Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Fools In Expensive Suits…

Honestly, I think the Mr. JK is “cool” in terms of social skills, but as far as getting down to having a full of grasp of critical issues, I don’t think he is my type of guy. Anapwaya, if I had to borrow a leaf from Swahili. Na anapwaya vibaya mno. May be he is a victim of a rotten system that made him. May be his hands are tied. May he just doesn’t have the guts. And that is a big issue, because changing Tanzania requires an extraordinary visionary. Kasi Mpya? Yeah right, the guy looks and sounds tired already.

So our beloved President thinks that the reason Tanzania entered into numerous stupid contracts is because the country lacks professionals with trade skills (I didn’t mean to steal your thunder, Mr. Msangi,I just had intended to reflect on this some more). I am not sure what the president had for dinner the previous night, but that is one stinking rationale. It is simply ridiculous.

We both know that that the core issue is the love for 10% and lack of seriousness in the Tanzanian government. If the issue was lack of professional with trade skills, how did Mr. Kikwete himself pull off a contract review agreement with Barrick Gold? Did he accomplish that through some sort of a Norwegian expert? By just listening to his talk with Tanzanians in the UK, nothing magical was done to convince Barrick, except by revisiting some financial fundamentals. Which should be done all the time. No foreign experts needed.

This is 21st century and the reality is that Tanzania is still a developing country. That being established, it is also an undeniable fact that Tanzania has plenty of resources and great years ahead of her. Nonetheless, the country’s potential could only be exploited and fully utilized for the benefit of all if we have a President and leaders who possess not only the right attitude, but also an intellectual capacity to understand the cause and effects of certain relationships.

The 21st century leadership must move Tanzania away from the old rotten mindset that has gotten us nowhere. Part of that thinking is this notion of being powerless, and that we have no control and responsibility over our problems. We must have a leader who feels equal to foreign countries that are our development partners. I am not sure if Mr. Kikwete understands that. If he did, he would have not termed the Swedes and the European Union as “wakubwa” in his
recent talk with Tanzanians residing in the United Kingdom. I can understand the use of that word in the Tanzanian context, because it is somewhat similar to words such as mheshimiwa, mkubwa, mkurugenzi, etc, that are used in social circles meant for interaction. Nonetheless, it is different when the head of state refers to other countries as wakubwa.

We typically speak of what we understand, feel and perceive. I can’t make any assumptions and conclusions on what Mr. JK was thinking, but clearly his choice of words was a clear indication of the mentality that these “waheshimiwa” carry with them to the international meetings. Could it be that we have been beggars for so long that we can’t even lift our heads up and feel dignified? Could it be that we have been psychologically wounded for so long that we can’t even visualize ourselves as successful and powerful? I have no answers to that.

Sad enough, Mr. Kikwete demonstrated such a negative attitude when he held talks with Norway's Minister for Development and Cooperation, Erick Solhein. I am not sure how the conversation about the inability of Tanzania to negotiate and sign equitable contracts with foreign entities came up or what other topics were covered. Nonetheless, given that Mwaura Mwingira, the president’s reporter made this the main story, I am justified to assume that this was the highlight of the conservation between the President and Mr. Solhein.

The major problem with the begging mentality is that it impairs one’s ability to think straight. I mean, of all developmental issues that the President could have discussed with Mr. Solhein, how did the president select the issue of contracts as a major topic? What about expanding market for Tanzanian products? What about asking for more scholarship opportunities? Do we have adequate divers since the MV Bukoba accident, just to name a few areas? How did the president ended up begging for experts that we really don’t need? Could it be that when beggars are given an opportunity to beg, they end up begging for ANYTHING, even if it is useless?

Mr. President, please hear me out: The cure really, is not the importation of Norwegian experts, but changing our own attitude. I don’t think that Andrew Chenge is that dumb. I don’t think that Dr. Msabaha is stupid. The problem is within the system that condones irresponsibility. Which brings us to this question: It is true that the Norwegian expert that the President so admired had more skills than Tanzanians or that the expert simply had the right work ethic and an attitude that would now allow stupidity to go through?

Mr. President, you can’t import attitude. It has to come from within. And you are responsible for causing and driving a change in attitude in Tanzania.

So I am just wondering: What was the Norwegian Minister for Development and Cooperation, Erick Solhein, truly thinking given what he knows about irresponsible, begging Africans? I’m sure he just nodded, smiled and shook Mr. Kikwete’s hands in expression of diplomacy. Nonetheless, I am certain deep inside he was just laughing out aloud, knowing that he has just logged on another day with a shortsighted, begging African in an expensive European suit.

