Gaddafi “gifts” to Tanzania in limbo
Embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, may be a worldwide villain today, but his legacy looms large in Tanzania where he is getting backing from people whose lives he has touched in some way or the other.
Were the eccentric leader to be driven out of power by a popular public revolt currently sweeping his oil-rich country, he would not be without Tanzanian sympathisers, who hail his support for the needy as testimony of his good leadership.
The collapse of the regime in Tripoli would also likely raise apprehension over several projects, worth billions of shillings, that Gaddafi had promised to implement in several African countries including Tanzania.
The Libyan leader, for instance, had committed to establish an ultra-modern complex, Mosque and College in Dar es Salaam after a successful example in Dodoma. A foundation stone for the Dar es Salaam centre was laid last year by retired President Ali Hassan Mwinyi.
One of the believers in Gaddafi’s leadership is the Chief Sheikh for Dodoma Region, Mustapha Rajab Shabaan, who also doubles as the manager of the $4,081,632.7 million Gaddafi Education Centre and Mosque located in the city.
The imposing 3,000 capacity facility, inaugurated last year by President Jakaya Kikwete, is a picturesque architecture; the only one of its kind in the country and only rivalling the one Col Gaddafi also built and opened in Uganda over a year ago.
The Dodoma mosque and centre is thus a constant reminder of the hitherto great efforts that went into anything that Libya, and Gaddafi in particular, undertook to roll out either in his endeavour to serve humanity or seek loyalty far and wide.
Tanzania’s Citizen on Saturday sought to establish the fate of activities at the Dodoma centre and the proposed Dar es Salaam complex in case the rebels succeeded in bringing to an end his 42 years of uninterrupted reign.
“It is true there is currently a problem to access entry into Libya; but because of the government’s working relations with foreign governments, we do not believe anything going on there will affect much of what we receive,” observed Sheikh Shabaan.
The Muslim leader said several parties, including other denominations that are benefitting from the Gaddafi facility in Dodoma and the government, have been extending invaluable support.
“What Colonel Gaddafi did here was for all humanity and the goodwill that we receive will sustain the centre,” said the Sheikh, who received his four years study in Libya. He noted that the cost of running the centre was about $6.802.7 every month in salaries and other expenses.
He said any help that they received was not from the Libyan leader personally, but through the World Islamic Call Society (WICS) that was established in that country to work with many other people around Africa and elsewhere to reach out to the needy. The WICS Secretary General, Dr Muhammad Ahmed Sharrif, was among those who witnessed the opening of the Dodoma mosque and conveyed a congratulation message from President Gaddafi.
“The society is stable because it is a reputed Islamic institution worldwide and it is our hope that, God willing, we will continue working together. It is through this organ that many outstanding mosques and learning centres have been built to serve.”
According to Sheikh Shabaan, the crisis in Libya would come to pass, as Gaddafi has reiterated that the evil forces conspiring to destabilise his country would be doomed. He said Col Gaddafi had the power to quell the uprising because he had the backing of Libyan people who have benefitted from his government’s commitment to uplift their lives.
Other than the mosque, the Gaddafi Centre in Dodoma has enrolled nearly 300 students in various courses, including Arabic language, tailoring, computer skills and studies in the Muslim doctrines.
A Libyan national and Arabic language professional, Mr Khamis Ali Barawa, has been seconded to the centre. The construction of the premises that also comprises a dispensary began in 2007 and was completed in January 2010. However, Sheikh Shabaan said services at the dispensary had not begun due to incomplete preparations.
In Dar es Salaam, officials of the National Muslim Council of Tanzania (Bakwata) did not wish to comment on the fate of the planned ultra-modern complex and college in view of the uprising in Libya. The multi-billion project that would also serve as Bakwata headquarters, was expected to begin any time.
The Bakwata Secretary General, Mr Suleiman Saidi Lolila, The Citizen on Saturday: “We will go on with the project as planned. Muslims who want to know the progress should raise the matter in the mosques,” he said.
Other than matters of faith and education, Libya has wide commercial interests in the East Africa region, with huge investments in various sectors such as telecommunication, tourism and manufacturing in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
Not any of such commercial interest has been openly raised in Tanzania even though the Libyan Government has currently sued Tanzania over an outstanding debt of $101 million in issues revolving around oil.