CCM divided over Chenge welcome 2008-05-10 11:11:56 By Hannah Mwandoloma and Angel Navuri CCM secretary general Yusuf Makamba has described the official welcome home accorded to former Infrastructure Development minister Andrew Chenge when he went to his Bariadi West constituency this week as a sign of how the legislator is accepted by his electorate. Chenge visited his Bariadi West constituency on Wednesday for the first time since he resigned last month following allegations that he had illegally deposited USD 1 billion in a foreign country. The money was suspected to have been part of a hefty kickback for sanctioning the controversial radar deal which was paid to senior leaders in Tanzania by a British firm. According to press reports, CCM Mwanza regional secretary Rajab Kundya said that the warm reception accorded to the former Infrastructure minister had been organized to sympathise with him and congratulate him for his brave decision to resign. CCM Mwanza regional chairman Clement Mabina and other party cadres were reported to have been in the former minister`s motorcade which drove all the way from Mwanza to Bariadi on Tuesday. On arrival in Bariadi, Chenge was received by CCM Shinyaga regional chairman Hamisi Mgeja and Bariadi district commissioner Baraka Konisaga, according to a newspaper report. He becomes the second former minister to have been accorded an apparently heroic reception in his home area shortly after being disgraced. In February, former prime minister Edward Lowassa was also given a heroic welcome in his Monduli constituency soon after resigning after being implicated in a multi-billion-shilling power generation contract scandal. Speaking to this paper yesterday, the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi Secretary General Yusuf Makamba said there was nothing wrong for CCM to throw a big welcoming party for Chenge. He said both Chenge and Lowassa were still Members of Parliament and their voters still counted on them. ``What is so surprising about the warm reception given to Chenge and Lowassa? These people have decided to go back home where they belong. Their voters are happily welcoming them. Why shouldn�t they be happy to see them?`` Makamba said during a telephone interview. He said the two ministers were innocent until proven guilty and their voters were congratulating them for the wise decisions to resign from their ministerial positions. ``The investigations are underway. Since we have not been given any proof of their guilt, we count them as clean,`` he said. When contacted, CCM Vice Chairman (mainland) Pius Msekwa said he had no comments because he had not been among the people who welcomed Chenge and Lowassa. ``Why are you asking me? I was not there. Why don`t you ask those who organized those receptions?`` said Msekwa. CCM Publicity Secretary John Chiligati when reached for comments said if proven guilty, the two leaders would be punished by the party. ``For the time being, CCM cannot do anything to Chenge because the investigations are not yet over,� he said. ``Chenge is still our member. We cannot start judging him even before the probe is over,`` he added. However, some CCM legislators who spoke to this paper said grand receptions accorded to public leaders accused of corruption were a typical example of how some politicians could take advantage of poor voters. MP for Vunjo CCM Aloyce Kimaro said the warm reception organized by ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi for Chenge was wrong. He said CCM party in Shinyanga Region had taken advantage of the people`s poverty. ``I believe that involving ordinary citizens in this matter is improper. People are getting driven in because of their poverty,`` said Kimaro. Kimaro said CCM should think of where the party has come from and focus on its way forward. He said the party�s capital was the poor citizens who were being innocently involved in clearing politicians accused of corruption. He added that CCM members and party leaders should work together for the betterment of the party and at the end of the day; every one would reap what he had sown. ``If you do a good job then the fruits will show, but if you do a bad job, the results will come out accordingly,`` Kimaro said. The Busega CCM legislator, Dr Raphael Chegeni, said CCM should not try to clear people accused of corruption even before investigations were over. ``These huge receptions being given to people accused of being involved in grand corruption might end up sending the wrong picture to the people. One wonders why a grand welcome home party should be organised after one had resigned because of graft allegations,`` asked Chegeni. He said that such leaders should not use their money to buy the sympathy of their voters. ``I believe all these grand receptions we are witnessing are stage managed. They are prepared and paid for to fool the world,`` he said. Chenge`s convoy, which was apparently organized by CCM leaders in Mwanza, comprised 22 vehicles, including five buses, seven lorries and several small cars. It was escorted by 10 motorcycle riders. It was reported that a cow was slaughtered for the wananchi in each village where the motorcade passed. Allegations on Chenge were first reported by The Guardian newspaper of UK, which revealed that British investigators involved in a three-year inquiry over the controversial radar deal had located more than USD one million in an account owned by Chenge in Jersey, UK.