Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Constitution Overhaul: Leave The Rhetoric Aside

I am convinced politicians are all the same across the board. That is not to recognize the fact that a culture within which politicians operate limits what politicians can say or do. Nonetheless, all politicians are motivated by power. More the power, the merrier they get.

Don’t get me wrong; history has seen politicians who have been true leaders. But what I see in Tanzania is just a bunch of guys who have decided to invest in politics. That is, they just invest $10,000 in MPs election campaign (mainly for takrima expenses) and then in about five years, you are guaranteed of $20,000 in MPs’ pension. Why wouldn’t anyone go for 100% guaranteed return on investment? And that is not counting the possibility of being a minister, board appointments, plenty of sitting allowances, and all other bells and whistles that no ordinary Tanzanian can get access to.

Guess what? These guys get all that for snoozing during the Bunge sessions. That’s insane, isn’t it? Sadly, a regular mzawa in Igunga will never, never figure this game out.

Whatever the motive for getting into wananchi representation, all politicians have an ethical, moral and social obligation to abide by what the assumed position calls for. I know that is actually a wishful thinking on my part, because checks and balances in the Tanzanian context is a notion that is as foreign and far as Tasmania can be.

There have been numerous calls (mainly from the opposition camp) for the overhaul of the Constitution. I personally think there are plenty to be desired from the opposition camp, but it would be very myopic of me and the rest of us to assume that everything that comes from the opposition should be reduced to whining. There are valid points that come from the opposition camp. Similarly, there are valid points that come from the CCM camp.

With regards to the call for the overhaul, redraft, reformulation (or whatever word you want to use) of the Constitution, I am yet to hear a strong opposing arguments from the CCM folks. Simply because shortcomings identified in the Constitution have not led to a political upheaval in the country does not mean it couldn’t or shouldn't be enhanced. Besides, shouldn’t we, as a country, try to make everything better today than it was yesterday?

It appears that most political leaders in Tanzania have not read the Constitution. If they have, it is clear than they have not understood the tenets laid out in the Constitution. The squabble between the Tanzanian government and HakiElimu is a good example of how neither the government (specifically government official who make decisions) nor some our Members of the Parliament have a good understanding of the Constitution.

I am not a legal expert, as such my interpretation of some articles of the Constitution may not be correct. Nonetheless, isn’t it ridiculous when the CCM folks believe the Constitution is just fine, while some of the articles of the Constitution have no practical meaning in the current Tanzania? For instance, Part II, Section 9(j) of the Constitution is geared to ensure that:

Economic activities are not conducted in a manner capable of resulting in the concentration of wealth or major means of production in the hands of a few individuals

I mean, seriously, whom are we kidding?

Continuing to hold on to the idea that Tanzania is a socialist country is just an indication that some folks within the CCM camp are in denial. And that is a psychological problem. Given that Mirembe Hospital is just nearby, why don’t some of these people go for a psychiatric evaluation? Socialism as a policy (that is what the Constitution calls it) was thrown out of the window when the country embarked on a free market economy. So why don’t we just leave the rhetoric aside and reformulate our Constitution to reflect Tanzania’s current state of economic and political affairs?

Furthermore, if the Ujamaa policy was as operational as the CCM folks are trying to believe, how could their former president, Mr. BWM “steal” the coalmine from STAMICO, a state-owned company, and transfer it to a private ownership? Is that really what the Constitution says?

Besides, I don’t believe that the former Tanzanian Prime Minister, Mr. Warioba, is that stupid to call for a work on the Constitution. As a legal expert, seasoned politician, he knows what is talking about. Some things, seriously, just require an application of common sense. And I don’t think that is too much to ask for.

Whatever the politician’s motives for vying for a leadership position, I think throwing away common sense (and hence act stupidly) for the sake of power retention is just ridiculous.

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Photo credit: trekearth.com

2 comments:

wayne said...

from the book "The Prince" by Niccolo Machiavelli, written in 1513:
"THERE IS NOTHING MORE DIFFICULT TO CARRY OUT, NOR MORE DOUBTFUL OF SUCCESS, NOR MORE DANGEROUS TO HANDLE, THAN TO INITIATE A NEW ORDER OF THINGS. FOR THE REFORMER HAS ENEMIES IN ALL WHO PROFIT BY THE OLD ORDER, AND LUKEWARM DEFENDERS IN ALL THOSE WHO WOULD PROFIT FROM THE NEW ORDER. THE LUKEWARMNESS ARISES PARTLY FROM FEAR OF THEIR ADVERSARIES WHO HAVE LAW IN THEIR FAVOR; AND PARTLY FROM THE INCREDULITY OF MANKIND, WHO DO NOT TRULY BELIEVE ANYTHING NEW UNTIL THEY HAVE HAD ACTUAL EXPERIENCE OF IT."

Jaduong Metty said...

@Wayne,
That quote couldn't have said it better...it appears the Tanzanian society is struggling with the idea of change. But it appears to me that there are is an "elite" group that benefits from the status quo, and they are willing for fight the very end to keep it that way.