Lack of experts with trade skills is not the reason for signing stupid contracts. It was not the issue behind the radar purchase. It was not the reason for engagement of RDC or IPTL. It was due to rampant corruption. Mr. Erick Solhein knew that. We both know that.

I just don’t like to see my president making a fool of himself. That is because what you ask for or say really tells the story behind your intellectual capacity. This is 21st century. Mr. Kikwete should strive to be a 21st century type of president. Nonetheless, he cannot accomplish that unless he transforms his thinking and perception about a lot of things.


Mbwana said...

Metty, I agree broadly- but I think your attempt to make every post about the need to "change attitudes" undermines the validity of some of your well thought out arguments. Can every issue in Tanzania really always come down to attitude change?
If so, maybe your blog should be called- "Metty's RefleXions on how Tanzania just needs a serious attitude change..."
Of course you're free to write whatever you want- but just an observation...

Patrick GK said...


You know what, when I first heard(read) this story on Jeff's blog, I was quick to lash out at the president's lame remarks.

But then I thought, what if the reporter took the president's words out of context, because it is not clear how he came to say what he said, better yet could he have employed some sort of sarcasm in retaliation to a perceived snide comment from his host and the reporter failed to pick that up? Who knows? But one thing I am sure the President knows is that our experts are not "vihiyos", and that we surely don't need Norwegians to "help us" sign contracts.

I am giving the president the benefit of the doubt here, and given other skewed(or is it lopsided?) reports from the same reporter this could very well be one of those cases.

mwandani said...

Unless it is a joke, or something meant to be sarcastic - words are meant to convey exactly what they mean. I don't believe JK was joking or he was just being sarcastic. He has not given any such explanation (I assume he reads TZ newspapers and has seen the article) If I give him the benefit of a doubt on this one it will be out of sheer speculation. I won't.

When he sat with Bush and talked about security and democracy in Kenya, things got out of hand and he cared at least to say that his conversation with Bush was taken out of context. Anyway…

Sometime ago I watched a documentary about Israel / Palestine peace negotiations. Arafat and his team, some Israel dudes, Madelaine Albright and Chirac were all at Élysée Palace trying to work out the best possible deal for all. They sat all day all night, and eventually no deal was made. Both sides represented their peoples' interest. They knew their position. They knew what was at stake. All the best negotiators were at the table and had an open line to Clinton in Washington - for some help if need be.

Now, IPTL or the radar deals are a little bit different from the Palestine conflict. But when it comes down to peoples' interest or business interest - same principle - people usually send their best negotiators, people who know what is at stake. They have a position that cannot be compromised - give or take.

Big deals, with loads of cash involved, dealing with arms dealers, people like the Adnan Khashoggis or even our fellow Tanzanian businessman implicated in the radar story " Sailesh Vithlani" one's gotta be experienced/tough to say NO when they have to. For their people.

One day, man to man, honestly, looking straight into their eyes, I would like to ask the guys who negotiated all those deals and some politicians who approved them: why are you doing this, for whose interest? I bet you know the answer.

Maiki said...

Mbwana, great observation! I was also thinking on the same lines. However, I had to pause and think deeply...why all the emphasis on attitude? This is what I gathered:

The Law of Cause and Effect is one of the most important of all the universal laws. This law says that for every effect in our lives, there is a specific cause. We have the ability to control the causes and change the effects to anything we want. Our thoughts are the primary causes of the conditions or effects in our lives, and if you want things to be different in the future you have to change your thinking in the present.

What makes this law so universal for every part of your life is that if there is an effect in your life such as ill health, poverty, problems in your relationships, etc..that you don’t like, you can trace it back and find out the cause of the effect, and then by changing the cause you can remove the effect. Doing this will give you a different effect in the future.

The human mind is like a garden, whatever you plant, it will return back to you. If you plant negative thoughts and continuously feed and nourish those thoughts then that is what will grow in you life. On the other hand if you constantly think positive and optimistic thoughts, then your life will be positive and optimistic. You cannot plant one type of thought in you mind and expect a different result to grow."Utavuna ulichopanda." The thoughts you sow in your mind today, you will reap in your experiences in the future. Remember, it is the Law of Sowing and Reaping not the Law of Reaping and Sowing. Your attitude is a reflection of the type of person you are on the inside and the world you live in. Poor minds creates poverty, tribal minds create tribalism, corrupt minds, creates corruption..etc..etc. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is in their way of thinking. Mhhhh...if this makes sense to me, then here is my conclusion:

The current environment in Tanznaia is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations and the only way we can ever bring about change in our country is to have a serious attitude change!! We need to aggressivley tackle the root cause of the problem!

