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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dr. Sengondo Mvungi - Advocate of the People

Farewell Dr. Sengondo Mvungi, your work on behalf of the people speaks volume - we recall citing you below:

A revealing, albeit stereotypical explanation of the lack of full participation in village governance and decision-making, was noted by Sengondo E. Mvungi (2007) in his discussions with community leaders and CSO officials in Katesh. The discussants alleged that pastoralists did not know that it was important to elect pastoralist leaders into elective decision making organs of state. Instead, it was further alleged, the pastoralists elected agriculturalists in order to relieve themselves of the hustle of attending endless meetings instead of taking care of their herds. That is why when official policy and administrative decisions were made, the discussants concluded, these came as hailstorm upon pastoralists who were absent all the way, but involved – by default – in accordance with law. The following case illustrates why the alleged abdication by the pastoralists need to be investigated further given that the co-researcher observed how they participate passionately in hamlet/village meeting that discuss issues that really concern them:

In Katesh, officials in the District Council told us that pastoral community leaders had accepted that three of the wheat farms which were subject to court litigation be sold to liquidate debts, and two be divided one to pastoralists (Gawal) and the other (Warret) to agriculturalist. The so-called pastoralists and agriculturalist who were to benefit from the re-distribution of land were not those that had gone to court. Later when we spoke to community leaders they told us a different story. They said that the community leaders were not consulted. The Officials of the District council handpicked individuals from the villages, 17 in all and only 7 were pastoralist. They were hand picked just a day before the meeting and had no time to consult. The community leaders we spoke to expressed fears that this was done in order to allow part of the land to be allocated to some big fishes in the District Council. According to them they had to rise up in arms to prevent the parceling of the farms” (Sengondo E. Mvungi 2007:  21).[1]

Another issue of concern pertaining to participatory governance and decision-making is that of conflating ‘political statements’ with ‘legal provisions’ or with ‘governance directives.’ The co-researcher observed that there were cases where political statements made in political rallies or political platforms that had no authority whatsoever on a given matter were literarily adopted over and above binding legal provisions and/or governance directives on such a matter. In some cases, as it seemed to be the case when the MP of Hanang attending Ming’enyi Village Assembly on 12 November 2008, those statements are done in good faith as an attempt to prevent conflicts or fast-track the resolution of conflicts.


[1] In the parliamentary session of 14 August 2006 the MP of Hanang, Dr. Mary Michael Nagu, lamented that the debt of approximately Tsh 1.5 Billion that the District had inherited from Warret and Gawal farms was a heavy burden. Therefore she requested the then Ministry responsible for Empowerment to take transferable properties so that it can sell them and use that money to repay the debt, asserting that the capacity of the Hanang District Council to oversee the sale of those properties was limited. She also proposed that the task be given to the liquidator who sold the properties of other farms. The co-researcher observed people moving properties they bought in Gawal farm.

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