Wednesday, December 27, 2006

JMK: You Are Employed By The People

I have nothing personal against President JMK. So when I hammer his thinking and whatever he does, it is not that I hate the guy. I am just fulfilling my obligation as a citizen. Besides, I am the boss. I put him in office. He is accountable to me.

The most compelling reason though, is the fact that the president is the head of the Tanzanian household. When head of the household is not thinking straight, it is a sure thing that we will be in deep trouble. And truly speaking, Tanzania has started sinking deeper, in case you haven't noticed.

I can see some people flinching in shock. No, truly, we – wananchi - are the bosses. But I guess some politicians snatched the power from you that you feel so small. Sorry lady or gentleman, I know my position. I am the boss. So I will provide my scorecard, whether the system likes it or not. That is the nature of the beast.

So today I will just send a short memo to Ikulu:

From: Mwananchi, The Boss
To: The President of the URT, Employee

Dear Employee,

Re: Your Obligations

Given your recent comments during an exclusive interview with the Guardian, in which you gave the following comment: “ British Prime Minister Tony Blair has invited me on January 16 to visit London. Should I say I am not going to meet him because there are Tanzanians complaining about my trips outside the country?”, I would just remind you to watch your mouth and know your obligations.

Tony Blair did not employ you. The regular Hamisis, Sikudhanis, Matonyas and Ngoshas that you are despising employed you. You are accountable to them. If any of these regular wananchi feels that you need to sit your butt down and deal with domestic issues, you have no choice.

Do you think Tony Blair would continue meeting you in Dar, for instance, if there is a crisis in London? How many times have you heard national leaders halting their foreign trips to deal with domestic issues? What do you guys drink and smoke at Ikulu? It seems like whatever you drink and smoke at Ikulu causes an epidemic of arrogance, bad thinking and shortsightedness.

I don’t understand why you African presidents think it is cool to get foreign leaders’ approval. You know what it is? It is simply a bad case of inferiority complex. It was stupid of your administration to belittle the power crisis, while boasting of your meetings with the Blairs. You priority is the Tanzanian people, not foreign leaders. Period.

There is nothing wrong with making foreign trips that are justified, and you should make such trips. But making foreign trips so that you can simply show your face is plain, well, stupid. Do I need to remind you that you were once a Minister for Foreign Affairs and most likely these folks have intelligence on you and they know you better than you think? Do I need to remind you that we have ambassadors charged with representing your policies and priorities to foreign entities? So why run these errands yourself?

I hope you are listening. I hope you are paying attention, because the boss will run you out of Ikulu sooner than you think.

Mwananchi, The Boss.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mr. President, Please...

I don’t think intellectual capabilities alone are good enough to make a good leader. Nonetheless, I am convinced that an individual who is empty upstairs cannot make a wonderful leader either. You don’t have brainpower like Einstein to become a president. We cannot also yank someone from Mirembe and make him or her our president. A president can just have an average level of intelligence – as long as he or she is capable of handling the office.

That being said, the kind of a president I would like is the type that has the ability to grasp and put issues in their proper context. Honestly, I have doubts whether Mr. JMK is that type of a president. Uncommon situations require uncommon solutions. Tanzania requires a very special leader. If anything, Mr. JMK sounds more of a common, Katibu Kata, operating from Ikulu. I have reflected so much about his government, but my current conclusion is based on his speech on the RDC issue.

One has to wonder, is Mr. JMK for real or he is just playing dumb? Reading the article above, I couldn’t just believe his rationale. So here are my thoughts Mr. President.

1) Throwing the God/nature card is a cheap, stupid excuse.
We need better crisis management process and contingent plans in place. Period. Folks, I have blogged on this before . I don’t have to repeat that.

2) Time isn’t on our side.
Successful people understand the value of time. Apparently, Mr. President, your administration is acting like you have plenty of time in your hand. This is what you said in January, according to yourself: “ During my first speech, I discussed fears of the looming drought, that we were going to grapple with food scarcity, after which I discussed the condition of power generation. I gave precaution on January 31, this year”.

This is the deal Mr. President. Identify problems is just the very first step in finding a solution. Nonetheless, when you want credit for identification of the problem without actually producing swift remedial actions, you are just good for nothing. You identified the power crisis on January 31, 2006. What happened between then and now? Please don’t tell me the engagement of RDC and finding a temporary solution in 10 months is the fastest your government could do. I wonder what Kasi Mpya means to you.

