Tuesday, August 15, 2006

MPs as Ministers: An Ingredient for Ineffectiveness

The President's appointment of ministers from a pool of elected or appointed members of parliament is a constitutional matter and has been a tradition as long as I can remember. I am not sure as to why the appointment of ministers have been set up this way, but I can only speculate that whoever made the decision - most likely JKN - wanted to ensure that ministers are "accepted" by the wananchi. That is, JNK's thinking, folks who have been elected as MPs are seemingly "approved", as such "suitable" for the ministerial positions. Mh..

While that may sound like a grand rationale, I would beg to differ. Appointing ministers from a pool of elected MPs has been more harmful than it is beneficial. I can come up with a tons of reasons for that. One of those reasons is that the practice encourages abuse of power to ensure re-election. It is a given that most ministers who fail to defend their sits are almost automatically booted from their ministerial positions. I wonder why, if I was a minister, wouldn't do all I can to ensure that I continue with my tenure as a minister? There have been so many complaints from the opposition parties, even within CCM party itself, that wakubwa always bully their way through re-election, be it through the use of a takrima or even use of their sub-ordinates.

My second reason for being against the appointment of ministers from the House is that it violates the principle of separation of the legislative from the executive branches. I mean, let's be serious. Why would we expect one minister to seriously defend the interest of his or her constituents against poor government policies while he or she is part of the same government? We all know the famous "collective responsibility" umbrella that the Tanzanian ministers tend to cover themselves under. Why would Mr. Mramba, for instance, criticize or question Mr. Wassira on water policies? I guess the answer to that is "never". So in essence, an MP who get appointed to be a minister is automatically sacrificing his constituent, while furthering the interest of the executive branch. Unless otherwise, that minister is able to do the "unethicals", which we can talk about further.

While it might appear that the MP appointed to be a minister can potentially toss his or her constituent out of the window, the opposite can and has happened. The recent saga involving both Mr. Mramba and Mr. Wassira can be a good example of how MPs appointed as minister can sacrifice the interest of the nation (the majority) for the interest of his or her constituent (the minority). Given the fact that we have had such an experience, the biggest question is: how can we expect MPs who become ministers to be balanced and fair in fulfilling their obligations? My opinion is that striking a balance will never be achieved, because huwezi kuwatumikia mabwana wawili. Experience has proved that. I guess the failure to strike a good balance between the legislative and executive obligations is a splendid reason in itself to strike off this practice.

Given that all wabunge are midomo wazi waiting for that glorious day to be appointed to the ministerial positions, it is very difficult to find an effective House. In other words, the appointment of minister among the MPs leads to an ineffective House. The current incident where the House "unanimously" agreed to join Mr. JK's hands in condeming the Darwin's Nightmare documentary is a good example. I mean, don't we have MPs who can independently think? I seriously think that we do, but the fact that every MP is looking out to be on the good side of the President is betraying the effectiveness of the House. I know that party politics also play a part, but ufisi that is brought about by the current system of ministerial appointments plays a bigger role.

I am firm believer that the legislative, executive and judicial branches of leadership in the country should always stay separate. Such separation should be maintained in order to ensure a proper level of balance in fully serving wananchi. I am not aware of any other country in the world that intermingles the legislative and executive branches, but we ought to make a change in Bongoland in order to bring effectiveness. Appointed ministers cannot claim to objective and effective in both their representation of wananchi and serving the interest of the President. Such will be a lie, for they have failed to be objective, not only in appearance but also in fact. If you think I am out of my mind, please review the Mr. Mramba and Mr. Wassira's saga.

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