Monday, January 28, 2008

Rorya HQ Decision: Say What…?

I try to objective in all my reflections, but I would ask to be allowed to exercise at least a tad of biasness on today’s reflection. That is because my reflection is a bit close to heart. I am stakeholder in this. This is where I hail from.

My reflection is based on the story published online by Daily News. Apparently, the president has directed a fresh determination of where the newly established Rorya district’s headquarters should be. The driving force behind this directive is the accusation of corruption in the previous council members’ voting. The council members had initially elected Utegi as the district’s headquarters.

Election of Utegi as the district’s headquarters was a stupid choice in the first place. I don’t have a problem with Utegi being the new district headquarters, as that alone would not stop other areas within the district from developing. I just hated the fact that the headquarters’ determination process was marred by corruption accusations. In addition, Utegi is just a few kilometers from Tarime, which was the initial district’s headquarters. This was probably one the decisions that highlights the very best folks in Tanzania do – act stupidly.

You know what though? I am not that disappointed with the people of Rorya. The fact of the matter is the Rorya’s story is not any different from the rest of Tanzania. The majority of the population is uneducated and asking them to make a logical, informed decision as to most appropriate place for a district’s headquarter is way too much. They are the victim of their circumstance. As such, in the very end, people resort to emotions as the basis for making decisions. That is why strong ethnic allegiance has trumped logical analysis in deciding where the Rorya headquarters should be.

But the government knew that.

I am not convinced that government officials, including the president himself, are unaware of social dynamics in Tanzania, particularly in Rorya. That being said, it is stupid, in my mind, to resort to “voting” as a way of determining where any district’s headquarters should be. For one, I don’t know of any place in Tanzania where a district’s headquarters have been deciding through a ballot. Why this time around in Rorya? I know that change happens and we should not be bound by fear of change, but deviation from the “norm” should be logically explained. Trying to politically please the people is not good enough, especially if such an act turns out to be time consuming and financially costly to the government.

My second argument for concluding that the government’s call for balloting is stupid is my presumption that the establishment of Rorya’s district was strategic. My expectation is that this decision was made to achieve a specified vision and particular strategic goals. As such, the government, which ideally owns this vision, was expected to know where the district’s headquarters should be. Furthermore, it is my expectation that any district’s headquarters in Tanzania is established based on known technical criteria, and not based on feelings and ethnical influences. Unless the decision to divide Tarime district into two, like many other crazy decisions in Tanzania, was made on a whim without any logical thought process.

And I wouldn’t be surprised that this was the case, as anything is possible in Bongoland.

I am not calling for the central government to just impose on local people. My contention is that the decision to divide Tarime into Rorya district is not only strategic, but also a change in itself. As this decision involves bringing change into the lives of Rorya people, the government should have exercised good change management techniques. That involves identifying potential roadblocks to the implementation of the idea, which in this case tribal and ethnic influences.

Getting around the ethnic tensions could have been achieved by impartially making the decision from Dar-es-Salaam, then educating Rorya folks as to the technical and logical reasons for the decision. Any feedback from the constituents could have been implemented in the final cut. I don’t think that is rocket science.

I get surprised at how even very simple things in Bongoland becomes too complicated. And that frustrates the heck out of me.

I really don’t know how this whole thing will come out in the end, but this much I know, this was another proof of how ineffective our president and his cabinet is. I can't really undersand why Mr. Mizengo Pinda, the Minister for Regional Administration and Local Governments, could not advise his boss. Obviously, it appears that the Rorya folks are against this balloting crap. And I believe they are justified.

I am not that good, but I honestly think I can make a very good Tanzanian president. If this is the best Kikwete can offer, I have plenty of hope that Tanzanians can do better with me. Vote Pedro…err…me for President!


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Photo Credit: Mjengwa

4 comments:

wayne said...

Metty: two comments -
1) you have my vote!!!! Oh, but wait a minute, I am mgeni, so never mind.
2) Another "danger" in making strategic decisions by popular vote - especially when there are tribal / ethnic issues involved - is the danger of (pardon the expression) creating a "little Kenyan" situation. An THAT, my friends, is scary
Wayne

Jaduong Metty said...

@Wayne,
Thanks for your vote. You are a mgeni, but your vote is a vote of confidence, which is a good thing.

The situation in Rorya isn't that bad, but in so many levels it pulls back people from making any real progress.

In a broader sense, I can really understand why the government would propose a change and then fail to outline ways to properly implement the proposed ideas.

But this is Tanzania we are talking about. If they were doing things in an ideal way, may be my blog would have had a different tone. So it seems...

Anonymous said...

Metty,

First of all, I would vote for you if I knew you are not from Utegi…a joke of course!

I went through your article thoroughly and I could read between the lines what you actually meant. I am also hailing from the same neighbourhood and I have been keenly following the issue. The voting which was done by the rogue ward legislators in Tarime was totally surrounded by the whiff of corruption, which was spearheaded by the current MP Hon. Sarungi. I am not afraid to mention his name because I have all the reasons. He and his companion Otieno intentionally manipulated the whole team to vote for Utegi causing a treacherous feeling to prevail in the newly formed district. The majority of Rorya citizens felt betrayed!

As a matter of fact, the battle here was between Utegi and Shirati and since Sarungi is hailing from Utegi he wanted to leave a legacy of bringing the Rorya headquarters to Utegi after he steps down as an MP in 2010 (I hope he won’t be having courage to contest for the post again in 2010). For those who know these two townships, will definitely agree with me that all basic necessities for the establishment of a district’s headquarter are more in place in Shitati than they are available in Utegi.

It is, however, clear that even the Government knows for sure where the headquarters is supposed to be and there was no need for the Minister for Regional Administration and local Government to propose the voting to the Rorya district citizens as if such a practice has been witnessed anywhere in the country. This is a waste of time and limited financial resources we have as well as an insult to the people. This dispute has taken sufficiently enough time, while the issue is very clear and straight forward to everyone. I also know that Sarungi and his wanton clique will fight relentlessly to make sure that the choice of Utegi is endorsed.

My single advice to the Government is that it should honestly stick to the set criteria and follow them without showing any biasness and let the Government do not ignore the fact that the Rorya district people have also a sense of astuteness. Otherwise, people will be driven to the brink of mayhem.

Onyango Jashirati

Anonymous said...

Metty we need real action here. Shirati's men and women are not serious about home and this is why Igogo and his cousin Sarungi are taking advantage of this deal. Utegi will take years before it will be ready for anything. Joshirati do some now. These blah blah is not taking us to the next level. By the end of the day the heroes are the one care enough to be there for their country.