3) Fools rush in.
I am still to find a VERY good reason for engaging RDC. Nobody makes a seriously decision solely on a few factors. It seems to me that the only reason the government engaged RDC is because they charged a cheap rate. That only sounds good on the surface.

Smart people or governments do their homework before getting into a business venture. They perform a due diligence. It is obvious that the Tanzanian government rushed in. If you have power crisis in the country and you are looking for a solution, wouldn’t you go for a company with a proven track record? So, isn’t the following sentence from a president who is just shooting in the dark, with no specific target or goals?

…Richmond turned out to be a small company with little capacity, and their hopes were that once they got the contract they could secure loans from banks, which refused to do so”.

There is no such thing as “turned out to be a small company”. You should have had that information before sitting on the negotiation table with RDC. You know why banks refused? Because they did their homework, while your power committee members were just nursing their vitambis. Honestly, given the magnitude of the power crisis in Tanzania, it was stupid of the Tanzanian government to gamble. I cannot forgive you for that.

Smart people perform a cost-benefit analysis. Specifically, the government.

4) What kind of contracts did you sign?
I thought UDSM teaches Law. I thought the Attorney General knows something about Law. I thought the contract between RDC stipulated remedies to the government in case of RDC’s failure to perform. I don’t understand the Mr. JMK’s government contention that if the RDC was revoked, they might have taken advantage to take the matter to court and seek redress from the government. How lame and stupid is that?

What kind of contract did you sign Mr. JMK? You mean to tell us that the government didn’t have any clause in the contract that covers the government’s back in case of breach of contract by RDC? You are kidding, right?

There are official tests out there, such as the IQ tests that can tell of someone’s intelligence. Nonetheless, I am convinced that acting in a way that is consistent with common sense is a sure sign that your fellow jirani or ndugu is intelligent enough. When they consistently miss on little common sense things, then we must start questioning.

As I sit here, I am just wondering – do we really have intelligent leaders in Tanzania or just some dimwits who got lucky? I mean, how come common sense seems to evade them? If not, how come they have PhDs and big time credentials?

May be politics turns people into zombies. I don’t know. I just don’t.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Beggars Mentality (3)

I love Bongoland leaders. That, of course, is a sarcastic statement from me. Honestly, I am still looking for anything to love my fellow Tanzanians who are given the responsibility to take us to the Promised Land. It is not my intention to depress you, but I don’t think the qualities I am looking for will emerge anytime soon.

See, there are fundamental things that a responsible human being will do. For instance, you are in a squeeze for money. A neighbor comes to you with a proposal. He or she proposes that they will contribute to your bank account, but the only simple condition for you to do that is bath your children. See, the reason why you needed the money was to fund the remodeling of your house. The problem, however, was that your children kept on getting sick, and the doctors advised you to bath your children quite often to save yourself of hospital trips.

So the neighbor, knowing that a fundamental change that you need to make is to bath your children, laid out a beneficial condition for you. Bath your children and I will give you money, as simple as that. So what would you think of a person who fails to accomplish that simple contractual obligation and end up missing the neighbor’s contribution? Stupid isn’t it?

I believe for allowing the contractual time with the Danish government to elapse before tabling the anti-corruption bill, the Tanzanian government has just acted the same - stupidly.

See, corruption hurts. It sends our economy and social progress ailing all the time. So wouldn’t it be the priority of a Tanzanian government to table the corruption bill as agreed upon with the Danish government? Phillip Marmo, the Minister of State in the President’s Office responsible for Good Governance contends the government could not rush to table the Bill in Parliament before seeking people’s views as provided for in the country’s legislative program.

That is crap, given you had a contractual agreement. I know of plenty of Bills that went against the people's will. So don't pull that on us.

One would quickly think that Marmo’s arguments make a strong case, but they are not. This is my question: when the Tanzanian government was signing the aid package, didn’t they know it would take much longer to fulfill the requirements set forth by the Danish government? Why didn’t the Tanzanian government bring that up during negotiations? This is not a surprise all of a sudden, isn’t it?

Tired politicians will always come up with tired arguments.

The bottom line is this: the Tanzanian government agreed to table the Bill not in February 2007, but earlier than that. So shut up and accept the fact that Tanzanian government is irresponsible.

