Even if you are not a Tanzanian, you must have heard about Jakaya Kikwete, the former president of Tanzania. Considering how long he has been on the seat, his name has become a popular one in African politics. He was the President of Tanzania for over a decade and has also contributed positively to the country’s development both economically and otherwise. However, there are a lot of facts about this man which many people are not aware of. Read on to know more about him.

A Brief Look at Jakaya Kikwete’s Political Career

Reputed as one of the more politically stable countries in the East African region,  the country of Tanzania has seen quite a number of political changes starting from its move from a unitary party system to a multiple party system in the early 90s. It was on the platform of what is now the dominant ruling party in Tanzania and the second longest-ruling party in Africa, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) that Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, made his way to the seat of presidency in 2005.

Born on 7th October 1951 in Msoga, Tanzania, Kikwete has always proven himself to be someone with a keen interest in politics and so he dedicated most of his youthful years serving his party, the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), moving from one position to another in the party ranks and from one location to another. When TANU merged with Zanzibar’s Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) to form Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), he took up and accomplished several tasks beneficial to both his political party and the country at large.

He became a Minister at 44, one of the youngest in the history of Tanzania. During his tenure as the finance minister, he recorded tremendous success – he was credited with creating cash budget systems and ramping up revenue collections to better allow for public finance management, as well as the establishment of the Tanzania Revenue Authority. Just a year after his appointment as finance minister, he was made Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and he held on to that position for ten years (the longest so far in the history of the country) until he was elected President of the United Republic of Tanzania in December 2005.

Kikwete’s 10 Years Service: His Political Achievements and Philosophy

Jakaya Kikwete

Kikwete became Tanzania’s fourth president after emerging winner of the country’s multiparty general election of 14 December 2005. He was declared the winner by the National Electoral Commission on 17 December, after winning by a landslide receiving 80.28 per cent of the popular vote. He held on to the position until 2015. Just like his long years of service as a minister had his name mentioned behind most notable achievements the country, among which is his ability to bring peace to the African Great Lakes region, his years as president were not deficient of some notable achievements.

Under his presidency, Jakaya Kikwete sought an ambitious agenda for a fast-growing and sustained economic growth in the country. At the time of his emergence as the country’s president, Tanzania, known to be primarily dependant on agriculture, was battling with the challenges of its structural adjustment programs, liberalization reforms, and debt repayment, all of which decreased the country’s ability to provide basic services. Upon his assumption as the President, Kikwete undertook some important move that saw the country’s economy being revamped.

Tanzania’s economy grew, inflation dropped and foreign debt was wiped. As a matter of fact, the country’s economy became one of the 10 fastest growing economies in Africa and among the 20 fastest growing economies in the world with GDP growth rate averaging 7%. It is true that critics still insist that most Tanzanians remain impoverished as he only created a meager 1.1 million jobs out of the 500,000-jobs-a-year promised, it didn’t dispute the fact that Jakaya did make a positive impact in the lives of Tanzanians.

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In terms of education, it is believed that to an extent, Kikwete’s government was particularly able to expand education opportunities to millions of children in Tanzania. Enrollment in primary education reportedly increased at 98%, and secondary school enrollment increased threefold.

Unlike some African leaders, Kikwete is very tolerant when it comes to religion. As a Muslim, he surprisingly has a collection of the Christian Holy Book, the Bible, most of which were given him as gifts. His administration is marked by freedom of religion and worship. Not one to wallow in mediocrity, the former Tanzanian President is very prominent on the social networks, especially on twitter where he was the sixth most followed African president.

In addition, Kikwete is a very vibrant lover of sports. He played basketball competitively in school and has been a patron of the Tanzania Basketball Federation for the past 10 years. Jakaya is not one to cling to political power, he is very satisfied with the two tenures as president of Tanzania. In fact, in one of his most recent speeches, he said he cannot wait to step down come October 2015, having been stressed out “these long years of thankless service.”

As President of Tanzania from 2005 to 2015, Kikwete also served as Chair of the Africa Union in 2008-2009 and Chairman of the Southern African Development Community Troika on Peace, Defense, and Security in 2012-2013. For his many political achievements, Dr. Kikwete has received many awards, including the United Nations Foundation’s Social Good Award and the Leadership Excellence Award by the Pan-African Youth Union. During his tenure as president, Kikwete was listed as one ten highest-paid presidents in Africa, according to the African Review, a publication based in Kenya. His annual salary was around $192, 000. In 2015 he was named African Statesman of the Year by The African Sun-Times.

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Who are the Members of Jakaya Kikwete’s Family

Dr Jakaya Kikwete and his wife Salma Kikwete

Growing up as the sixth child of his father, Halfani Mrisho Kikwete, and mother, Asha Jakaya. Jakaya Kikwete got married to Salma Kikwete in 1989, it was his second marriage and in both, he has nine children – Ridhiwani, Salama, Miraj, Ally, Khalifa, MwanaAsha, Khalfan, Rashid, and Mohamed (adopted). While details of his mother, siblings and kids are scarce, here are what we’ve gathered so far about his father, wife Salma and son Ridhiwani Kikwete

Halfani Mrisho Kikwete

Halfani, as we’ve said earlier is the father of Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania’s fourth president.  Halfani was famous in the government of the colonial Tanganyika and independent Tanzania. In the former, he was a district commissioner while in the later, he was both a regional administrator and an ombudsman. As a learned man in his own capacity, he made it possible that his children, including Jakaya, had a good education. It s therefore, not surprising how Jakaya followed in the steps of his father.

Salma Kikwete

Kikwete has been married to his wife, Salma, since 1989 and they have five children together. Salma started off as a classroom teacher and after two decades of service as a teacher, she took a leap into politics and together with her husband they led the country of Tanzania in various political positions.

Born 30 November 1963, Salma has also been noted as one of the most active First Ladies in the history of Tanzania. Aside from supporting her husband in his political endeavors, the Tanzanian educator and activist also explored her role as a politician. She was popular for her role in promoting awareness and prevention of HIV and AIDS. She and her husband were two of the first people tested for a national campaign for voluntary HIV/AIDS testing in Dar es Salaam. Following her effort in ending the spread of HIV/AIDS in her region, Salma became Vice President of the Eastern Region of the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA). She also founded the Wanawake na Maendeleo, or Women in Development (WAMA), a nonprofit organization that promotes development among women and children. In March 2017, she was appointed to a seat in the National Assembly by President John Magufuli.

Ridhiwani Kikwete

Professionally a lawyer, Ridhiwani is one of Dr Kikwete’s sons. He was born on April 16, 1979, and like his father, he is a CCM politician. He has even served as a member of the parliament after winning in a landslide victory by More than 86% in Chalinze constituency by-election. His party nominated him to contest for the Chalinze by-election following the death of Saidi Bwanamdogo and his election turned out successful in April 2014. Kikwete married his wife  Arafa in 2008 and together they have three children. 

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