The Citizen Article of March 26th 08. Silence is not always golden, Mr President! Someone once said that �Talking is Silver and Silence is Gold�. It�s also known that there�s an exception to every rule. Agreeing with both schools of thought, I intend to examine the exception to the rule of silence: It�s not always golden! Our President has spoken: In his last monthly address to the nation, the President Jakaya Kikwete�s attention catcher was excellent. He started his address by citing February as having seen historic events within and without our borders. My concern today is not the attention catcher, though. It�s the clincher. It was not good at all! The President concluded his speech without saying what Tanzanians were dying to hear. In his opening, he mentioned a few events that made February historic. The first, which to me (and probably to most listeners) was the most important, the most historic, and the closest to an ordinary Tanzanian's life, was what happened in our Parliament on February 6 and 7. The President just mentioned it. Thereafter, he immediately shifted gears to the colourful visit by American President George W. Bush. He talked about the visit in great depth. He talked about the hugs, the smiles, the straight lines of the parade and the appearance of soldiers that went along with the visit of a President, whose popularity rating in his own country bounces in the lower 30s in a scale of one to 100 due to his controversial foreign policy. President Kikwete talked even about what Mr Bush didn�t come for. He said Mr Bush didn't propose setting up a military base in Tanzania. Thank God for that, because I�m not sure we�ve the guts to say no to any suggestion from what Mr Kikwete normally refers to as �Wakubwa�. I�m afraid we could say �Yes, sir� to whatever bizarre suggestion from the wakubwa. What the President probably forgets is that these guys don�t just throw their stuff out like that. They first squeeze hard around a poor nation like a python attacking a goat! Their greatest enticements are financial aid and praise about democracy. Mwalimu Nyerere once said, �Small nations are like indecently dressed women. They tempt the evil-minded.� Let�s not also forget that there�s no absolutely free lunch in this world. There�s a catch to every lunch. The US, under President Bush, is said to have a national budget deficit of $5 trillion, and they�re currently on the express lane to economic recession yet they have money to give to Tanzania! As of now, it�s very hard for us to tell what Mr Bush came for and what not. Nonetheless, this visit was more of a �PR� event than a solution to Tanzania�s problems. But Mr Kikwete spent a good chunk of the airtime speaking about Mr Bush in both his January and February speeches. Some of us learnt the skill to listen to the unspoken in a hard way and we�re ready to share with our audience a few of what the President might have intended for Tanzanians to understand without him saying. What the President didn�t say were: The Mwakyembe report: Dr Mwakyembe�s report was a real historic event. The proponents and opponents of this report have one thing in common � they both agree that this was a unique episode in Tanzania�s political history. It�s the only report whose findings were transparently put to the public. Dr Harrison Mwakyembe looked right into the cameras of local media stations and boldly uttered every single word of that report. Immediately after, there were opposing views, with one group favouring the report, cheering the members for their courage; and the other group issuing death threats! That was definitely very critical and very scarying in the so-called �Haven of Peace�. Everyone should have been concerned with it; but guess what! the Head of the State chose not to. He might have thought for himself, �If they can�t understand my silence, they will never understand my words�. I might have missed something but I don�t remember to have heard anything to do with this commission in the President's address except rumours that he was behind it because he was highly upset with former Premier Edward Lowassa. I was then reminded of former President Mr Benjamin Mkapa, who arrogantly dismissed the Kissanga Committee�s report. What is the difference: the interest of the Government in power? The other event that President Kikwete didn�t talk about but we had to understand was about dissolving the Cabinet. The President gave consent to Mr Lowassa�s resignation, leading to the dissolution of the Cabinet early in February. A new cabinet is in place. But the President didn�t talk about it. He didn�t talk about the steps taken to reduce the risks of similar outcomes; neither did he tell the nation the difference between the dissolved Cabinet and the new one in terms of expected performance as opposed to faces. The economy In his 2005 election campaign, Mr Kikwete promised Tanzanians a living wage. I'm not exactly sure what the living wage meant. But the economy is not very good yet. The gulf between the �fisadis� and the have-nots increases exponentially. Our progress towards the promise of a living wage is something we would love to hear the President talk about as he did during campaign. One of the long-lasting problems of our nation is an impotent law enforcement mechanism, which becomes an incentive for corruption and fraud. The law enforcement organs are just inactive; and evidence abounds of crimes and fraud. If Mkubwa Bush said we�re the example of African democracy and one of the basic attributes of this is the right of the State to control directly or indirectly the details of government performance, why this secrecy with which our government runs its business? The economy will be built by Tanzanians. The PR visit by George Bush is getting us nowhere. The $700 million is good, but shouldn�t take all our attention amid the current political and economic crises. One of the common problems is the high amount of mismanagement and corruption of foreign aid. Why should we continue to rejoice in more aid and loans without following up where the rest went? We seem to have the notion that we can somehow change our economy by foreign aid. History has proven that line of thought to be totally wrong. Let�s roll up our sleeves and work. We�ve to remember that �the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary�. Let�s spend more time talking about our challenges in real terms. In such issues, silence is not always golden, Mr President! HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org"