So I just felt like slapping Mr. John Momose Cheyo for his comments regarding the Danish government’s move. Here is what he said: “These people! How can they do a thing like that? Is it that they want the people to go against their own government? Whey they slash aid, it is the people who are going to suffer, not the government. Their priority should be the people, the government in power”.

Either way Mr. Cheyo, wananchi cha moto wanakiona. Just look around you.

Can you believe that this is a guy who actually wanted to be the President of the United Republic of Tanzania? It is very sad that the word responsibility and accountability is not part of the Tanzanian culture. Because of that, we have a twisted mind. I mean, whose responsibility is it for the Tanzanian people, the Danish government or the Tanzanian government? Seems to me like Mr. John Cheyo thinks the Danish government should be more responsible to the Tanzanian people that the Tanzanians’ own government. How stupid is that?

What ticks me off is the fact that we are beggars, but we act like we are on top of the world. I have not done research on this, but I am convinced that holding on to the beggars’ mentality for too long has brought us to the point where we take everything for granted.

I agree with Mr. Idd Simba. Slash the stupid aid. We have plenty of gold. Let’s be responsible for our own actions and decisions. We kicked the British out so we can do that. So let’s do it then. Besides, financial aid has not done much. The last time I checked, if traveling by bus from Arusha to Dodoma, it is a sure thing that your eyelashes will be full of dust when you get there. Wasn’t that the case before the British left the country 45 years ago?

You know what sucks the most? Having clueless leaders. Kwa mwendo huu, Vision 2025 is just a dream. Si mtaona?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Lack Of Hope Is…Well, Dangerous

If you go through my profile, you will notice that one of my favorite movies is Shawshenk Redemption. What stands out for me from that movie is one catchy line at the end of the movie. That line goes like this, “Hope is a good thing. May be the best thing”.

To me, that is a profound statement.

We all do what we do because we have hope for something. I go to work because I hope for my pay at the end of it. I studied hard in school because I hoped for my degree and eventually a “good” job. I have not verified this from any terrorist, but I hear they do what they do because they hope for some spiritual reward. Hope, therefore, is this wonderful thing in us that drives us. It is our engine.

Whether we drive towards the right direction is another thing. Nonetheless, lack of hope is, well, hopelessness. It is desperation.

I am not a psychologist, but I read somewhere that when human beings are faced with a desperate, frightful situation they resort to two options – fight or flight. I believe that when we are facing dangerous situations head on, the choice to fight or flee is not an intellectual one. We tend to lack intellectual capacity to create a “choice diagram” to come up with the best route. We do it by instinct. We become animals that we are. The choice between “ngumi mkononi” or “mguu kichwani” becomes a matter of natural tendencies in you.

Hope, however, is not a utopian concept. That is particularly true when one’s hope is based on another person’s promise. At some point, the “promisor” must deliver to the “promisee” (that sounded legal, didn’t it?). Failure to deliver by the promisor can prompt the promisee to change their expectations, attitude, and course of action.

We must admit it, Mr. JMK came to power thunderously. I mean; racking up 80% of the votes in 2005 was not an easy feat. His early days, as I have alluded to in my previous posts, were promising. Nonetheless, of late he has been falling into this darkness and abyss that only he and him alone understand. That light that shone late 2005 and early 2006 is slowly turning into darkness. Plainly, I don’t see any hope for Tanzanians. He appears to have lost direction and the ability to rule. People, was the RDC issue really that difficult?

I can see a sense of desperation looming over the Tanzanian sky. I can see an eruption of pent-up emotions in the near future. When hope is gone, stuff happens. Things change.

See, my Tanzanian people have been duped for so long. I am not making a prediction of change solely because I desire one, but I know that nature has to take its own course. You can only fool people for sometime. The problem, however, is that CCM is slumbering. They are taking voters for granted. They are taking folks for imbeciles. I am sure Mr. JMK thought that getting 80% of votes was a special present with no strings attached. Well, Mr. President, the 80% votes you got signifies a level of hope folks assigned to your presidency. The problem is, you and CCM have been acting as if you owe Tanzanians nothing.

I cannot blame CCM that much though. Absolute power corrupts. Would you be shaken if you have been in power for, well, forever? It is like nothing moves you. Nonetheless, just ask the Republicans who faced the wrath of desperate people. When you have treated folks as fools for a while, they are bound to wake up. And when they do, they will definitely run you out of the park.