Could this be the reason why Jaduong Metty, keeps bombarding us with the issue of attitude change? He who has ears, let him hear, he who has eyes, let him see!

Jaduong Metty said...

I know it sounds like I'm going on an overkill by talking, may a little too much,about "mentality", "attitude", etc. Nonetheless, I am doing that deliberately. It is because some folks don't get it.

As Maiki pointed out, I strongly feel that our issues in Tanzania are pretty much tied to our attitude and thinking. It is not even about colonialism or lack of skilled negotiators. If we can agree with that, then let's send the message out.

Obviously, you are smart. As such, you are getting bored with the lesson you have fully grasped. But guess what? I am sure there are folks out there who are still trying to understand what I'm talking about.

So bear with me a little bit as I continue to hammer this notion home.

Just to clarify: I am not saying that EVERYTHING that is wrong in Tanzania will be fixed by an attitude change. My point, supported by specific incidences that I have cited, is that we can be much better with an attitude change.

Do we have problems in the USA, UK, India, China, Belgium, etc? Absolutely! As long as we are human beings and we see things differently, it is a sure thing that we can't get it right all the time. But let's change our thinking in Tanzania first, then we'll talk about other factors as we discover them and grow as a nation.

I am sure that of all the reporters in Tanzania, the President felt that Mwaura is the best. As such, we are justified to be of the position that she reported what transpired.

As Mwandani pointed out, the President stood his ground when the Kenyans took his conversation with GWB out of context, he stood his ground and clarified some things.

Since he has not spoken out to refute Mwaura's reporting, we are justified to conclude that the Prez meant what he said.

Patrick GK said...

@ Mwandani,

I totally understand where you are coming from and wouldn't refute the validity of the analogy you provided.

Remember the PS in the energy ministry at the time(and others of course) are on record as having opposed the IPTL deal, he called it as he saw it, "(IPTL) is a disaster waiting to happen", but we all know what went down after that. He knew exactly what was on stake and so did the other signatories but you know what the others didn't care as long as they got their cut!

Here is an interesting chronological account of the deal and details surrounding it:

(gotta learn how to put them fancy hyperlinks up in here!! Help somebody!)

Makes you wonder what they are thinking - and I guess that's probably one of the reasons why Metty is big on analysing the "thinking" part! There you go!

I am not sure why the President hasn't done or said anything in the way of "damage control" as he did after his conversation with Bush. One can only venture to speculate on his reasons for not doing so, probably it's because the talks involved a third country, our neighbours so he thought he owed them an explanation of sorts? But if that was the case, then how about his own countrymen who put him in office, isn't he primarily accountable to us?

Like I said I am just speculating here and it's not making any sense, but I am still hesitant to believe that the President would willingly make a fool of himself and his people the way it appeared he did. Maybe he'll eventually clarify the matter, or maybe not!

@ Maiki,

I would generally concur with your line of reasoning but let me point out what I perceive as skewed here:

The thoughts you sow in your mind today, you will reap in your experiences in the future

Now try that line on someone who's going through something terrible that is of no fault of their own, eg. a victim of random violence, rape, abuse etc. Even though those unpleasant situations become part of their experiences it doesn't mean that in the past they entertained "thoughts" that led to such harrowing experiences. It would be illogical to blame a victim for being a victim! See my point!

Wow, what a long post, enough for one day!

Maiki said...

I came across an article which I think would add some flavor to this debate. The title of the article is "African Leaders Must Change Their Attitude." This article was written in 2003..Mhhh, it's interesting to learn that someone in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia had a perception that there is an attitude problem in Africa, and I am not surprised!

According to the article, "Political and economic reforms will not be accomplished if African leaders continue their old dictatorial behavior, corruption and abuse of human rights."§ion=0&article=27264&d=11&m=6&y=2003&pix=world.jpg&category=World

I wonder why the author of this article equated the problems we are facing in our continent to an ATTITUDE problem? Any comments,any one? Please, help me out on this one!

Patrick GK said...

