Thursday, June 29, 2006

TFF: Why I Support the Govt's Decision

Here we go again, Mabibi na Mabwana. For all y'all that have been thinking that this blog is solely dedicated to whipping the government to death, I have a surprise for you. Leo naifagilia serikali, si maajabu hayo? But when praise is due, let praise be given.

It is not that I am big fan of THIS DAY newspaper, but it just happened to run a story that caught my attention. The story was headlined "Govt ignores TFF, strikes Stars coach deal" [Read the entire story here].

In my view, the government's decision couldn't have been much better. Despite his better-than-Ndolanga job that Mr. Leodegar Tenga has done, I am afraid that he does not possess stellar leadership qualities (please refer to my post on June 27, 2006) that are desired for such an "important" organization as TFF.

For those who have been following the coach hiring story, you can agree with me that TFF has made all the wrong moves. First, they were VERY slow in acting to the government offer. Ridiculously, Mr. Tenga could not even give the government a timely update on their search progress. I mean, walitaka Serikali iwape nini? Gunia la chawa?. If TFF could not "appreciate" the government's offer and act on it with an unbelievable speed, then I can just conclude that something is very amiss, from a leadership standpoint, in the mind of Mr. Tenga and his team at TFF.

Secondly, when TFF finally acted on the government offer, they went extremely overboard. The TFF's proposal of a Brazilian coach Julio Ceasar Leal and others, would have costed the government a whopping TShs 662m/- for 15 months. That figure, in USD, would have been roughly $44,000 on a mothly basis. Si bora tumlipe hata Charles Mkwasa $5,000 kwa mwezi? Guess what? The government finally figured out hawa watu wanaleta za kuleta. The government "fired" TFF and employed the services of international recruiting agencies [Read here ].

I am not sure whether the hired Brazilian Coach Marcio Maximo will do wonders and bring Tanzania to soccer glories, given the fact that other foreign coaches have been hired only to be frustrated by the work ethic of both players and TFF officials. Nonetheless, that is a topic of itself. For now, I can only cherish the fact that the government has made a swift, good decision. For that, the government has my "vote"....

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Mentoring: A Lacking Tradition Among Bongolanders?

One of the keys to success in life, I believe, is to have a life "coach" or a mentor. A mentor is a person with certain experiences which the "learner" (mentee) is missing. Such experiences could vary, but they typically include educational and career experiences. The objective of mentoring is to ensure that the mentee will be in a position to succeed, without necessarily going through all the pitfalls of bad choices.

I am writing about mentoring today because of my own personal frustrations. See, I have this young man in Tanzania who just finished his A Level studies. Being a close relative, I have been trying to steer him towards the right direction based on my past experiences. Nonetheless, my efforts have been coming across some major snags. It appears the young man is not willing to listen. The problem, I have come to realize, is not that he is still young. The problem is that he has grown (just like I grew up) in an environment where mentoring is not a nurtured culture.

As such, almost all of us grew up trying to figure out the secrets of life on our own. We grew up fumbling through life, making wrong choices along the way. Most of us can agree to the fact that where we ended being in life - careerwise or otherwise - is almost accidental (This argument is ignoring God's devine plan for our life, but focusing on our personal choice within our control). There wasn't a deliberate design or plan to get here. We had a desire or goal, but we didn't know how to achieve our goals. But I believe that had we had mentors, for most of us life could have been much easier.

I want to place my blame on our parents and our culture as a whole. I know of many Bongoland fathers who never spend time with their sons or daughters, trying to mentor them and steer them in the right direction. I know how difficult it is to have a conversation with your father in the Bongoland context just to figure out life questions, because the response would almost always be: we mtoto toka hapa maswali yote ya nini, huoni nasoma gazeti? Nenda kacheze nje! ( A lifetime opportunity for someone to learn wasted) Or better yet, most of us would dare not ask for directions in Dar-es-Salaam, for you will almost get a look (if not verbally uttered) that speaks louder : we mshamba nini? So most people grow up being afraid to ask questions and identify a mentor to learn from. We end up learning from friends who are facing the same plight.