All of us desire to hope in something. Soon and very soon, Tanzanians will find something to hope for and hope in. I am sure there hope will not be in CCM or Kikwete. It won’t be in a system that appears to be incompetent by the day. It will be in something fresh, true and honest. Mark my words and watch out in 2010.

Hope is a good thing. May be the best thing. Lack of it is a dangerous thing. And CCM is facing that danger right in the face. So go ahead and sleep baby CCM, for Tanzanians are about to claim their country back. Pretty soon.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Those Who Travel Faster ...

Friends and readers,

I must start by apologizing. It is my goal to share my fresh thoughts on a regular, timely basis. Nonetheless, life throws challenges our way. I had to face some life adjustments in the past week that kept me away from this little “cubicle” of mine. But guess what? I am back!

Man, there are plenty of things to talk about and reflect on when it comes to life in Bongoland. One of the major issues, obviously, is the fact that RDC has failed to deliver electricity on time. That is not from me, but from Bongoland news all over the mtandao thing. Of course the reason is incompetent (the Company’s resume does not indicate any experience in power supply), but they have come up with plenty of excuses. Wasanii ni wasanii tu, ngojera lazima watatunga .

But I wouldn’t blame RDC. They did what they had to do in a broken system. The blame goes right back at the dude in Ikulu. Well, one would ask why Mr. JK should be blamed. The answer to that is very simple – he appointed these suckers called Mawaziri and Manaibu, whatever their titles are. I mean, Mr. JK got played straight up by Dr. Msabaha and Masha, but what did he do? He recycled them. What the heck is that?

That, in itself, is a problem. Nonetheless, there is more that troubles me. One of them is that inability to enforce contracts that we have entered into with other parties. In an ideal situation, one would expect that all contractual terms with RDC are clear, and that remedies to the government and penalties to for failure to perform are all stipulated. Then what is this thing about extending the time for RDC to deliver? Honestly, that is stupid. That is crazy.

I am not a law scholar, but this is the little I know. By verbally extending the time for RDC to deliver, the government just entered into a modified contract with RDC. If the new verbal terms are accepted by RDC, then we have an implied contract (law scholars, please correct me if I am wrong). But why go through all of this, while the Tanzanian economy is continuing to sink because of some incompetent company? Why not just go ahead and choke their necks for failing to honor the contract?

It stinks and it stings.

I understand that Mr. JK came up with this “kasi mpya” mantra when he took charge of Ikulu. This is my word for his Excellency: those who travel faster, travel lighter. Right now, it appears you ain’t traveling faster. If you can’t solve the simplest things as ensuring steady power supply, how are you going to create the promised 1,000, 000 jobs? (Or didn’t you know that job creation is indirectly linked to increased production, which is highly dependent on steady power supply? I hope I didn’t confuse you there Mr. President)

So if you want to live up to the kasi mpya song, please get rid of the junk that is hanging all over your back. Try trimming down incompetent folks in your cabinet as a starting point. The longer you keep the junk, the slower you will become. Read my lips - or my blog.

But the simplest, but important question that I have for you is this: do you know where Tanzania is going or you are just fumbling your way through? Seriously, I can’t tell if you have any idea. The fact that your own PM thinks power problem is a Third Phase government's issue shows that you folks have no idea.

Before you kill me though, check out what my favorite columnist, Mr. Lusekelo, had to say about the RDC issue.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Was Kambona That Bad? (2)

It wasn't my intention to extend this topic. But I had to, given that some folks might have misunderstood the objective of the first article.

It is my opinion that Tanzanians, in general, are wimpy folks. I can’t quite put my fingers on it, but belief is that it is all because of the Nyerere effect. I mean, we got so scared of the guy to the extent that even years after his departure, we are still afraid to question him.

Jamani, Nyerere amekufa. There are no secret service guys who will drag you to Msasani. OK?

One could contend that given that Nyerere is dead, we don’t have a reason to discuss his legacy. But I would beg to differ. And I will do that by a quote from one of my readers, Maiki:

History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illuminates reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life, and brings us tidings of antiquity. The study of history is the best medicine for a sick mind; for in history you have a record of the infinite variety of human experience plainly set out for all to see; and in that record you can find yourself and your country both examples and warnings; fine things to take as models, base things rotten through and through, to avoid. Without knowledge of the past we would be without identity, we would be lost on an endless sea of time

Adding or subtracting to that will be injustice.

