THE MILITARY SHOULD PREPARE TO SALUTE A NEW COMMANDER IN CHIEF By. M. M. Mwanakijiji All the armed forces of Tanzania should ready themselves psychologically and instrumentally to have a new commander in chief early in November. This is absolutely necessary to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition from the fourth phase government of President Jakaya Kikwete to a new government led by Dr. Willibrod Slaa of CHADEMA. Failure to have this readiness by our security forces will invite chaos and uncertainty in the country and will ultimately lead to an atmosphere of anxiety, fear and God forbid, bloodshed. It is a categorical imperative that our armed forces which include Tanzania People's Defense Forces, Police, Paramilitary, TISS etc. should accept a theoretical possibility that the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi may lose the Presidency during the upcoming elections of October 31st, 2010. After almost 49 years of mediocrity and dismal performance at the helm of our nation's leadership CCM will find itself outside government for the first time. Since the first general elections following the reintroduction of multiparty democracy in Tanzania, the people of Tanzania have shown a new piquancy in the politics of their nation by supporting en masse an opposition candidate Dr. Willibrod Slaa. It is a known fact that if it were not for the support that CCM received from the Founding Father Mwalimu Nyerere in 1995 elections Mrema would have done way better as an opposition candidate who threatened the ruling party at its very core. Fortunately enough, at this juncture of our history a number of factors are inclined to favor Dr. Slaa than those existed when Augustine Mrema made his first ran in 1995. Three of them need to be mentioned. First, the easy accessibility and availability of information will play a paramount role in catapulting Dr. Slaa to greater heights of his political ambition. There are more independent media outlets now than ever before in the country, freer with greater coverage exercising unprecedented level of free expression of speech. With the availability of the internet through fiber optics, regular phone lines, wireless broadband and through other handheld devices the Tanzanian of today has more ways to access information than just few years ago. Not only to access it but to also to disseminate it either to the public or to close circle of family and friends. Secondly, the rise of Dr. Willibrod Slaa as a credible opponent to incumbent Kikwete has come to a nation longing for a new brand of political leadership; a leadership that is bold, visionary, and crystal clear to what it wants to do to the nation, for the nation and with the nation. Tanzanians have come to admire and respect Dr. Slaa for quite sometime now since he publicly dared to announce the names of public officials whom he accused of grand corruption, abuse of power, misappropriation of public funds and failure to put the welfare of the nation first. Dr. Slaa did this for the first time in the parliament during the budgetary session of 2007 and the second time in an outdoor mass rally at Mwembeyanga in Dar-es-Salaam. Once he crossed that line from fear to courage he elevated himself and his party from a mere group of angry opposition to a group positioned to challenge the status quo in ways never seen before in our young nation history. Only Oscar Kambona before him had attempted a similar dexterous stunt albeit without much success, now forgotten in history. Those named and accused publicly some fled the country while others threatened to take Dr. Slaa to court for what they called at the time the "unfounded accusations". Three years later a number of them stand now in our courts accused and charged while others are still waiting to be arraigned (if we were to take Dr. Kikwete's government words seriously). The third factor emerges from the other two; the willingness of Tanzanians to question their government in ways never thought possible just five years ago. When the Richmond scandal emerged Tanzanians discovered that the new administration of President Kikwete was not that different from that of Mkapa and possibly President Mwinyi before. They recognized that corruption has found a throne within CCM's upper ranks and the Buzwagi incidence which led to suspension of Zitto Kabwe from parliament confirmed their worst fears. The Dowans power contract scandal as well as the Meremeta revelations that followed and mostly the massive swindling of EPA funds by an organized crime ring made Tanzanians aware for the first time of the immense level and depth of corruption in their government and the ruling party with no one seem to have been able to bring it under containment. Other issues of squandering public moneys by different government ministries, agencies and institutions as reported and outlined by the Chief Auditor General in his reports became battle cries for ethical and disciplined leadership. All these became cause celebre for the opposition in general and Dr. Slaa in particular. Tanzanians for the first time in