Friday, November 28, 2008

RTF: "I Pity The Fool (2)..."

It is Friday and I know that most of Bongolanders in the US participated in some form of Thanksgiving festivities. For the rest of you fellow Bongolanders, Google can actually help you find out what Thanksgiving celebration is all about.

So as you digest your turkey, take a moment and think with me.

My reflection today will be on the most recent news that the government brought a case against two prominent former cabinet ministers – Basil Mramba and Daniel Yona. Given the recent developments in the “fight against corruption” song, the news that the two ministers actually got arraigned gives the impression that the government is playing tough against corruption. In an ideal situation, such steps should be applauded.

But before you raise your glasses and take your hats off, let me rain on your parade.

Can we revisit the charges again? According what I read, the two ex-ministers were charged with “abuse of office and occasioning loss of over TShs. 11 billion to the government”. Specifically, Mr. Mramba, for instance, granted tax exemptions to M/S Alex Stewart Assayers.

Is that it? Is that all?

The problem with the above key charges is that they are very light in substance.

Let’s take Mr. Mramba for instance. While it is true that by extending tax exemptions to M/S Alex Stewart Assayers, the government lost some loot, the charge brought him does not specifically spell out that he fraudulently did so. As such, there is not criminal intent cited by the government prosecutors.

If anything, this case brings to questions Mr. Mramba’s competence and judgment. And that’s where the case against Mramba loses its juice – Tanzanian Law actually allowed him – as a Finance Minister – to extend tax exemptions, regardless of what TRA suggested!

So this is the reality check: incompetent folks who apply bad judgment typically don’t go to jail, unless criminal intent is established. They simply get fired from their jobs. Worst still, the Public Procurement prosecutors cited only suggest “disciplinary actions” against folks who violate the provisions of the Act!

If I have to decode this whole saga for you – this is a CCM’s political propaganda at its best. At the end of the day, Mr. Mramba and Mr. Yona will walk freely in Dar streets, laughing at all y’all fool who got duped into voting for CCM again in 2010.

Hey, did you notice that the prosecutors said the investigations into the case have not been completed? The question is this: why bring a half-baked cookie to the party? What's the rush?

How I pity the fools!
Photo credit: Mjengwa

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Just Hate Stupid Rhetoric

I can’t blame having two little ones in the house for not being able to blog as much I want to, but in a way I do. I know there is someone out there who understands my experience. But I promise this – whenever I can squeeze some time, I will definitely write.

So don’t you give up on this blog. Keep hope alive.
Recently, Mr. Pinda, Bongoland’s Prime Minister made an appeal to the Southern African Development Community and East African Community governments to put in place legislations that would enable the private sector to participate effectively in the development of the energy sector.

Read the story here

Maybe it is just me, but I hate political rhetoric and more of it. I hate political rhetoric because it fulfills one major duty – and that is filling newspaper columns, television news and radio airwaves. Nothing practical or meaningful follows thereafter.

Let me get down to the impressive statistics that Mr. Pinda cited. For your convenience, let me quote them for you:

“Africa has the lowest access to electricity at the rate of 25% per cent. Tanzania, for instance, has only about 10% of its population accessing electricity services, with only 2% of the rural population connected to power”.

Those stats should make any sensible person jump on the let-revolutionize-the-energy-sector chorus. And I am not saying that sarcastically, because Tanzania in particular should. Besides what is the point of generating statistical numbers if they don’t act as a strategic basis and a reason for action?

What makes Mr. Pinda’s remarks as a load of crap with no practical meaning is this – Tanzania has not successfully implemented reforms he is talking about. Unless I am living in a world far apart from that of Mr. Pinda, why preach what you can’t or have no desire to implement in your own backyard?

The basis for my argument is this: Tanzania’s own Members of Parliament shut down a Bill that was set to revolutionize the energy sector. See the story here …

So my point is this: if you ain’t going to do anything, stop the stupid rhetoric.
Photo Credit: Michuzi

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Africa: Get Ready for Disappointment

Surely, Obama’s victory has sparked hope and optimism among many around the globe. No doubt his presidency has helped to lift the head of many black folks around the globe. Surely, his Kenyan roots have brought a sense of pride, especially for the Luo tribe, but even for the entire Kenya as a nation.

But pride is where story starts and ends.

I know that at the back of many African presidents, there are hopes of frequent White House trips. I know African small and big fisadis are expecting generous aid packages that will flow directly to their pot bellies. I can bet my life on this – that there are Africans who are hoping that the African story will change, that the continent will now see prosperity.

