feeding my own misguided insanity

Tanzanian President Kikwete Accused of Accepting Bribes

September 6, 2011 Shem Radzikowski No Comments

DAR ES SALAAM — Surprising how some global events end up beating a path to your own front door. Just this morning I was reading a WikiLeaks U.S. cable written by the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania, which accuses Tanzania’s President, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, of accepting bribes to the tune of $1 million from the UAE-based owner of the Kempinski Hotel chain, Ali Albwardy.

In addition to the bribe, Kikwete is accused of accepting a lavish shopping trip to London. Among other things, “Ali Albwardy bought Kikwete five Saville Row suits”.

President Kikwete

The fact that a cash amount is mentioned, or that a ‘contribution’ was made to his CCM ruling party isn’t an issue at all; under Tanzanian law, donations to a political party are allowed. But having stayed at the Kempinski Kilimanjaro in Dar es Salaam on quite a few occasions, it did intrigue me enough to dig further.

Interestingly, according to the cable transcript Albwardy wanted to secure the rights to build a hotel on the edge of Ngorongoro Crater and “another on the Serengeti plain overlooking the main animal migration routes”.

Stringent conservation rules currently ban the construction of permanent structures inside national parks, including in the crater and on the Serengeti Plain.

It would appear that even back in 2006 — when the cable was written — the hotel publicity director, Lisa Pile, was already hinting that legislation would be changed in order to allow the construction.

Convenient coincidence this probably is not. If the allegations are true, when the democratic process is swept aside, this type of conduct is nothing more than corruption at the highest levels.

The President Responds

Salva Rweyemamu, director of presidential communications, told a news conference on Monday 5 September 2011:

“This cable is as untruthful as it is outrageous. It is full of lies and innuendoes seeking to tarnish the good image and name of the president.”

Ali Albwardy Responds

In a news report released by Reuters on 9 September 2011 stated:

The managing director of Albwardy Investment, which is owned by Dubai-based investor Ali Albwardy, described the accusations published by WikiLeaks from a February 2006 U.S. cable as “monstrous and totally untrue”.


Original WikiLeaks Cable

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/13/2016

Classified By: Ambassador Michael Retzer, Reason 1.5 (d)

 ¶1. (C) President Kikwete has accepted gifts (bribes) from
the owner of the Kempinski Hotel chain,s Tanzanian
properties, a citizen of the United Arab Emirates.

 ¶2. (C) In a conversation with the manager and the publicity
director of Dar Es Salaam,s Kilimanjaro-Kempinski Hotel
hours after accompanying A/S Frazer to her October 18, 2005
meeting with then-Foreign Minister Kikwete, I commented on
Kikwete's flashy attire, asking "Who dresses him?" "We do,"
they responded.  Initially thinking this meant Kikwete
frequented a men,s shop in the hotel, I learned later in
the evening from hotel publicity director Lisa Pile (protect)
that the hotel owner*UAE citizen Ali Albwardy*had recently
flown Kikwete to London for a subsidized shopping
expedition.  Among other things, on that trip Ali Albwardy
bought Kikwete five Saville Row suits.  He had also recently
made a $1 million cash contribution to the CCM (which is a
legal contribution under current Tanzanian law).

 ¶3. (C) Pile told me the Kempinski Hotel chain is greatly
expanding its presence in Tanzania.  She said that in
December it would open "the best hotel in Zanzibar."  Her
prediction was a little off; the new Kempinski hotel, located
on the beach on Zanzibar,s east coast, opened January 5.  I
attended the opening ceremony along with Zanzibari President
Karume, who was asked publicly by Ali Albwardy for a site in
Stone Town to build a new hotel.  Later that day, Pile
revealed that the Zanzibar government had already earmarked
for Ali Albwardy a hotel site in Stone Town.

 ¶4. (C) Pile also said in the October 18 conversation that Ali
Abwardy was about to receive the rights to construct two new
hotels on the mainland: one on the edge of Ngorongoro Crater
and another on the Serengeti plain overlooking the main
animal migration routes.  Stringent conservation rules
currently ban the construction of permanent structures inside
national parks*including in the crater and on the Serengeti
plain*but Pile said that in November legislation would be
introduced to parliament to authorize the new hotels.
(Comment: We have received no reports on new legislation,
but the Dar Es Salaam Daily News on January 15 reported that
the Tanzania National Parks Authority had approved construction
of a five star hotel on the Serengeti plain.)

 ¶4. (C) Later on October 18, over dinner, an Indian/South
Asian man described as a business associate of Ali Albwardy
briefly took Pile from the table for a conversation in
Kiswahili.  I am not sure what was said, but Kikwete's name
came up several times and he passed her an envelope.  Pile
told me the envelope was stuffed with 1 million shillings
( $1,000) and was to pay for a Kikwete meeting at the
Kilmanjaro-Kempinski later that month.  Apparently Kikwete is
a regular customer, but no name ever appears on the hotel
registry when a government bigshot has an "event" in one of
the guest rooms.

 ¶5. (C) Bio Note:  Lisa Pile, an Australian citizen, has
lived in Dar working for Kempinski Hotels since early 2004.
Before that she had served in a similar capacity with the
Kempinski chain in China.  Her family in Australia is prominent in
Australia's Liberal Party (the center-right party of Prime
Minister John Howard).

 ¶6. (C) Comment:  What does it all mean?  I don,t know, but
my guess is that the investor Ali Albwardy has access to
oil money out of the UAE.  I suspect giving free clothes and
the campaign donation is just the way these people do business.

 ¶7. (C) For his part, Kikwete probably thinks having all these
five star hotels around is a good idea for the country,and I
agree with him.  His new minister of Natural Resources and
Tourism, Anthony Diallo, says he wants to double tourism,s
contribution to the national economy in ten year,s time.
Kikwete probably believes there is no harm in taking these
&little gifts8 to do what he would have been inclined to do
anyway.  That said, they are what they are: bribes.


Reuters. (2011, August 9). UAE investor rejects Tanzania graft accusations. Retrieved August 9, 2011, from Reuters: http://af.reuters.com/article/tanzaniaNews/idAFL5E7K708Y20110907

Reuters. (2011, September 6). Tanzania denies president bribe claims in US cable. Retrieved September 6, 2011, from Reuters: http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE78501M20110906?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true

WikiLeaks. (2006, February 14). Viewing cable 06DARESSALAAM277, KIKWETE CORRUPTION TIDBIT. Retrieved August 6, 2011, from WikiLeaks: http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/02/06DARESSALAAM277.html

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