public and without fear question their government and sometimes rejected government statements. The worst of it all is when the government through its security agencies declared publicly that the country has been "hijacked" and that apprehending all members of the organized crime ring that facilitated the EPA theft would lead to "explosion" in the country. Tanzanians had had enough. The confluence of these factors created an opportunity never to have been possible just few years ago. Dr. Slaa then became a hero of his own making as well as a hero that history made. Over these few years Dr. Slaa has continued to champion for responsible government, public ethics, transparency in government and accountability for those holding public offices. He has distinguished himself as a true statesman among a handful Tanzanians. It is for this reason that when CHADEMA announced that he was their lone choice for presidential candidate it came out as a shock to some people. To CCM he was the last individual they would have wanted President Kikwete to run against and to some political analysts and activist like me he was the rational choice for CHADEMA. We knew then that all the political and government machinery would be unleashed against Dr. Slaa in ways and means not ever been attempted before. And yes unleashed they were! It all started with accusing him of being a failure because he was laicized by the Vatican – a legal process of removing a catholic priest his priestly functions and return him to a lay status. Some accused Dr. Slaa of failure to live his ordination promises accusations that Dr. Slaa easily put to rest by explaining that it was the conscious understanding of this calling that he chose not to continue as a priest and followed the church guidelines on dispensation of his priestly duties. From that accusation others followed some even bordering to pure harassment of personhood. But all that has not put a noticeable dent in Dr. Slaa's rise in popularity nor has it instilled fear among his followers, supporters and members of his political party. He has continued to gain more support all over the country rural and urban. From the golden belt of Lake Victoria to sparkling sands of Tanga's sleepy Coast; from the chilly and cloudy mountain towns of Arusha and Moshi to the freezing and highland towns of Songea and Iringa; yes indeed! From the sugar canes valleys and springs of Kilombero basin to a mighty metropolis of Dar-es-Salaam's incredibly sunny and salty streets and everywhere in between and everywhere between them Dr. Slaa is instilling an Armageddon-like fear to the failed political regime of our days. It is shaking, doubting itself and unclear of what might come to it on November 1st, 2010 as election results become clearer and clearer of an incredible upset in post independence African political history when Dr. Slaa is pronounced the presidential victor against all odds and against the mighty Kikwete and his mighty party. O the day when the mighty fall, O the day longed by all! Yes! when the sons and daughters of our beautiful land will voice their choice through the ballot box on October 31st, 2010 something unique will probably happen that most people never thought they would live to see; a change in political make up of our nation. A new president from a different party will be elected with a huge number of new MPs, and Councilors all over the country. The famed story of CCM's monopoly of power will forever be rewritten not by the famed intellectuals of our days but by the ordinary individuals who have set a date with history to vote that day. That prophecy of which I wrote about three years ago is moving faster to be fulfilled and it seems it has chosen this year to become a reality. No army, nor political party, no laughter or tears will defer the collapse of the ruling party at the ballot box on that historical day. It is this theoretical possibility my friends that our armed forces must intellectually accept and ready themselves for. I know that most of them can not fathom that such a thing would happen in Tanzania within few days, some of them possibly don't want it to happen. If the later is the case, then somebody is in for a rude awakening. If I were a betting man, I would not advice anyone to bet against fate. Without preparing themselves for this new dawn in Tanzania the security forces are not putting the welfare of the nation first. And if there was going to be bloodshed on our soil it would be because of the ordinary Tanzanians exercising their constitutional rights but due to the failure of our security forces of our country to prepare themselves for a smooth and peaceful power transfer from Kikwete to Slaa's government. Reading the unspoken message by Lt. Gen. Abdurrahman Shimbo over the weekend I'm more than concerned that our military and police are preparing themselves to force Tanzanians to accept a leader not elected by them simply because the security forces don't want him. This, my friends is a dangerous proposition. It is for this reason, I condemn in all possible strongest terms any plan or