Let me just rain on that parade before it gets started. Ain’t nothing going to change.

The high expectations are rooted in Africa’s own mentality and cultural tendencies – and that is of harboring tribalism. I can surely tell you that Luos in Kenya are feeling good right about now. That is because from a traditional view, Obama is not representing Michelle, Sasha, Malia and the American people alone, he is representing the entire Kogelo. He is representing cousins and aunts he has never met.

And that’s where the cultural warfare will begin.

See, the truth is that Barack grew up in the American culture, where having Kenyan roots is just that – having Kenyan roots. That is because America is formed by folks with ancestral roots in other countries. It just happens Barack can trace those roots one generation removed. I wonder if, in his mind, he views his role the way his Luo cousins view it.

Contrary to the African culture which promotes communal connectedness, the American culture (which Barack grew up in) stresses individual responsibility and accountability. As such, the hopes that Barack will now carry the load of the entire Luo “tribe” will meet a disappointing response.

Another stumbling block for my African brothers will be this – while Obama will be the most powerful man on earth, his political power does not go unchecked. I know, I know, African presidents have all the power. So if you think Luos will start getting Federal jobs like Kibaki offers them to Kikuyu in Kenya, sorry amigos. The American system of true checks and balances will hold Barack primarily responsible and accountable to the American people, and not to his own family and friends.

I can only predict one thing: that by the virtue of Obama being black, he will actually have the power to crush and whip crazy mentalities that African leaders have held for years, without being accused of exercising some sort of a Western supremacy. If his trip to Kenya as a Senator – where he urged Kenyans to act tough on corruption was any indication, then expect more tough stances.

My point is this – Obama is not an African president. He is the president of the United State of America. The sooner that sinks in the minds of Africans, the better.
Photo Credit: Michuzi

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Shortsightedness of Party Lines…

The election in the United States is another history. I can remember exactly where I was when McCain conceded. I attended one of the Obama rally and I saw the man live. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

As a Christian and an African living in the United States, it is always hard to elect sides – that is, between the Democrats and the Republicans. That is because there are legit issues that confront me in making that choice, mainly from a traditional and historical perspective.

The Dems are traditionally viewed as liberals, with open arms to social groups that the GOP, for their conservatism, would not welcome. It is for that sense of condemnation from the GOP gay groups, blacks and other social minorities would rather support the Dems. It is for the same GOP’s sense of moral soundness that Christians (or rather evangelicals) flock to the GOP.

The independents, of course, swing either way.

We all have the right to associate ourselves with any party we want, because our political affiliations are driven by our personalities.

Maybe I am on of those who fall into the independents category, because I honestly think being stuck with either the Dems or the GOP is crazy.

While I can understand the legit reasons for associating with the Democratic Party as a black person, should the color of my skin alone be enough for me to support the ideals of the Democratic Party? Can any black person stand up and testify that they earned a PhD simply because there was a Democratic president in power?

Likewise, being a Christian is not a guarantee that the Republican Party is automatically suitable for me. Seriously, did you see the craziness that transpired during the Sarah Palin campaigns ? I can understand the whole idea of social conservatism, which it tied to the Christian faith, but what about skinheads and members of the KKK who are typically GOP supporters?

Even more, can anyone stand up and testify that in the past eight years, morality improved in the United States under George W. Bush?

Does this have anything to do with Tanzania? You bet. Just like Americans, Tanzanians are human beings. They are either governed by hope, faith or fear. While I don’t belong to any political parties in Tanzania, I’m of the opinion that folks vote for CCM simply out of fear and not hope for a better future. Granted, there are those who have dared to go the opposition way, but the majority still lean towards CCM.

I am not sure if the opposition in Tanzania could fare better than CCM in terms of bringing positive change, but surely it is crazy to vote along traditional party lines just for the sake of it. I think that is utter shortsightedness.

I really don’t know why folks vote either way, and I am not trying to suggest they should follow my path. Nonetheless, I would hate for someone to hijack my skin color, my faith, or inject fear in my head for their political ambitions. Besides, I don’t recall the last time a politician put food on my table.
Photo Credit: Anyone who took the photo

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama's Presidency: Blessed to Witness...

Obama's presidency will definitely go down as an historic event in the American experience. I'm just glad that I was blessed to attend one of his campaign rallies in Columbus, Ohio.

It is one thing to hear about it, but it is another to be an "I" witness...Surely, Daddy will get to tell his kids he was there when history was in the making.