Lack of a mentor could cause someone to learn unnecessarily the hard way. I have seen a couple of my Bongolanders here in Columbus "suffer" because of lack of mentoring. For instance, I have observed a trend : Someone goes to Franklin University, graduates and then continue to pay a whole lot of dough to DeVry University for their graduate studies. Well, my convinction is that no one (especially those who have performed well in their undergraduate studies, with exception of "prestigious" programs such as Law or MBA) should pay for their graduate education. There are tons of Universities that do offer full or modified assistantship. All you have to do is position yourself right. The problem is that most of the Bongoland young men and women have no mentors to guide them through. They end up learning from friends who have taken similar wrong paths.

I am not claiming to know it all, but I have had my own share of frustrations in my career due to the fact that I didn't have a mentor. Imagine having to figure out the dos and don'ts at your workplace on your own. By the time you have figure out what not to do, most likely will be out of the door already - fired. Or worst, by the time you figure it out, you are too old to make amends.

For you who have most of your relatives in the vijiji vya ujamaa, you can relate to this. Just make a trip back to your village from the United States. Most of the people there would almost be interested in your few dollars than the most important thing: your mind. No one will ever ask you to take their son or daughter under your wing for mentoring, but they will surely ask you for financial assistance to solve a problem, whose source in reality, is just ignorance. And that is a typical story everywhere, even some of the washikaji you left hustling in Dar will almost always never ask you to mentor them, despite your exposure and experience.

I just wish that Bongolanders could embrace the power of mentoring...for some of our personal struggles are due to lack of a proper life coach.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tenga's "Lesson" and Its Implications...

Recently, THIS DAY newspaper ran a story under the headline "Tenga "wiser" after German stint" [ Read the article here]. In brief, the story was giving an account of what Leodegar Tenga, the TFF boss, learned from his experience at the World Cup tournament, currently hosted by Germany.

What drew my attention to the story, which I thought was worth musing on, was the fact that the "lessons" that Mr. Tenga learned were just basic ideas, proving my previous cry that we truly lack quality leadership in almost all "public" institutions.

In his own words, this is what Mr. Tenga learned from Germany: "...I learned that staging a big event is not a one-man show. To make it a success, you need to form several committees with strick instructions to follow".

Well, I do have respect for Tenga, for under his leadership TFF has done well in comparison to what Ndolanga's leadership was all about. Nonetheless, the above observation makes me wonder : Does Mr. Tenga really know what he is doing at TFF? Is he capable of leading that organization to achieve its objectives? How does Mr. Tenga run things at TFF?

See, the reason I am asking those questions is due to the fact that the organization of the World Cup tournament didn't bring anything new to the principles of leadership. Just like any event, I am convinced the organisers just applied the principles that we already have. Those principles should be known to anyone who calls himself or herself a leader, especially a leader of an organization such as TFF.

The application of those principles, whether formally or informally, is done in all walks of life, even in Bongo. As such, Mr. Tenga didn't have to go all the way to Germany to learn those principles. For instance, just observe how ulaji is organized during weddings in Bongo. Committees are formed and specific assignments are delegated to committee members. There are folks assigned to make sure that unywaji will be adequate and the DJ will show up, for instance. So if the highlight of what Mr. Tenga learned in Germany is how to organize events, then I wonder if he has adequate leadership qualities to run TFF. It just depicts how pathetic our leadership condition is in Tanzania.

I don't like to dwell my blog too much on quality leadership, but I believe that lack of it has been one of the MAIN reasons Bongoland is still lagging behind other African nations. Angola's population is roughly 14 million, while that of Togo is around 5 million (compare that to a whopping 38 million "thinking" heads in Bongoland), but those folks managed to participate in the World Cup finals. The main reason for their success, I believe, is because they have nailed down some basic scientific leadership principles, not Bagamoyo "principles".

If Mr. Tenga didn't learn anything new in Germany other than fundamental principles, then mark this reality - Bongoland will never participate in the World Cup finals, ever.

Monday, June 26, 2006

In Love of My Country

I do understand that my previous postings have been a little critical and to a greater extent, politically incorrect. But why did I do that? It is all in the love of my country...