The complete link to the article is this(you'll have to copy and paste it in your browser "old school" style I guess!):§ion=0&article=27264&d=11&m=6&y=2003&pix=world.jpg&category=World

I read the article, well no surprises there! An attitude overhaul starting with our leaders is definitely in order, and the sooner the better!

I was a bit disappointed that Tanzania didn't get a mention as one of the few, peaceful and stable African countries, a badge we so proudly like to tout. Could it be we are not what we think we are? Or was it just an oversight on the reporter's side? Oh well!

Patrick GK said...

Seems like the link doesn't fit in the post so the trick is to go to

Then go to archives, select the date (11th), Month (June) and Year (2003) then browse the page for the article

Maiki said...

Oooh my! Is it true that most Tanzanian experts lack adequate skills to negotiate with investors? Mr. President, I am not surprised that you could stoop that low! You went to Norway with a beggar's mentality (attitude) and you were even willing to insult the top brains of the nation inorder to get what you wanted. Mhhh...what a brilliant negotiation tactic!! I will not use this platform to question your level of intelligence - after all, you are the President, the Chief negotiator of the Republic of Tanzania! However, allow me to share with you an article that I read a few days ago:

Attitude of Mind a Key to Success and Failure in Negotiation

"Negotiating behaviour is primarily determined by mental attitudes. If we are to excel in negotiation, as in other fields of endeavour, we must delve deeper than the process itself. If we study a process, we might become more competent car drivers, average guitar strummers, 15 minute-mile joggers or bearable after-dinner speakers. If you're pleased with achieving 45%, 50% or 55% of what's on the table, then you can settle comfortably in your comfort zone. Achieving excellence demands that we depart from the confines of our comfort zones and address our mental attitudes.

Mental attitudes are mostly established by our negotiation objectives. If we see the objective of negotiation as "reaching an agreement which satisfies the needs of both parties and with which both sides are happy", then our mental attitude is not significantly exercised. We need look no further than studying process and enhancing techniques which merely bolt on new skills to our present behaviour . We could read a book, attend a one-day seminar, get a deal better than our minimum position, feel good that we have maintained the relationship with the other side and feel warm in the knowledge that we have negotiated "in a principled and ethical manner."

But what if our goals are much more ambitious? Such as: "our aim in negotiation is to take away 100% of what's available on the table, regardless of the happiness of either side." I would guess that this immediately challenges the social and mental outlooks of the reader. You might well be visualizing raw greed, bad feeling, harsh words, exploitation and wrecked relationships. I don't disagree, but it does have a validity as far as commercial negotiation is concerned (I stress commercial because political, personal and union negotiations have different constraints and priorities): that the aspiration of Capitalism is to maximize profit, not to obtain a nebulous "fair" profit, and that achieving personal happiness in negotiation is important to the Child not the Adult, and that your Child has no place at the negotiating table.

My objection to the latter approach to negotiation would be on realistic rather than ethical grounds. Bad feeling usually leads to bad business. The other side generally does have a Child that can be as destructive as cooperative. What if we strive at "taking 100% of what's on the table and leave the other side delighted with the deal?" That does challenge our values, mental attitudes and negotiating behaviours.

Very importantly, also, in over fifteen years of analysing negotiating behaviour especially in the commercial environment, I have discovered an assortment of inappropriate attitudes of mind and their ensuing behaviour that are of primary importance to the outcome of negotiations. These findings illustrate the other integral keys to success and failure in negotiation. A listing of those inappropriate attitudes of mind follows:

We plan for failure even before we sit down at the table. We can be slaves to expectations.

"This always finishes up at the market price.".
"We've got a lousy case."
"I know what he's going to say, so there's actually no point in asking."
"This is going to be expensive."
"He's got the better position."
"He might possibly go to any of our competitors."
"We don't have anything particular to offer."
"The Germans/Japanese/Arabs always appear to be better negotiators than us."

Very Timid demands.
Ready to give concessions.
Just going through the motions.

Our avoidance of stress permits us to settle in the comfortable middle range or accept their first offer...

"If I make demands which are overly high, it'll ruin the relationship."
"I'll seem too greedy if I ask too much."
"I feel sick when I push for that bit more."
"Yes, I'll happily split the difference."
"That's probably fair for the two of us"

Not confronting demands.
Too simplistic concessions
The final minute concessions.
Getting things over and finished with as fast as possible.

The elder brother of the comfort-seeker.

