90 minutes counted.

He finished third in the 15-person presidential contest.

He received 81,000 votes, compared to 12.5 million for Magufuli and 1.9 million for Tundu Lissu (Chadema).

Mr. Assah Mwambene, an AICC communication officer, was startled by his death yesterday.

He was really kind. He also helped others in need, he told The Citizen.

Mr. Mwambene worked with the late Membe while he was Foreign Affairs minister and oversaw the ministry’s media department.

He remembers the previous minister for his 2012–2013 Lake Nyasa conflict between Tanzania and Malawi.

He claimed he formed a team of specialists from both nations and beyond to determine if Malawi had jurisdictional control over the lake.

After the 2019 disgrace, Mr. Membe was restored as a CCM member, but Mr. Mwambene is unsure if he would return to politics.

I know he wrote works on diplomacy, peace, and security. The Institute of Accountancy Arusha (IAA) gave him a visiting lecturer position on the same.

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