Tuesday, July 10, 2018



Richard Mbunda, UDSM

There is a notion out there that does not sound so good for a leader in a democratic society. They say JPM doesn’t listen, he heeds no advice and that is it! He’s got it all. He has nothing to learn.... and all sorts of comments. 

Well, I want to say this again, that this notion is polarizing, dividing and at best demoralizing. We are used to some wishful exquisite attributes of a leader. We want to characterize leaders as charismatic, eloquent (because leaders ought to persuade their followers) and transformative. That’s all we want to hear: The ability of leaders to inspire their followers to behave beyond their self-interests; for the benefit of the wider social group-the nation.

Of recent, our beloved President has received sticks. Apart from the opposition leaders, of whom Zitto Kabwe deserves an inimitable credit, statements issued by the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and, most recently, the Muslim Statement, should not be ignored. If you ask me, this is a genuine poll, which is naturally representative for two good reasons. 
First, they are all talking about more or less similar issues. They reiterate lack of freedom of expression, arbitrary arrests, persecutions, disappearances, extrajudicial killings and economic hardship. Hear me Oh Tanzania! Religious leaders are probably the best economists to gauge our situation because they also collect donations. I cannot stop wondering how the voluntary donations and tithe are dwindling... Second, we all belong to one religion or the other. And we interact with these religious leaders every day. They know our problems and they speak for us. We speak. We can in no way ignore them. Their message is REAL.

Oh! Sweet Lord, who says JPM doesn’t listen? As recent as last week, and out of free will, he convened a special meeting with former national leaders at the State House. For me, this is a big thing. It is the learning curve I am talking about! Because JPM knew what was coming from the [retired] politicians. He wanted to confirm the credibility of the noises that have been doing the round ever since he took office. Actually, former President BWM made this clear, that the notion that it’s only from him JPM has chosen to listen to, is wrong. Wrong or not wrong, I see a learning curve, and that’s the point I want to make.
What did the political gurus say? I hear you BWM. In your voice that used to send shockwaves when I was an undergraduate student, you put it precisely... advising JPM to stop personalizing his administration. You say, you want to hear the Fifth Phase Administration identifying itself as the CCM government and that the sitting President has been put in power by CCM. You believe it has effects on the morale of the followers as we are gunning for the 2020 elections. Alas! 

What a vision! It’s only a few months away! Apparently, you are appalled by statements such as ‘my administration’; ‘my government’; and you probably didn’t go as far as saying ‘hakuna aliyeniweka hapa’ ‘mimi nimewekwa na Mungu’.... although I subscribe to the last statement.

There was also a rare appearance of former chiefs of that key branch of the state, dealing with the administration of justice. Their advice was spot on! Ensure a smooth dispensation of justice in your administration. One former Chief, who I hear is also a Pastor, tells you rightly, that peace is a product of justice, whereas without justice there is no peace. Your assistants, such as Ministers, Regional and District Commissioners ought to observe justice in their capacity if Tanzania is to maintain the most valuable item on earth, and that is, peace.
Probably what the other former Chief said is essentially vital! Rule of law. Mr. President, all Tanzanians congratulate you on the developmental initiatives your administration is embarking on, including the recently acquired Dreamliner 787-8. Mr. President, you have achieved a lot in only two years. We are a proud country because of you. And I wish to get my salary arrears so that I can plan a family trip somewhere with the Dreamliner.... Oh, never mind that!

However, in accordance with this former Chief, all our development efforts must be within the rule of law. It is inexcusably absurd to see the way the observance of rule of law is deteriorating in the country! And I won’t comment on the statements that you see leaders issuing in the local TVs Chief... always off the mark! Oh yeah, we all get disappointed, but thank you for this very important remark, and peace be with you!

And look who is here! Former premier, Chair of that Committee whose good work could not see the light... I hear you saying that many good efforts are done to fight corruption, drug trafficking and ghost workers and the like. But you are concerned that, such abhorred practices are likely to come back in future because no institutions are built to ensure continuation of the efforts. It’s a question of sustenance of the efforts which automatically require institutionalization. 
It’s like saying, JPM, we cannot be sure your successor will embrace your spirit! Implied, Mr. Former Premier, you are telling the Commander-in-Chief that we need a new constitution that will accommodate the required institutions to further the agenda which he has initiated. The presence of great thinkers, like this former Premier, made this meeting not only special, but also extraordinarily crucial. 

At this point I don’t want to be analytical. Why would I? Because I don’t want to recap what JPM said about advice from former national leaders, and his example of Mr. Trump versus Mr. Obama. Of course, he had to say something, anything. It’s human nature to kick when you are attacked. Just like in wrestling, even when you are hard hit, you can’t yield in easily. But you accept you are hit. And this is what JPM finally did.... to accept the advice, and promise to work on it. 

May this article serve as a reminder to you- Your Excellency! The Bible wants us to be forever students and there is no end to learning. And Proverbs 20:15 says "Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel". Mr. President, you had rare jewels in that very special and extraordinary meeting. And what is more pleasing for me is that, I see a learning curve. Heed to their advice. 

Viva our President! God bless Tanzania! Amen!


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