Friday, June 27, 2008


After spending all years to get to the top, the honorable President Jakaya Kikwete (Jack), find himself in precarious condition. That is in the box, literally. To his left he sided with die hard CCM loyalist members who want to get rid of pervasive corruption (but so is the entire country); and to the right he has CCM corrupted elites, who would sell their own mothers if they could find buyers. Jack, the man re-known for wanting to be the president from early in his youth, might have thought that running for the top post was a popularity contest. Now, that he has finally attained his most coveted post, he realizes that running the government is different from a presidential campaign.

As the popular quote goes, “be careful what you ask for, you might receive it”; Jack asked and received it, with about 80% majority electoral vote. Now, at a crucial point in his Presidency, he can’t decide whether to side with CCM party faithful as well as the entire country to the left, or with few of his CCM colleagues and friends to the right. So the man has resorted to escape the heat by going overseas every chance he gets. Jack still continues to function as if he is foreign affair minister he used to be, simply by preoccupying himself with his endless trips overseas. In a country and a political system that has not developed independent institutions capable of decision making, so as he goes, every decision awaits. Someone ought to tell him that being a president involves making tough decisions, and that no amount of escapism will resolve these issues. The fact is effective governing requires him to put national priorities ahead of his party rightwing friends and colleagues in the interest of all Tanzanians. Yet, this is not the case, Jack is more comfortable discussing about other African crisis like Zimbabwe, Kenya and Darfur than the domestic isles CUF-CCM muafaka crisis, the EPA scandal, the Kiwira looting or the Richmond saga.

The prospect for Mr. Kikwete is much gloomier at the moment as people begin to withhold the benefit of the doubt. As one read the mood of the country, one wonders if and when the transition is over and that Jack has time to learn to govern. The question remain who really run the country, is Mkapa and is old cronies still pull the strings behind the curtain, while the country wishes for justice resolution of all past sins. Is Mkapa, Yona, Chenge”vijisenti”, Karamagi and Rostam Aziz really control the pulse string of CCM party and therefore run the de-facto government? One would think that the 80% majority of voters have a voice, but that would be an illusion. Apparently, we got duped again, this time however, at least with a man endowed with the natural gift of political fluency, so the musical chairs continue.

This administration must realizes that effective governing requires less speeches and more action in terms of building consensus across party lines, and enacting policy and laws that aim to improve citizens’ lives. Furthermore, there is a need for strong, credible and effective governing institutions that have the confidence of the citizens and the ability to deliver this administration mandate. All these things matters, because there is a strong connection between human development and quality of governance. The current scandals have bogged down the government, and therefore failure to implement services delivery at the national and local levels of governance. So the question remain why is the president allowing himself to be defined by all too public scandals of previous administration, which in turn has derailed implementation of his mandate?

In the mean time speaking of effective governing institutions, there are some signs of change in the parliament. Both the main party and the opposition, at least few members appear to be fed up. So with President unwilling or indecisive to tackle difficult decisions, nothing seems to be moving, few MP’s have taken the bull by the horn. That the current state of affairs in Tanzania demands desperate measures, as clearly these are desperate times. If fireworks in the chamber for the past two weeks are anything to go by, this is a positive sign if sustainable. The country esteem goes to those MP’s who would not be cowered by witchcraft or intimidation.

Yet, there is not a lot to be desired by the current set of MP’s. Few on the CCM side have gone further to suggest, that law does not matter at all. The fact that one of theirs has broken laws, by looting the poor constituents of representative own district, that particular crime does not count. The reason given by the veteran MP is that the man did not use the gun to rob anyone. More case at point, not only you have elected representative in the parliament who do not understand their basic duties, but also have failed at honoring the constitution and the laws that they have enacted. Whereas Parliament, as the institution representing the citizens of the Union, exists in the last instance in order to defend those citizens' interests and do so without prejudice to the above, it is Parliament's duty to ensure that the institutional balance established in the treaties is rigorously respected at all times, one has to inform those representatives.

So with a little less than two years left on his first term, Jack destiny seems to end where Mr. Mkapa is right now, with botched legacy and public humiliation. While it might be too soon to write his political obituary, for now at least, the job he had so long coveted appears to be an overwhelming burden to once affable and lean Mr. Kikwete.