Friday, January 15, 2010

JK Is Cool With Opposition, So What?

I have no idea what is going on with me, but I think have lost my writing mojo or it is just I am bored with the same old crap. It is kind of hard to talk about the same thing over and over again, you know? For instance, did you hear about Minister Ngeleja’s crazy stuff?

Now, stuff like that makes realize how crazy the Tanzanian society, generally speaking, is. Some of that craziness makes you realize that it would take more than my blog to change the course.

So what really got me out of a self-imposed hiatus? It is this piece of opinion posted by my fellow Bongolander, Professor Mbele (Hi Professor!). Read on…

Now, what’s the general idea that Professor is professing? It is that Jakaya Kikwete should be elected for another 5-year term simply because he is mature politically as evidenced by him being “buddy-buddy” with opposition parties.

I hope the professor is just kidding. Otherwise, that is the craziest endorsement I have ever come across.

To see my point, let ask ourselves this fundamental question: why was Kikwete elected in the first place? Wasn't it because he convinced Tanzanians that he was capable of delivering on his promises? I think we can go back to the 2005 CCM’s election manifesto to see exactly what JK promised to do. For instance, remember the promise to bring Tanzania into the hari mpya, kasi mpya world? Well, you be the judge.

I have to agree with Professor Mbele that this was all his opinion. Nonetheless, I would just like to add that opinions don’t come out of blues. They are typically rooted in our belief and value system, past experiences, personalities, and other factors. As such, what I am reading from Professor Mbele is that he is putting more value on JK’s social tendencies than delivered tangible and measureable results for the benefits of Tanzanians.

And that is crazy if you ask me.

Personally, I don’t care if JK is able to kiss and hold hands with Professor Lipumba or Zitto Kabwe than his predecessors. What I care about is that my mom in Shirati has running water, Tanzanians can go for 365 days without power interruption, and folks like Ngeleja get booted out of power, just to name a few things that I believe most Tanzanians care about.

If making out with the opposition is truly an important factor for reelecting JK – how come then, under JK’s watch, the Muafaka thing between CUF and CCM is going around in circles? Isn’t telling so much about JK’s true resolve to hug and embrace the opposition?

The existence of the multiparty system in Tanzania, regardless of how well or bad it has functioned, is not a question of some favor from CCM. It is a Constitutional right. It is a legal matter. As such, respecting those that hold a different political view shouldn’t be an exception, but a norm. If respecting the Constitution is the main reason Kikwete should be re-elected, then we have more than 1 million Tanzanians who are qualified for the office of presidency, me included.

Furthermore, calling for Kikwete’s re-election on the basis of “political maturity” is just plain lowering the expectation of Tanzanians. And that is insulting. And that is also disappointing, especially when such a call is coming from someone like Professor Mbele who has lived and worked in the United States, where expectations typically go higher.

Seriously, what about endorsing JK for improving educational system, economic progress, reduction of graft, for instance?

Well, we know he didn’t do well on those areas, don’t we?
Photo credit: Mjengwa


Mbele said...

Hello, in that very short article, I was addressing one dimension of Kikwete, which I consider vital. I was writing a newspaper column, limited to about 800 words.

If you are really interested in knowing a little more about my thoughts on Kikwete, the Tanzanian political, social, economic and cultural situation, look for my many writings and read them. You can also read my recent book, in which I have several articles about Kikwete.

You also need to keep in mind that I am not interested in pretending that any kind of writing can be definitive. I stated very clearly that I was aiming to provoke discussion. The book is here.

Jaduong Metty said...


For your current article, you will never hide under the pretext of an 800-words limit. That is because at the end of the day, you communicated well what you wanted to the world to know. How many words, really, do you need to tell the world that you think Kikwete stinks or is the greatest ever? You can say that in less than 100 words.

Regardless of what reflections you have given on Kikwete in the past, I think it is very clear that your current article under discussion did one thing – endorsement of Kikwete. As such, from a purely intellectual standpoint, you either defend your arguments or fold. It is unfortunate that in response to my arguments, you chose to cower under the 800-words limit.

Once you endorse someone; that endorsement sticks, regardless of their evils you might have highlighted in the past. Unfortunately, I found your reason for endorsement to be very disappointing.

Mbele said...

What is wrong with defending JK? Is that a taboo? Didn't you say that you understand the meaning of political freedom and constitutional rights?

Your attitude proves my point, that JK is more mature politically than many people. Obviously, he is more mature than you.

While you storm and rave simply because I expressed my view of JK, JK respects people who hold different political and ideological views.

