One of the richest men in Tanzania, Rostam Aziz owes the bulk of his fortune to his significant interest in Vodacom Tanzania, the country’s largest mobile phone company, which boasts almost 13 million subscribers and controls a 32% share of the market (Reuters, 20.04.2018). He also has business interests in the mining and construction sectors through Caspian Resources, boasts real estate in Dubai and Oman, and is rumoured to hold a stake in Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS), which operates the container terminal in the Port of Dar es Salaam (Forbes, 04.03.2014).

Despite his undeniable commercial awareness, Aziz owes much of his success to his relationship with Tanzania’s long-ruling CCM party.

Following the economic liberalization of the 1990s, the relationship between the CCM and prominent figures within the private sector flourished as the ruling party found itself increasingly in need of non-state financing.

Rostam Aziz was one of these many wealthy individuals who provided financial support to the CCM in the 1990s, as the party sought to diverse its funding sources. In fact, Aziz is believed to have been a major source of funding for the CCM, and is rumoured to have benefited from this altruism. However, he – along with several others including Mohammed Dewji – soon realised that they could further increase their influence by entering into politics directly, while still funding the increasingly powerful CCM.

However, Aziz appeared to have lost much of this power and influence when he resigned from his seat as a Member of the Tanzanian Parliament in 2011, beleaguered by allegations of corruption.

Under Tanzania’s much-publicised and ongoing anti-corruption drive – which started under former President Jakaya Kikwete but has accelerated under current President John Magufuli – Aziz appears to be content with remaining under the radar. But, as Magufuli’s popularity wanes, Aziz may seek this opportunity to return to politics.