See, sometimes we have to give tough love. Loving ain't about sweet words all the time. Those who are parents can relate - those young fellas we call our kids need our tough love at times. We stroke, rebuke and even impose some "economical sanctions" on them, all in the name of love.

My desire, like many Tanzanians, is to see the country stand tall - prosperous, vibrant, and above all the best country ever. The problem, as we all know, has been some erratic thinking and not lack of resources (oh what plenty of resources we have!). My criticism or rather challenge towards the Bongoland leadership is intended to provide a different perspective. My objective is to push them a little harder, because I know Tanzania can get better - only with a change in attitude and better thinking. My criticism shouldn't be viewed as being unpatriotic.

See, being patriotric is not about blindly following the wrong path. I am convinced a true patriot is the one who has the guts to tell the "establishment" that the path they've chosen is not necessarily the right one. The problem is that most of us grew up at times when a unique and a different point of view was regarded as a "sin". To some extent, we are still suffering from the culture of "singularity" in thinking. As such, some of us are still afraid to air our true feelings and ideas.

I am not proclaiming to be right at all times, because I am limited in my experiences. I have not experienced all things and all places that this world has to offer. Nonetheless, I have been honest enough with myself to boldly express what I see. Like the rest of humanity, I do not like to be rebuked or to be corrected, but over time I've learned to appreciate those who boldly tells me what to change in me, despite my dislike of being rebuked. The bottom line is that those who truly loves you will never sugarcoat anything. As such, being politically incorrect at times could be the best choice in correcting the ills that have hampered Bongoland from making the desired strides. I know that no one is perfect and that it will be ridiculous of me to expect the leadership to be error free. Nevertheless, we can get better than what we have currently.

My challenge to the Bongoland leadership, therefore, does not make me less loving the country than Mr JK, the late Mr. JKN, or any Bongolander you can think of. I have only chosen to love the country through a whipping rod...and whipping we need sometimes.

Loving the country ever more...Metty.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

When the government has no clue...

The following excerpt is from the speech given by the Minister for Planning, Economy and Empowerment, Hon. Dr. Juma Ngasongwa, during his address to the National Assemby recently:

" Mr. Speaker, In order to realise the objectives of the National Development Vision 2025, we have to sustain the achievements attained during the Third Phase Government focusing on eradicating the obstacles faced by our people. During the Fourth Phase Government we shall have to be more careful in determining our priorities for attaining economic growth and reduction of poverty. Since our resources are limited we have to prioritise resource allocation in order to hasten our development. This will mean delaying some of our activities and providing others with funds that only meet the operational costs. The challenge facing us is to agree on those areas that should be given more priority in the allocation of resources. In order to be more successful in the implementation of our policies, plans and strategies, there is a need to improve methods for implementation, supervision, monitoring and evaluation of government policies, strategies, programmes and projects."

Well, I don't want to be so hard on the government, but the highlighted line kind of sent some chills down my spine. The question that the line raises are:

1) Don't we have a National Development Vision 2025?

2) Doesn't the vision spell out what the priorities are?

3) Who has to "agree" with the spending priorities, wananchi, MPs, ministers, or the president? I mean, what then is the meaning of having leadership in place?

4) If we still have to "agree" on the spending priorities, when will that happen?

My opinion is that the biggest problem we are facing in Tanzania is the quality of leadership. It is amazing that the minister of planning, presented a plan that has "holes" in it. I thought that the minister would have spelled out those "spending priorities" since those are under his jurisdiction.

I don't think it requires a rocket science to determine one's spending priorities, if the economic goals are clear and the strategies are well spelled out.

Kama hata Waziri hana uhakika wa maeneo ya matumizi yanayopewa kipaumbele, nani atajua? Unless I took the speech out of context, this shows how far Bongoland has to still go in achieving its economic goals

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Teachers' Recruitment: Lack of Common Sense?

The current news regarding Bongoland education is that the government has drown a short-term plan (or better suitably a zima moto plan) to recruit about 3,500 students holding an advanced certificate in secondary education to undergo a one month training, with the expectation that these young men and women would fill the government's demand for more secondary school teachers.

