ROW ERUPTS AFTER CONTROVERSIAL BUSINESSMAN IS TOUTED AS ONE OF NATION'S LEADING ROLE MODELS THISDAY REPORTER Dar es Salaam A ROW has exploded over the decision of organizers of an upcoming investment conference in Dar es Salaam to declare controversial businessman Yusuf Manji as a leading role model helping to shape Tanzania's future. The Economist Group, which is convening a much-hyped roundtable conference in the country on October 6 and 7 this year, lists Manji among ''people shaping Tanzania's future.'' Manji, Chief Executive Officer of Quality Group Limited, is scheduled to be one of the key speakers at the roundtable sponsored by Barrick Tanzania, Zain, Artumas Group and Coca-Cola. One of the key topics of discussion at the planned conference is aptly titled ''Is the government doing enough to tackle corruption?'' Sessions of the business roundtable will be led by President Jakaya Kikwete and senior government ministers, according to the organizers. ''The Economist's First Business Roundtable with the government of Tanzania offers you the opportunity to gain exclusive access to the country's top decision-makers and discuss its economic future with an international audience of high-level executives,'' says an advert for the conference published in The Economist's of September 13-19 issue of 2008. Manji, who faces a series of corruption allegations in Tanzania, has been highlighted as one of the key players in the nation's future economic success. The Secretary-General of the Opposition Chadema party, Dr Wilbroad Slaa, reacted angrily to the decision of The Economist to name the businessman as one of the 'nation's role models.' ''How can Manji be among people entrusted with our national economy and future well-being?'' he queried in an interview with THISDAY. ''It's very unfortunate that Manji is named as one of the people shaping this country's future ... We should make sure that people tainted with corruption (allegations) are not given such honours at forums,'' he added. The Karatu Member of Parliament, who is an outspoken critic of grand corruption, noted that Manji was just recently alleged to have been involved in the external payment arrears (EPA) scandal at the Bank of Tanzania. Among other things, the controversial businessman is also at the centre of a long-standing corruption investigation by the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) on a dubious 2004 deal involving the sale of overpriced godowns to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) for 47.5bn/-. Persistent questions also remain over another dubious deal between Manji's Quality Group Ltd and the Public Service Pension Fund (PSPF) involving the sale of Quality Plaza in Dar es Salaam for 36bn/-. Slaa slammed organizers of the conference for naming the businessman among the corporate speakers at the meeting, regardless of the various corruption allegations against him. ''The fact that Manji faces many corruption allegations in Tanzania should have been the first criteria not to include him in the list of people shaping our nation's future ... Organizers should seriously reconsider their decision,'' he insisted. Other notable senior government and corporate speakers to be joined by Manji at the gathering include the Minister for Infrastructure Development, Dr Shukuru Kawambwa, Energy and Minerals Minister William Ngeleja and the Minister for Industry, Trade and Marketing, Mary Nagu. Also in the list of key speakers at the upcoming conference are East African Co-operation Minister Diodorus Kamala and the Managing Director of Vodacom Tanzania Limited, Deitlof Mare. Other topics to be discussed during the gathering include the role of the private sector in tackling Tanzania's infrastructure bottlenecks, perceptions of new investors from China and India on the country, tourism development and diversification into new areas such as IT and telecoms.