arrangement that would not let the election process be free, fair and transparent for all to see. I call for an immediate statement from our military leadership to assure the country that they would remain neutral in this political and democratic process and will be willing and ready to ensure that the election will be peaceful and the results will be respected by all parties including the incumbent. I'm more worried that recently CCM's has stopped using its popular motto of "more speed, more energy and more zeal" to "ushindi ni lazima" literally "no matter what, a win is a must". I wonder at what cost are they willing to ensure their victory. I pray to God and to the memory of our ancestors that CCM will not lead our nation into temptation. I'm calling for all Tanzanians at home and abroad to demand that CCM must declare publicly that if their candidate were to lose this election he and his part party will accept the results, respect the people's choice and will ensure that there is a peaceful transition of power in the country. I hope our development partners will put pressure to CCM to do so. In the absence of such a statement from President Kikwete himself (who is the Chairman of the ruling party) will fuel the fear that CCM is colluding with the military and NEC to cook results that will ultimately bring an end to our experiment with and install a dictatorship of a political minority. Even more, I'm calling for the National Election Commission to publicly calm the nation from fears that its work will not be independent enough to guarantee credible election. There is fear among members of the opposition and the public as well that NEC will be pushed by the failed political elite to act inappropriately and illegally to declare a winner knowing that once presidential results are announced they can not be challenged in any court. This brings us to what happened in Kenya where their electoral law at the time was very similar to ours with the "no challenge" clause. The bloodshed in Kenya occurred not because of the opposition but because of the colossal failure of public officials entrusted to hold a free and fair election to ensure impartiality and transparency in electoral process. This, I believe continue to be the greatest factor that may lead to unnecessary bloodshed following the upcoming election in Tanzania. It is for this reason that the words of Gen. Shimbo have just increased fear that contract to his promise that "no blood will be shed in this country" some have already smelled something more dangerous and cunning in the making. I will no be surprised if in few days as we move toward the election there will be demonstrations of police force and even military abilities to intimidate Tanzanians either from voting or celebrating their inevitable victory. My friends, since our independence and union until now there is only one single entity in our history that has shed blood of innocent Tanzanians for political reasons. Only CCM and its government have a history of using unmeasured force to quell political or civil disturbances in the country. From the alleged massacre of 50 people in Bulyanhulu in 1996, the Mwembechai killings of 1998 and the Pemba killings of 2001 all attest to one reality, only CCM and its governments both on the mainland and in the Isles have unchecked proclivity of using force even deadly sometimes for political expediency. In this context only CCM will cause bloodshed in Tanzania and only them should be held accountable for it. I urge the members of our military and security forces to restrain themselves from obeying illegal or immoral orders as per our military code of conduct and rules of engagement. Our forces should not dare to raise their tax-payers-paid weapons against their fellow citizens for CCM's gain or any individual politician advantage. Our soldiers have moral and ethical duties to disobey an order given for political reasons. If they choose to obey these orders and harm Tanzanians they should know that no efforts will be spared to bring them to justice at home or abroad. They will be tried for war crimes or other crimes under international treaties or laws of our own is not adequate enough The era of fear of our own military is forever gone and a new dawn of hope has finally come with its bright light shining not from a far distance. The military and everyone should understand this new dream, a dream soon to be realized. Otherwise, they need to change the name from Tanzania's People Defense Forces to Tanzanian Rulers Defense forces. Our armed forces should ready themselves to salute a new commander in chief in few weeks; for my friends hope and change have kissed, peace and justice have found a home in Tanzania. It is the role of Tanzanian military to salute a new commander in chief; it is quintessential Tanzanian. Contact me: Mwanakijiji@mwanakijiji.com Note to Editors: The above article can be republished in an abbreviated format without altering the substance of the message and with the name of the author and this forum cited. Copying rights to reprint and redistribute are here by granted.