Plan to separate politics and business: JK to face stiff opposition from within CCM ranks THISDAY REPORTER Dar es Salaam PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwetes ambitious plans for a major overhaul of the countrys political system in the upcoming 2010 general elections faces silent opposition from powerful forces within the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), political insiders have revealed. The intended overhaul is aimed at separating conflicting interests of business and politics in the country by forcing would-be politicians to make a clear choice between the two. Informed sources have now told THISDAY that a network of powerful politicians within CCM, most of whom have amassed massive wealth through corruption and other dubious dealings, are determined to oppose the presidents plans. After assuming economic and financial power, some prominent business tycoons are now focusing on gaining more and more political influence through the use of their wealth. Thats why in the 2005 general elections, we saw a scramble by such business tycoons to gain a foothold in Parliament through CCM. Some succeeded, others were not so lucky, said a well-placed source within the ruling party. There is ample evidence that even more business tycoons are positioning themselves to use their wealth to buy their way into public office in the 2010 general elections, hence President Kikwetes decision to draw a distinct line between business and politics, the source further explained. It is now feared that the rush to gain political power by wealthy businessmen now poses a bona fide threat to national security and the future political well-being of the nation. People close to CCMs inner circle say there is growing opposition among powerful CCM leaders who would directly be affected by the proposed shake-up of the political system. There are some very senior CCM members at cabinet level, within Parliament, and inside the partys central committee and national executive committee (NEC), who are not amused by the presidents proposed plans to kick businesspeople out of politics, said another informed CCM member. In fact, you can be sure that some of these powerful government and CCM leaders may very well try to wreck the presidents plans, the ruling party cadre added. Independent political pundits also believe Kikwete as CCM national chairman has his work cut out for him as he tries to implement his intentions of separating business from politics in the 2010 general elections. Like oil and water, politics and business can never mix for obvious reasons. Thats why they need to be separated. The president is quite right on this, noted one respected pundit. Under the presidents proposals, individuals who aspire for election to public office will not be allowed to be actively engaged in politics at the same time. Currently, a good number of members of Parliament and even cabinet ministers also concurrently serve as managing directors, shareholders or members of the boards of directors of private business companies. The situation where active politicians have shares in private companies that do business with the government has raised serious ethical and conflict of interest questions. The latest national debate on the need to separate politics from business was particularly triggered by revelations that ex-President Benjamin Mkapa and first lady Anna Mkapa were themselves actively engaged in business for personal financial gain while serving at State House. President Kikwete himself has publicly declared that he has no intention of engaging in private business while in public office. Government insiders say the president plans to introduce extensive and drastic changes in the way politics are conducted in Tanzania, the aim being to restore the peoples trust in politicians. When addressing Parliament in August this year, the president announced that the government will in January next year table a bill aimed at enforcing the separation of politics and business. He said by the 2010 general elections, would-be politicians will be asked to make a clear choice between serving the people or pursuing personal financial gain.