"There's always another sweeter deal, another day."
"There's no point in lathering up a sweat."

Just simple laziness.
Specific lack of preparation.
Easily surrender concessions.

Too many people look at company money as a completely different animal from personal money. Symptoms are addiction to the expense account and company-paid comforts.

"Heck, it's not all that much money, considering how much my company turns over."
"Well, it's not my money."
"What's one percent so long as I win the deal?"
"Bargaining is too infra-dig."

Very charitable concessions.
Shows off company-compensated status symbols.
Off-hand attitude of referring to money: thousands as "g" or "k", or even millions as "mil".
Ignores the final 1% opportunity.

The basic skill of successful negotiators is simply to be in control of themselves.

"What's in several or more words?"
"How can it harm if I reveal our urgency?"
"What can it matter if I'm only several minutes late?"

Doing uncontrolled talking (particularly under stress).
Making indiscreet comments.
Unbridled non-verbal communication.
Unplanned lateness.

I am perpetually surprised at how frequently people regard to be seen as "driven" is a positive attribute. As I see it, one is either driving or is driven. Driven people can accomplish great feats but are seldom able to choose to ignore the drive.

"I'm going to get this sale if it's the last thing I do."
"This will make me best salesman."
"I have got to make him appreciate my position."
"I have never lost a client yet."

Lack of self control.
Need to dominate.
Inability to stay quiet.
A compulsion to explain.
Competitiveness (competitive people are relatively simple to manipulate).
95% of people spend 95% of their lives alone in their own heads. Negotiation is getting inside the other person's head.

"I really must get this deal."
"I must make him understand my position."
"It's my agenda that relevant"
"How can I possibly comprehend what he thinks?"

Lack of any regard of the counterpart's needs, priorities, urgencies, and weaknesses.
Not posing questions.
Starting the bidding with our lowest position in mind, not theirs.
Not showing sensitivity.
Guessing that the other side views the negotiation just as we do.
So much in negotiation is about feeding ego rather than obtaining the best possible deal, which usually necessitates leaving ego at the door. The other person's ego can be our biggest opportunity or our greatest threat.

"These guys have to see who's in charge."
"I'd rather lose this deal than be viewed as weak."
"This'll get me some notice in the board room."

Controlling the first word.
Must have the last word.
Mistake speaking for dominating.
Lacks ability to listen.
Fails to be sensitive.
Seeking to humiliate the other side.
Prone to flattery.
Fixated on winning the symbols of victory.
Gives away money as a symbol of importance.
Unable to be in a subordinate role in team negotiations.

We lionize the small number of successful, risking-taking masters of the business universe. We forget that 90% of those in business are people who can manage while keeping their heads down to protect their jobs, pay the home loan, and secure their pensions

"It's best not rock the boat."
"Too many demands will cause them to be angry."
"There are rules which preside over just how much we can ask."
"They possess the upper hand."
"I make sure that I can justify my demands."
"Let's not jeopardize the relationship."
"My boss will kill me if I foul up this deal."

Are inhibited by fears.
Lack of ability to face their fears.
Inability to defend against social conditioning.
Submissive to (often bogus) authority.
Require Self-justification.
Lack ambitious demands.
Tend to be Defensive.
Need to be liked.
Tend to be timid.
Can be afraid.
Moves with the flow.
Presents concessions in return for nothing.
No ability to lead in team negotiations.

In conclusion, there are quite a few mental attitudes we take with us into negotiation which militate against our needs. They are born of fears, inhibitions, social conditioning, coping mechanisms, ego and drives. Identifying them is essential to controlling them. Only when this is done can we effectively acquire the process skills that help us achieve negotiating excellence."

Wheeeww! That was a lengthy read, but I wanted you (Mr.President) to read it in it's entirety - this could save someone a trip to Norway. Here's the bottom line: TAKE IT OR DROP IT, WE DESPERATELY NEED AN ATTITUDE CHANGE!

Anonymous said...

Too much critics stinks!!! change your attitude brother.

Jaduong Metty said...

@Anonymous 10:35PM
It is not my intention to come from a negative side...but I have no choice, since I am trying to address the very things that are prohibiting Tanzanians from having a "positive" life.

If by shading some light on those things I am considered a "sinner", then I have a very wonderful sin. I will keeping on sinning.

This is my challenge to you. If think I don't make any sense, I would like to hear your alternative thinking. That would be very helpful for both of us.