The strategy could be viewed by many as brilliant, particularly by those school kids who are in a dire need of having someone called a teacher to quench their thirst for information and knowledge ( I can't blame them). Nonetheless, the move smells of more trouble than the projected success. The strategy, if anything, would only result into a short-term superficial success story.

My position is based on the past similar experiences that resulted in a disappointing outcome. The government, in its bid to curb similar shortage of teachers that primary schools experienced in the past, embarked on a Universal Primary Education (UPE) drum beats. In the execution of the plan, the government employed the services of "failed" standard seven leavers to teach, hoping these same fellas would enable our growing kids to achieve what they had failed to do. As it is uttered by one of the cartoon characters used by Guiness to advertised their beer (the commercial is aired in the United States), I would also sarcastically utter the same line: "Brilliant!". As it was later to be found, the "brilliance" of the UPE idea only turned into failure. Sadly, we are repeating the same mistake (the Minister for Education, Mrs. Sitta claims otherwise, but who wouldn't support their own initiative?)

It appears though, that the underlying problem is the failure of the Tanzania government to draw a clear, consistent policy on every key area, such as education and health. Consequently, a change in the personality (minister) leading those areas, typically result in a change in the ministry's vision (a typical example is the syllabus change that the Minister of Education during Phase III government brought into place, only to be scrapped by the subsequent leadership). That lack of clear and consistent policy has resulted in the failure of the government to formulate intelligent strategies in order to achieve its vision.

Another problem could be that our government is just so much in love with the zima moto approach. I setting up the Secondary Education Development Program (SEDP), the government surely knew the projected number of secondary schools to be increased. Isn't it a common sense approach to also draw a long-term plan to increase the number of teachers to cover the expected increase in the number of students? The government did not realize overnight that the there is a shortage of teachers, did they?

So here is the visionary and strategic problem with the current approach: Increasing the number of teachers would only solve a quantitive problem, but not a qualitive problem. My conviction is that a good educational system is the one that covers both the quantitative aspects - number of teachers, classrooms, textbooks etc, and the qualitative aspect - the qualification of teachers, context and content of the knowledge etc. As such, hiring "unprepared" young men and women to teach is a sure program to engage the educational quality in a free fall gear. My question would be: Was this a long-term vision of the Ministry of education when they formulated SEDP? If not, then somebody must have been smoking crack when the strategy of hiring A Level students to teach was initiated (given the government's knowledge of the past experiences).

Key question of the day: If the government knew, way back, that they were planning to increase the number of enrolled students in secondary schools, where was the corresponding plan to increase the number of teachers?

Vitu vingine ni "common sense", lakini inaonekana "common sense" inawapiga chenga viongozi wetu...hasa wa hii Wizara ya Elimu. If you have consistently failed to use common sense, I am justified to call you an idiot.

Note: I understand that the current Ministry of Education's leadership could be trying to clean up the mess created in the past. I also understand that the impromptu decisions made by the Prime Minister to enroll students could have pushed the Ministry of Education to the limit...nonetheless, I wonder if the future will be brighter given that failed strategies are being applied.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Why I hate the June budgeting...

Every June, the Tanzanian parliament unveils its budget for the next fiscal year. We all know that is the most awaited time by most Tanzanians. The main reason behind such a heightened expectation is due to the fact that the budget sets up the tone for what Tanzanians' lives would be like for the next 12 months. The Minister of Finance's budget not only highlights certain areas that will be heavily taxed, but also unearths "exciting" news such as salary and wage increases. As long as I can remember, this has been the tradition.

The problem, in my view, is that the tradition has crippled the Tanzanian economy. I know that my view could heavily receive madongo, but let me try to explain:

1. Setting up economic strategies and fiscal policies on an annual basis (every June) leads the country to become more reactive as opposed to being proactive in setting up its economic priorities. Increasing or decreasing tax rates on certain tax bases should be done in order to achieve a wider economic vision other than just meeting short-term revenue goals. Who knows what the Tanzanian broader fiscal policy is? Probably a few of us do, because the government keeps changing its priorities every year!

