TANZANIA: EAST AFRICAN “ZIMBABWE”
By Dennis Biashara
My long memory doesn’t recall anything worse than what our country is going through right now and I have been struggling to get adjectives that can best describe the political.,
Social and economic situation in Tanzania. With just a few months into JK’s last 5years of “MAISHA BBORA” accompanied by a new set of promises: BAJAJ for pregnant mothers, “Machinga “ complex and flyovers ( coming on top of JK’s prority list), problems are coming thick and fast with the government making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The disappointing conclusion of the October 2010 general elections conducted in circumstances only few can forget seems to have opened a new political page though, with the opposition growing from strength to strength and the month – watering prospect of having a new constitution in place.
In what neutrals considered a crime against democracy, the constitutionally most trusted lips of Justice Liwis Makame, the National electoral commission Boss announced CCM’s JK the winner and the whole election thing was done and dusted. Then people were anxious to see how the House would operate minus Samuel Sitta at the helm. Whether his removal by Makamba and CO was, with all due respect, the executive’s attempt to insulate itself against Vuvuzela like noise from the parliament is beyond me but we have already Witnessed drama. No doubt JK’s heart did a somersault when CHADEMA MPS adopted “walk out” tactics during his inaugural address to the parliament. Then english - shy Sophia Simba got a unanimous nod to represent Tanzania MPS to SADC though I can barely recall anything like SADC adopting Kizalamo as one of their official languages and now Mrema chairs one of parliamentary committees even though it is common knowledge that the man is pretty past his expiry date.
No sooner had election dust settled than disaster struck. The ICC verdict demanding TANESCO to compensate DOWANS for breach of contract was out and along with it came the announcement of long spells of uninterrupted electrical blackouts throughout the country.
Consequently, nearly every one in TZ is understandably talking about DOWANS and I wasn’t surprised when I went to Dar-er-saalam recently and my 4 year old first born Denilson could pronounce “DOWANS” with embarracing ease.
As the country was sinking deeper and deeper into the mire, the DOWANS saga had JK’s administration and his cabinet in particular split with ministers operating as individuals rather than a collective unit. The moment DOWANS crept in, collective responsibility and coordination went out the window. Apparently no one knows DOWANS’ owners despite the shocking minister of energy and the Attorney general’s appetite for immediate compensation of DOWANS there by allowing a whopping 94 billion shs to go down the drain. What baffles me is why the duo are still holding their offices even after the president’s ham – fisted pronouncement that his government would legally do whatever it takes to protect the financially troubled TANESCO from dishing out all that money to compensate people he himself doesn’t know about. Surprisingly this was in stark contrast to the Attorney general’s advice and CCM’s central committee of which Rostam Aziz, a man who’s in the thick of this cleverly woven set up is a member and could easily unravel the mystery of the DOWANS thing.
And then we have just seen the form four academic disaster. JK’s government might as usual be contemplating an enquiry commission but this is easy to explain though hard to take. You don’t get mangoes from an orange tree. It has taken a couple of years for the fact to sink in that Lowassa’s scheme for the mushrooming secondary school was headed for a flop. Building secondary schools without the necessary provision of qualified teachers and equipment doesn’t solve the problem. In the first place, these schools are understaffed and a few teachers you see in the most primitive villages are as lethargic as villagers themselves with their faces suggesting they are perhaps the most dispirited and demotivated individuals on earth. It appears Lowassa and his CCM colleagues had only numbers (quantity) in mind as incentive and quality still remain alien concepts.
Consequently, the recent Form Four results are by any standard catastrophic to say the least.
Then the question springs to mind: where will the form four dropouts go? Evidently no one within CCM ranks can respond to that but since they don’t posses any employable skills, thieving and prostitution industry are the most likely destinations for these youngsters.
Additionally, our economy is limping although the Bank of Tanzania Boss, like someone offering a glass of salt water to a thirsty man, came up with statistics suggesting the economy was doing fine. The problem with professors is they think we should always trust then whenever they speak. Even my homeboy professor Mukandala still thinks his REDET has to be trusted although there’s a fine line between REDENT’s findings and SHEIKH YAHAYA’s predictions. In truth, you don’t need economic expertise to tell how badly our economy is doing. While the government ‘s response to the police after the job well done in Arusha was to squeeze their allowances which to me suggests the government treasury is nearly in the RED, the sky rocketing inflation is already in double figures and the local currency (Tsh) is as worthless as yesterday’s MTAZANIA paper.
I almost laughed my lungs out when my old friend, Mr. Clause Msemwa told me : “ You need to own a money printing machine to survive in Dares-Salaam as money disappears faster than it enters peoples pockets”.
On the evidence of what I have seen, we need divine intervention otherwise Tanzania will degenerate into East African “Zimbabwe” albeit without sanctions.
While corruption which is at its most devastating and ugly form is spreading faster than HIV, foreigners get shocked when they learn with envious eyes and disbelief how potentially prosperous Tanzania is. The country is unbelievably blessed with lots of natural resources Tanzania is the third largest producer of gold in Africa, let alone tanzanite diamonds and an awful lot of tourist attractions including African’s highest point Mount Kilimanjaro plus thousands of acres of untilled land. These resources have not provided the required momentum for progress because the leaders we have today got their priorities wrong. They put their stomach and pockets ahead of the national interests; drawing satisfaction from stolen dollars stashed in overseas accounts.
The irony of our misfortune is that this is the place where man kind originated. Fossils discovered over 3 million years by anthropologists suggest the evolution of man from his ape-like ancestors probably took place in Tanzania.
I got surprised when Dr.Mwinyi and others in CCM ranks described the Gongolamboto tragedy as “accident” and it is hard to argue with them because CCM’s Makamba would definitely spring up with his biblical quotations. I dot not believe in “luck” or “accident”. All I know is there’s always a cause for whatever happens. Sadly for CCM, casualty; cause –effect relationship are perhaps the most difficult concepts to grasp.
Now that CCM are not only split but also running out of ideas, the most likely scenario is for people themselves to improvise and bring the country back to its feet.
If what is happening right now cannot convince CCM that they are not doing their job properly then nothing else will but my advice is to remind them that the primary role of the government is to protect its citizens.
Finally, these are purely my views period. Whatever the politicians will think of me is the least of my worries.
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