It is equally troubling that you refuse to look at the other things I have written about JK, the broader economic, social, political, cultural, and educational issues. You adamantly want to look at only this one article.

I thought you were open-minded, committed to intellectual curiosity. You are proving my assumption wrong.

Your statement that once you endorse someone, the endorsement sticks, is quite a novelty. I thought people had the capacity to think and change their minds.

I explained why I endorse JK. Do I need to explain to you that such an endorsement is conditional, that if JK ceases to meet the criteria, I will not endorse him? But here you are, claiming that once made, an endorsement sticks. I wonder what you mean.

You found my endorsesement disappointing. Obviously, JK is better than people of your kind. He is not disappointed simply because someone holds a different political opinion. He respects people's different viewpoint. If the alternative is people of your kind, I heartily endorse JK.

Jaduong Metty said...


We don’t need to get all emotional about this stuff. Didn’t you say that you were expecting a debate on this issue? If so, why in the world are you sounding annoyed by my challenge then? Why are you even sounding mad at me for being disappointed at your article?

Let’s focus on the main issue, which isn’t me, my attitude or “people of my kind”, but the ideas you put forth in your article.

Let me assure you of this - there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you defending JK. As a matter of fact, it is your prerogative to express your opinions. Nonetheless, the thrust of my reflection wasn’t whether it was wrong of you to endorse JK, but on the whether JK’s attitude towards the opposition should be the reason for endorsing him for the presidency.

There’s a clear difference there.

Honestly, discussions like this could sound beautiful from an academic standpoint, but at the end of the day, we have to gauge whether they have redemptive effect or not on the lives of fellow citizens. I have very little to gain or lose from JK’s presidency, but there are more than 80% of my fellow Bongolanders who would truly benefit from a steady power supply, running water, good schools, etc.

Those things do matter, a whole lot. And it is for that reason; I found the whole “buddy-buddy” stuff with the opposition to be very light of a reason to endorse someone for presidency, given what the majority of Tanzanians go through on a daily basis.

It is a good thing you have written many articles and reflections on JK. However, at the end of the day, what does your scorecard say after combining all of JK’s attributes and the ability to deliver? I am candidly waiting to hear that.

Anonymous said...

professor Mbele Umechemka hapo kwa kweli, focus on the argument not on the person who makes the argument... if this was to provoke a debate then debate with respect not na jazba kama ulivyoonyesha. calm down sir, Metty has a point hapo so just pull back and look at the facts then debate the issue. thanks.

Mbele said...

Actually, I was very calm when I wrote my comments yesterday. The problem is that in this kind of communication, all we see is the computer screen.

Yes, in matters of leadership, what we want, at the end of the day, is results.

Rather than making my own claims about JK's performance, I wish to share what several influential Tanzanians have said recently.

Mr. Lyatonga Mrema of TLP has been quoted in the press as saying that JK is doing a good job in fighting corruption. He cites the number of high profile individuals being brought to trial in the courts of law.

Dr. Wilbroad Slaa of CHADEMA, has said that JK is doing the right thing in providing money for programs and services to the regions. Read here.

Mr. Ole Naiko, the executive director of the Tanzania Investment Center, has said that JK's initiatives have led to a dramatic increase in foreign investments in the country. Ole Naiko cites, for example, a dramatic increase in investments from North America.

Now, you know, as much as I do, that many Tanzanians have been complaining about JK's foreign travels. But the testimony of the TIC appears to vindicate JK.

It might be too early to judge all the aspects of the impact of JK's leadership during his first term. I don't know, but time will tell.

As a person who has spent all my professional life in academic circles, I value freedom of thought and expression above many other things. Naturally, I like JK's approach to that issue in the political arena.

Every voter has his or her own reason for liking a particular candidate. Some of the reasons people gave for voting for JK in 2005 I found quite surprising, even amusing. But that is how we are as voters and citizens.

Jaduong Metty said...


I'm glad to know that you were not close to drawing a panga when you wrote your response.

That being said, you didn't respond to my request, rather you resorted to quoting others. So let me just cut and paste what I previously wrote:

"It is a good thing you have written many articles and reflections on JK. However, at the end of the day, what does your scorecard say after combining all of JK’s attributes and the ability to deliver?..."

Anonymous said...

Metty, Kuna mtu anachart na mimi kwa jina lako anasema yuko Uingereza na mamaa na watoto na ameibiwa kila kitu! Ni kweli au ni hawa ndugu zetu wa huko magharibi?. Nilipobadilisha lugha na kuongea lugha ya taifa ikawa mwisho!


Jaduong Metty said...


Huyo mtu atakuwa ndugu zetu wa magharibi ameiba info zangu. Pole sana.