2. Furthermore, the practice of setting up fiscal policies on short-term basis creates a sense of uncertainty to the business community. For instance, how would a beer manufacture project its profitability for the next five years if excise tax on beer keeps on changing every June? How could a regular mwananchi plan and budget for the life expenditures while they don't know for sure how much money they would be paying for one trip of daladala in the next 9 months (we all know a 10% increase in wages only results in 20% commodity price increase)?

What I would suggest:

1. Set up a broader, articulated fiscal and economic policy that is widely known. Stick by it unless global economic realities forces you to change it or you find something better.

2. Set up spending priorities, so that wananchi will know which areas are given tight focus for the next 5-10 years. Articulate the reasons for setting up those spending priorities (most likely to meet the set economic goals and social goals).

3. Utilize the June time to ONLY evaluate last year's budget - whether it achieved its objectives and to identify reasons for failure - and to ascertain that the planned spending for the coming year meets the broader fiscal and economic policy and appropriation priorities. Use this time also to evaluate economic policies and government strategies - both long- and short-term in meeting economic goals.

A budget is just a prepared document to articulate the sources of funds and how those funds are going to be spent. Given that fact, it is not worth it to see a mbunge pulling a shilling from a budget eti kwa sababu Wizara haijajenga barabara kwenda kwenye jimbo lake. Well, the problem is that the esteemed MP is left in the dark as to what the spending priorities are (which is kosa lao wenyewe, wangeibana Serikali kuweka bayana maeneo ya matumizi yanayopewa kipaumbele ili kukuza uchumi na maendeleo ya jamii). If they had known, they would have been in a position to understand that building a road going towards the MP's village is not in list of prioritized spending for the next 20 years....

But that is the way it is in Bongoland sometimes, isn't it?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

MPs "Cheap" Questions: Can We Reverse the Trend?

I was doing my regular rounds on the Bongoland media, and given the fact that it is time for the annual budget (which is another topic of itself: Why would we set fiscal policies every June? Isn't that a myopic view of economics? Anyways, this is for grabs another time), I noticed some of MPs' questions that I would grade as "cheap".

Let me break it down: One of the questions was brought forth by Hon. Bakar Samis Faki (Ole, CUF). The MP wanted to know how much money the National Investment Company (NICO) raised during the fiscal year 2004-2005. In addition to that, the MP wanted to know when the Company would distribute dividend. In response, the Deputy Minister for Finance, Mustapha Mkulo pointed out that the dividend would given out according to Act #212 governing registration of companies, which stipulates that the decision to distribute dividend is made by the Annual General Meeting (AGM) as per the company's constitution. Well said Mr. Mkulo.

As the above story indicates (which happens sooo many times), I would conclude that the MP's was nothing more than a "wastage" of his constituent's precious time. It gives the indication that our MPs spend little time doing research before formulating their questions. As a results, their questions seems, at least to my standards, "cheap". I mean, why wouldn't the MP just call NICO's management and ask all these questions directly? Furthermore, why wouldn't the MP spend his time to understand all the background information pertaining to their area of concern before making it public?

As that was not enough, another MP, Hon. Ahmed Shabiby (Gairo, CCM) wanted to know why NSSF does not openly disclose their financial statements. The truth of the matter is, NSSF openly displays their financial statements, even for the entire world to see. Just visit the NSSF's website site and you will agree with Minister Nsanzugwanko's response. Similar to the first incident, it appears the MP, Mr. Shabiby asked a question without first doing a research to establish the validity of his concerns. Consequently, he also "wasted" his constituent's time.

May it is just me, but I am of the opinion that the trend of asking ridiculous questions should be reversed. I understand that the trend came about as a matter of ill-formulated traditions, but I am a firm believer that improving what we do is the best option. As a matter of fact, I believe that Bunge should introduce disciplinary measures for MPs who do not properly do their homework. I believe that the introduction of such penalties would force MPs to be bring intelligent challenges to the government, instead of just filling in air time with some cheap and stupid questions. Isn't time that our respresentatives raise up their "game" a little bit? Haya mambo ya kuuliza maswali ili mradi wananchi wawaone wabunge kwenye luninga na kuwasoma magazeteni yamepitwa na wakati. And I firmly stand by that.

