Tuesday, February 05, 2008

JMK: Arghhhhhhhhh....!

I hardly struggle to come up with a catchy title for my musing of the day. On this day, let me just scream. In case you are wondering what is prompting me to scream, this president of ours is driving me nuts. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect the president to be perfect. That is because we all err. We all make mistakes in our judgment. As a matter of fact, to err is human.

Despite the fact that we all err, it is laughable when the president is surrounded by advisors and speech writers who are responsible for scrutinizing every word, every sentence and every concept that is disseminated from the president’s mouth for public consumption and analysis, yet comes up with wobbly ideas.

Let’s just get down to why I am musing today. Recently, the president addressed the nation. I am not going to dissect the whole speech, but two things caught my attention. One, he touched on the subprime problems in the United States of America. The president pointed out that he had directed folks in his government to review the impact of economic problems in the United States of America on Tanzania.

It is true that the United State of America is one of the largest economies, and that what happens in the US could send a domino effect across the globe. My question, however, is the extent to which what happens in America could largely affect Tanzania. The last time I checked, our stock market is a tiny, weeny, little drop in the ocean, not even tied to the global stock market. Secondly, we do little business with the United States of America compared to the rest of East African countries, so it is not like Tanzanian export to the American market would greatly be affected.

Since Tanzania depends on tourism a lot, you could make an argument that American tourists, with little change in their pockets due to recession, would find it meaningless to trek across the globe to see wild animals in Serengeti. But the last time I checked, America does not produce a larger portion of tourists visiting Tanzania. As a matter of fact, we just recently started marketing Tanzanian tourist attractions in the US. If you ask me, the president’s call is all political rhetoric without any practical meaning.

I think the Kenyan crisis, to the contrary, is affecting Tanzania more than the American subprime mortgage problems. If we can’t even see what is happening in our own back yard, why in the world do we think we can fathom complex issues farther away? I know, I know. Just throw in America in your sentence and all of a sudden you sound intellectual and informed.

Psssss…I am letting you in on a little secret. As stock markets across the globe do badly, guess what happens? The price of gold soars, since investors move their money from stocks to gold. What that means is that if we didn’t have imbeciles structuring mining contracts, we could have actually been making more money on the subprime mortgage crisis. But since we are stupid, the sharp rise in gold prices will only end up benefiting Canadians. So don’t you feel like sending Mr. President a good luck greetings card?

We must have really smart people in the Tanzanian government.

We can all be aloud now. The second issue that Mr. JMK touched on was the call for political leaders to make a choice between business and public service. On the surface, this call actually seems logical, given the recent Bank of Tanzania scandal, which I am sure implicated plenty of CCM big dogs. To regain political equity, the president is essentially calling for a reversal of the Zanzibar Declaration, which paved way for political leaders to play into the business arena.

I can understand where the president is trying to go with this, but again, his view (or the thinking of his advisors) ignores plenty of other practical solutions. There are plenty of ideas on the way to solve political leaders’ ethical meltdown that have been provided by my fellow Tanzanians. You can check out Mr. Lusekelo's ideas right here and Dr. Semboja and others' thought over here.

Just to punch some more holes in the president’s thinking, let me just focus on one aspect, which is the process through which ministers assume their positions. As far as I know (and please fellow Tanzanians, correct me if I am wrong), ministers are appointed by the president. Also, I know that ministers must be members of parliament. So this is my bone with the president – if ministers do not apply for their positions, but appointed by you, why in the world would you go in public to cry out against the very people you appointed? If you have an issue with business owners-cum-politicians, why appoint them into ministerial positions in the first place?

Honestly, I think that it is ridiculous that the president acts as if he just experienced an epiphany about the political system in Tanzania. This is all stupidity and cheap political ploy, if you ask me.

The reality of the matter is that barring politicians from owning businesses will not stop them from owning one. It is one thing to formulate policies and regulations, and it is another to have a serious resolve in enforcing those policies and regulations. If anything, rules and regulations, especially those associated with leadership ethics, mean nothing in the Tanzanian context. Wouldn’t you expect the president’s advisors to know that the solution is a different enforcement mechanism and not reverting to failed Ujamaa thinking, given that we have a plethora of ethical guidelines already in place?

I guess I am living in a different world. I guess I don’t understand the world in which our president lives in. But if I have to be honest, Mr. JMK is the biggest goof ball Tanzanians have ever had for a president. History will someday prove me right or wrong. But I have no reason to believe that this guy has a clue of what he is doing. I don’t see any sense of direction or purpose from him.

I really didn’t think the shortage of intelligent people (generally speaking) in Tanzania was really that bad, but I am starting to believe.
Photo Credit: Michuzi


Anonymous said...

Metty, I could not agree with you more. It is just sickening to see how time is flying by and JMK is still dillydallying without any reasonable solution for the common mwananchi. Life is getting harder and harder and what we hear is speech after speech with no sense of direction for the country. Duh!!

Jaduong Metty said...

@Anony 9:38AM
As I said, I believe that JMK could be the worst president Tanzania has ever had. As I pointed out, history will prove me wrong or right on this one.

Anonymous said...


You are absolutely right.

I have been keenly following up the president’s style of ruling the country and I could hardly point out any substantial decision he had ever made to pull the country out of crisis. I continually hear empty speeches time and again. There are many sensitive issues on his desk to attend (BoT, Buzwagi and now Richmond), but he keeps on talking irrelevant things not knowing what the citizens are anticipating. I am not touching the structure of the cabinet either, because it needs not a degree to realise that the whole cabinet is a big burden to the country.

There are two things here: either the president is badly advised by his aides or he always undermines and intentionally rejects the good advices given by his aides pretending to be brilliant in his undertakings. There are a lot of allegations surrounding his appointment as the only presidential candidate even within the party and I know most of his colleagues are regretting for their choice.

God Bless our beautiful motherland.

Onyango Jashirati

Jaduong Metty said...

You are absolutely right. I didn't vote for JMK, but I can regret on behalf of the Tanzanian people. As I said, I think this guy will go down in history as the worst president ever....unless he surprises.