So my intention was more than to question Nyerere’s legacy. I wanted us to take a very hard look at our history and what we have been long taught and gauge whether our perspective and perceptions are correct. But in order to effectively do that, we have to be objective and let go of our political biasness. Unfortunately, the Tanzanian history is tangled with Nyerere’s legacy.

In order for us to create the right future, we have to unearth some of the wrong foundations and beliefs that we have held on for so long. I don’t want my children to grow up thinking that Nyerere was the best think that has ever happened to Tanzania, while that could not an objective assessment. I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking that Oscar Kambona, Mzee Mapalala, or Kassanga Tumbo were villains simply because they didn’t fit into Nyerere’s thinking.

What troubles me, for the most part, is when finding quotes such as the following, and never really understanding where Nyerere was coming from:

"Without any question, the manner and the implications of the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar is the most misunderstood aspect of Tanzania's political development. It may not matter very much when foreigners get confused, but unfortunately there are many times when Tanzanians themselves appear to misunderstand it."

Former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere.
Dar es Salaam Government Printer, July 1970. p. 3.


Unfortunately, 42 years later, I still don't get the objective of the union.

The question is: why didn’t Nyerere clearly explain the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar? My only guess is that he thought Tanzanians were dumb enough (given he was one of the very few indigenous people to obtain a Masters degree) and never really deserved clear explanations. I truly have trouble when such a manipulative person is considered the best thing ever.

Honestly, I really long for objective arguments justifying the labels that the Tanzanian history has given Oscar Kambona, JK Nyerere, James Mapalala, etc.

Somebody, please help me.

Friday, December 01, 2006

How Did Elijah Know?

Let us get back to the basics today. Let us go back to the things that really matter. Let us talk about God. I can see someone almost looking away. How is it that when everything is cool and nice we forget about God, but when it gets sour we all become religious all of a sudden? Try visiting a funeral and see what I mean. I have never come to the point of understanding why churches only get full on Easter and Christmas days either.

You are not one of them folks, are you?

I am not a very good Bible scholar, but I will courageously share my questions and thoughts. If I get something theologically wrong, I am welcoming corrective comments.

I am fascinated about God. That is because I have experienced his power and goodness. That is a personal experience that I cannot clearly articulate. See, experiencing God will never come to you by looking for a scientific or a logical way of proving his existence. Scientists have done a remarkable job, but at some point they hit a wall. When they hit a major wall, they resort to this nice little word – nature - as their explanation. That is crap. Just admit it is God.

I know for sure that when it gets to that point, it is God establishing his supremacy and his infinite wisdom, as He has confirmed in Isaiah 55: 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord”.

See, I am convinced that knowing God changes everything about one’s outlook in life. A true knowledge of God, which is not of a religious routine, is such a powerful experience. Folks who have experienced that tend to exude an aura of confidence. My favorite verses, which shows such an aura, is an account of three young men Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego when faced with a death sentence for holding on to their faith are Daniel 3:17-18. This is what these dudes said: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up

Talking about gangster love for God? Talking about mad love for God? Talking about a deeper knowledge of God? You got it in those verses.

I am convinced that we sometimes miss the mark because we have our own idea of how God operates. When God reveals Himself to us in a certain way, all of a sudden we want to build a tent on it (even some disciples of Jesus tried to do that). As a result we build denominations and religious practices out of just one experience. I believe that our God is deeper and higher than we think. To be honest, I believe we have not seen anything yet.

In 1 Kings 17: 11-12, the Bible reads “The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.”

This story really fascinates me. Looking at this story, we can clearly see how quite often we have construed certain religious experiences to represent God’s presence. While it is true that all the physical evidences – powerful wind, earthquake, and fire – have been associated with God’s presence before, how did Elijah know the true presence of God in this particular incident?

I really don’t have an answer to that, but my conviction is that Elijah had an intimate relationship with God, which enabled him to move when God moved. He knew God personally and not religious. Out of that relationship, he was able to distinguish the true voice of God from “noises”. Just think of all the religious experiences (“noises”) we think represent God today. It is insane.

I don’t know about you, but I desire to attain a spiritual sanity by getting to the point of knowing God intimately the way Elijah did. So the question is: do I personally know God or I am just having a fruitless religious experience?

I guess the fruits that are coming out of your life will tell. But the greatest obstacle that stands on your way is sin. But you knew that already, didn't you?