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.