But the problem could be that some of these MPs are not adequately educated. Some of the MPs, for instance, holds only a Secondary Education certificate. I wonder if such MPs are capable of understanding the complexities of issues being tabled for discussions. Furthermore, I wonder if such MPs have the ability to help the government in pursuing policies and strategies that would spearhead Tanzania towards becoming a global competitor.

May be it is time to bring forth a requirement that MPs should at least have a graduate degree, otherwise we will continue to see a barrage of stupid questions from MPs.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tanzanian Government: You make me sick!

The following is a story that was published by Uhuru on June 13, 2006:
Halmashauri zilizopo migodini kuneemeka

Serikali yaagiza migodi ilipe sh. milioni 240 kwa mwaka Ni kulingana na mikataba iliyofikiwa kwa pamojaNa Lauden Mwambona na Simon Mkina, Dodoma.
SERIKALI imeziagiza kampuni zote za madini nchini kulipa dola 200,000 sawa na sh. milioni 240 kila mwaka kwa halmashauri zilizopo maeneo hayo ili kutekeleza mikataba kama ilivyoelekeza siku nyingi.Waziri wa Nishati na Madini Dk. Ibrahim Msabaha alisema hayo alipokuwa akijibu swali la nyongeza James Lembeli (Kahama-CCM) aliyetaka kujua kama wananchi walio karibu na migodi wanafaidikaje na migodi hiyo.
Dk. Msabaha alisema agizo hilo lilitolewa na Waziri Mkuu Edward Lowassa alipokutana na wamiliki wa migodi mbalimbali nchini hivi karibuni. Alisema, kimsingi, agizo hilo lilikuwepo, lakini wenye migodi walikuwa wanazembea kutoa fedha hizo ambazo zipo kwa mujibu wa mikataba. Pamoja na agizo hilo, serikali pia inatarajia kukutana na wamiliki wote wa migodi ya madini kuanzia mwanzoni mwa mwezi ujao ili kuwafafanuliwa zaidi mipango ya serikali. Dr. Msabaha alisema mkutano huo utafanyika kuanzia Julai Mosi hadi Julai 2 na kwamba serikali itatoa msimamo wake juu ya suala la madini.
Kuhusu swali la msingi la Lembeli aliyetaka kujua mipango ya serikali kuhusu kuwalipa fidia wananchi wa maeneo ya Mwime kata ya Mwendakulima ambao maeneo yao yamegundulika kuwa na dhahabu na uchimbaji unatarajia kuanza, Naibu Waziri wa Nishati na Madini, Lawrence Masha alisema, kampuni iliyogundua madini bado haijapata leseni na kwamba wakiamua kuanza kazi lazima watalipa fidia kwa wananchi. Masha alisema serikali kwa upande wake kupitia Halmashauri tayari ilishaunda kamati ya kushughulikia kazi ya kuwafidia wananchi wa eneo hilo itakapoanza.
If I was among wananchi who like to be emotionally carried away when our Tanzanian leaders give a speech that appears to be full of hope, I could have just zipped it up and kept my mind shut. Nonetheless, this story is a depiction of how irresponsible our government is.
The admission by Dr. Msabaha that the mining companies were not paying, as per the contract, the sum of $240m/- to Halmashauris is just a sad story. My questions would be:
1. Who is responsible for enforcing the terms of the contracts to ensure that the mining companies are adhering to those terms?
2. What are the penalties for failure of the mining companies to honour the contracts?
3. For how long have these annual payments been outstanding? Is the government going to force the mining companies to pay ALL the outstanding amounts?
Wandugu, I don't know about you. Nevertheless, I get sick to the stomach when stuff like this happens. This just shows that what we have is not REAL poverty, but an ARTIFICIAL proverty resulting from ignorance and irresponsibility of our leaders. With a guarantee of revenue stream of Tshs. 240m annually, I can only visualize a very economically advanced Kahama township, given the funds would be properly utilized.
Jamani, mimi roho inachefuka kwa haya mambo ya kienyeji ya bongo..

Just thought this was funny...


Some African mothers won't let up. They have to push, push and push for their dreams (lived through their children) to materialize.

I just thought this was funny...

But that's not the funniest, check this other pushy mother who wouldn't keep her knuckles in control..

Smile on..