Saturday, July 01, 2006

TZ Bunge: Toothless and Powerless?

I am away from Columbus today. As this is the weekend leading to the July 4th holiday, I have decided to go on a country trek, chilling and relaxing in the South - Nashville Tennessee. Nonetheless, I could just not help but continue reflecting on the Bongoland life, particularly on the effectiveness of our esteemed Bunge.

I am of the opinion that our Bunge may be the most ineffective pillar of three branches (executive, judicial and legislative) of leadership in the country. That could be due to historical factors, mainly suffering from the hangover of the single party system. See, in the old system, there was no clear distinction between the roles of the parliament, government and Chama. As such, both the parliament and the government were primarily working for the interest of Chama.

Fast forward 2006. The political climate in Tanzania has changed. Nonetheless, we still have the same mentalities that prevailed in 1980. That is due to the fact that we still have some of the wabunge in 1980 in the Bunge today. These fellas still have the mentality of the 1980 Tanzania. These fellas still view the Bunge as a institution to serve CCM instead of the people [The proof of that reality is the fact that almost all of the ministers are representatives, clouding the line between the legislative and the executive branches].

I do agree that wabunge are the representative of their party's ideology. As such they are mandated and required to stand for what their political party stands for. Nonetheless, when it comes to the relationship between the parliament, government, and the judiciary system, I am of the opinion that there shouldn't be any unnecessary compromise. Each unit should work to bring the ideal "checks and balances". Unfortunately, it appears that our Bunge has been doing alot of comprising - yielding to the political pressures from the government, to the point that the Bunge is seemingly "useless".

To the contrary of the Bunge, the judiary wing in Tanzania seems to understand its role and obligations. In properly interpreting the constitution and hence deciding both against the takrima rule and allowing for private candidates, for instance, the mahakama has really demonstrated its maturity. How I wish the Bunge also could come of age!

Theoritically and politically, wabunge would tell you how effective they are. Nonetheless, I am of the opinion that our Tanzanian Bunge has practically demonstrated that it doesn't know its position in the "checks and balances" equation. The proof of that is the fact that the government "refused" to bring forth the details of the contract between itself and the Kilimanjaro Airports Development Company (KADCO) for the review of the esteemed wabunge [Read the story here ]. Guess what? I didn't hear any mbunge vehemently putting up a fight against the government's stand.

As lawmakers and representatives of wananchi, our wabunge should have the right to access any contract entered to for the benefits of the mass. Another example that depicts that lack of power, is the fact that we hardly hear of a bill drafted by the Bunge itself. I mean, why would the government draft and present the bills for the Bunge to rubber stamp? If the Bunge is a legislative wing, shouldn't it have the power to draft and approve bills that it feels are important for the legal and operational matters of the country?

Unless I am misguided, the history and the functioning of the Bunge has made me to conclude that we have the weakest parliament. I have no information to conclude whether the Bunge's weakness is by design or by ignorance, but surely we have a seemingly toothless and powerless Bunge. I am yet to be proven wrong...but waiting.

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