By. M. M. Mwanakijiji
What if there were half revolutions? Well, in a nutshell there would be no revolutions! Our country is going through a critical point in its young history; a point of which the choices before our people are becoming more clearer and more contrasted. These choices – political in nature – are leading our people to consider serious and considerable changes in the way we are being ruled, governed and led. The changes that our people are longing for a no longer cosmetic or aesthetic; they want substantial and consequential changes. Meaning, they want changes that are observable and positive resulting into improvement of the way things are done in the country.
For this reason, the changes cannot be mere removal, transfer or recycling of incapable leadership. We are not – if I may represent similar minded persons - .looking for changes of faces. I know some would argue that such removals is the ‘first step’ toward more accountability but for me I believe we have passed the ‘first steps’ and I can even say the ‘second’ and ‘third’ steps all have been exhausted. We are in the final step – a step from which no other ordinary steps are needed except for a bloody revolution!
If the Prime Minister is removed – probably rightly so – then the parliament must be dissolved and the ruling party should return to the people for a new mandate in snap general elections. I’m convinced that it is not enough to demand resignations of the Prime Minister or a number of ministers for by doing that we are presuming that the named individuals are the sole culprits of a corrupt government. After reading the CAG’s report and listening to the debate in the National Assembly on a number of reports by Permanent Committees I’m absolutely convinced that the fundamental problem in the country is beyond the personalities, it is beyond individuals – it is a problem of a failed political party. It is a failure of its policies, the failure of the laws that it has passed, and it is a failure of the structures and infrastructures of governance that the ruling party has established over the years. It is not a problem of who the Prime Minister is or what personalities hold what ministerial position.
Let me put it differently. All that has been described vividly and graphically – sometimes with colorful language - in the parliament is nothing new. We have been here before. In 1996 Prof. Simon Mbilinyi the then Finance Minister resigned following a tax scandal as it was investigated by Parliamentary Select Committee. The Economist in its November 1996 issue described what happened this way, “A parliamentary committee investigated these and urged Mr. Mkapa to call his minister to account. Sack him say many people though that would not be easy just as Mr. Mbilinyi is completing delicate negotiations with the IMF. Not that he did anything unheard-of: his predecessors handed out exemptions with such abandon that few big local businessmen pay tax at all.” Today, like in 1996 the issue of tax exemptions is still there; unchecked and the amount those exemptions in fact offensive!
We have been here before. The report by Judge J. S. Warioba on corruption in the country implicated some high level officials one of them a Minister in Mkapa’s cabinet Mr. Juma Ngasongwa. Yes, we have been here before; Mr. Idi Simba resigned in 2001. The late Michael Okema wrote at that time on the reaction of the opposition after a proposal that the government should carry its own investigation. He quoted Dr. Slaa as wondering “The saga has been going on since April but the government has been silent. Why should it want to investigate now?” I mean the same government under the same political party, facing the same kind of issues. I said we have been here before. When Idi Simba resigned on November 6th, 1996 he said he did so to save his government from facing a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the parliament. If you don’t remember Idi Simba was the Minister of Industry and Commerce.
Did I say we have been here before? Yes we have. In 2008 following the report by the Parliamentary Select Committee several ministers resigned. Nazir Karamagi the then Minister of Mining and Energy as well as Ibrahim Msabaha the then immediate former Minister of the same ministry resigned. Few hours later the Prime Minister Edward Lowassa resigned forcing the dissolution of the cabinet. It all happened right in front of our eyes. We saw it, we believed it. For those who remember I had written few days before calling for the resignation of Lowassa; I said “it is enough” he had to go. Well, a new cabinet was sworn in under new Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, new ministers and of course a new hope was born.
Then the General Elections of 2010 came and with it a new hope for the country. When results were finalized the ruling party was overwhelmingly rejected, its policies denounced, and its leadership scolded. The Tanzanian people spoke as if with one voice – ‘we want change’. For some of us the message was clear, the ruling party should change or else! But two years in into the second term of President Kikwete we are here again; the same party, the same issues, the same kind of solutions – resignations! We have to say no this time. Resignations are not enough! Dissolution of the cabinet is not enough (we have done this during Mzee Mwinyi’s administration too), the speeches on “ni ya dhati” and “tumesikiliza wananchi” or “tunajipanga madhubuti” are not enough anymore. We need true change, not halfway changes or cosmetic changes we have had had in the past. A true democratic revolution is needed and it shouldn’t be half a revolution!
There is only one way to satisfy this new line that we should demand. As soon as the parliament agrees on accepting Zitto’s notice to call for a “no confidence vote” of the government (the Prime Minister) the parliament should call for a special session after the 14 constitutionally mandated days are over and regardless of the outcome of the vote the President should dissolve the parliament and a snap election within 90 days should be called.
I believe CCM has lost a mandate to rule, and the political thermometer of the country is very clear – change is necessary. We have seen the ruling party being rejected resoundingly in Arumeru Mashariki and the echo of this rejection is still being heard from the rock plated towns and villages of the Lake zone to the salty aired streets of the coast of the Indian Ocean; from the valleys and chilly towns of the Southern Highlands to the magnificent and glorious lands of the Northern Circuit and everything between our beautiful land the ruling party is being challenged, rejected and indeed scolded!
I believe that the parliament itself is an integral part of the problem of governance in the country. For years, we have begged them, cried, wrote and argued in a myriad of channels that things are not right our voices went to deaf ears. The parliament of Tanzania did not just wake up today and discovered that the government is corrupt! The MPs are the people responsible for enacting all laws in the country; they are responsible in allocating funds to the various government entities. When CAG says a certain agency has misused some funds, it is the parliament that is required to question and hold the people involved accountable. So, it is extremely troubling that the MPs are acting as if they were not part of the same system that created and indeed sustained the problems we are witnessing now. If the Prime Minister goes – as he should because people have lost confidence with their government – the parliament which is overwhelmingly full of CCM members should also go! No half revolutions!
The president should be given a new chance to work with his party in in writing a new election manifesto and return to the people and get a new mandate. Not only that if he is reelected then he should get a new pool of potential cabinet ministers from the current pool which so far is not as impressive as the nation would have expected.
In short, if the only changes that will come out of the current impasse in the parliament are the removal of some ministers and reappointment of others from the same failed party then we should be ready for the same outcome. Doing the same things, the same way, with the same people expecting different result is a classical definition of insanity. It is even more insane for people to expect changes from the unchanged party!
We should not be satisfied with the resignations of ministers; it is no longer enough just to resign or taking accused people to court, we need more than mere individual replacement; we need to hold the ruling political party accountable! Not just the individuals. I hope the opposition will NOT be satisfied unless, I mean unless they have hope that CCM policies are good for the country and that the problem are just few individuals and that once the ‘bad elements” are removed then the country will be better off. In that case, they should continue to help CCM to be good rulers and they should not let the Tanzanian people that CCM has failed and the country need to give it a new mandate. If the opposition believes that there are some “very good policies” from the ruling party then they should work diligently to help the ruling party for the fallacious “national interests” first argument.
To some of us the national interest is for CCM to be forced out of power by an election or its power dramatically reduced by the voters. Nothing less, nothing more. If the ministers go (the PM or others) and the parliament remain I promise you - I can guarantee it - we will be back in the same junction within few years. Remember, we have been here before.