- Jan 10, 2008
An Open Letter to the President
Your Excellency, Mr. President,
For some reason I thought its not good to let the wave of change come to an end without extending a word of congrats to Your Excellency, Mr. President. Bravo for the recent good work in your government. You did it!
However, my goal today isnt about what happened. Its about what comes. Most people are still stuck in what happened, trying to figure-out why this, and why that and why not her, or why not me.
I hate dwelling in the past. I therefore keep telling fellow Tanzanians that what happened is irrelevant now. Its gone. "We need to put the past where the past belongs: in the past". Our focus should now be on the future. And because there is no future in the past we need to go ahead.
But people want to spend a little more of their time back there as if someone can indeed change the past.
Ive heard some complaining that the cabinet is still big. I tell them they must have completely forgotten what it was before. We had a gigantic cabinet from which we could generate 5 Taifa Stars and a reserve player for each one of them.
Others claim that the cabinet still contains your friends! And I ask, Friends? Thats quite understandable, Mr. President. Nobody wants enemies around him, the least of all, the president.
Some have pretended to be psychics, predicting that some of the old comrades may come back to the cabinet in a not-distant future. This reminds me of the self-proclaimed prophets, way back before your presidency. They prophesized many things. They even dared say that the next president was going to be a woman! That was scary, wasnt it?
There you were; almost sure of becoming our next president, and somebody, very desperate for fame, dares to say our next president was a woman (I'm not sure what would happen if it were Malecela, who was told to change his belief to become president. And he did!)
You proved them wrong Mr. President; you can prove them wrong again by not bringing back those old folks.
The bottom line is that the President has the power to appoint whoever he wants, in fact whoever he likes. So its not unlikely to see his friends in the cabinet.
After-all who cares if all the cabinet members are his friends or theyre all his enemies? What matters is whether or not theyll deliver what is expected of them. So I would rather concern myself more with the governing mechanism than the faces, and this, Mr. President, brings me down to the key point of my letter to you: its the policy, not the faces, which will help change our country.
Im discussing today a particular aspect of our government performance, which I feel that no matter who is appointed in the cabinet there will still be deficiency if we choose to be lazy in setting our priorities right. This is law enforcement.
Mr. President we need to govern our nation by laws and the right principles. We have to be serious with the affairs of our nation. Our government needs to be credible and reputable. This is not achievable by who is in what ministry it is by what the government does. We need to have a powerful government well fortified with capable law enforcement agents.
Lack of law enforcement has been an extremely huge setback in this country. This is however a key aspect in political and social stability. This is in consideration of the fact that law enforcement is a multi-sectoral aspect overlapping across all government and non-governmental institutions. Its consequences can then be easily and rapidly transmitted across all sectors hence a deficient government.
There are an untold numbers of day to day socio-economic problems caused by an impotent law enforcement system.
I would suggest with a particular concern to improve our law enforcement mechanism. It is very ineffective. This is evidenced by your frequent appeals to leaders of our law enforcement organs to utilize their powers a good sign that they either are not aware of what they have to do and the constitutional powers they possess or they are limited by some political constraints which have to be removed prior to any lawful undertaking. In other words these chief officers are set to wait for what theyre told to do. The politicians speak; they behave! The President speaks; then they behave!
Thats a good level of loyalty Mr. President. The problem begins when you forget to speak or you happen to be out of the country like you seldom are, and will continue being; or for some reasons if what you speak doesnt get across to them as clearly as you intend.
I cant figure-out for instance why the IGP, AG or DCI should be told how to perform their responsibilities by politicians.
The disgraceful experience weve just gone through as a nation has largely been contributed by sheer weakness of a failed law enforcement system. And there are more to come if no action will be taken into the right direction.
If the legal advisors in the state house, the AG, the DCI, the Prevention of Corruption Bureau (which has changed names repeatedly recently and Ive eventually lost track of the current official name), the intelligence department and the Police force shall function freely and do what theyre expected to do we will not go through what weve just gone through again. We will not lose the money we have lost at BoT, TANESCO and in many other areas that are pending. We will not have to sell another NBC for almost a free deal.
Mr. President, were now happy that we have a new cabinet. That sounds good and very refreshing politically! Thats not the case economically though. We have spent some extra millions of tax-payers money and nobody asks the hard questions. Nobody inquires the cost of changing the cabinet and moving ministers from one place to another every time we have dissolution and reshuffles.
Nobody cares to inquire the amount of money spent in these routine investigations that could be avoided by an otherwise superior law enforcement structure.
Membership in investigation committees has recently turned out to be an advanced stage of career success in Tanzania. You happen to be appointed in a committee; you are respected as if you have just discovered the cure for HIV-AIDS.
I cant understand why we should have fully trained and full-time employees in the Police force, Intelligence, and PCB and still appoint committees regularly to do the same responsibilities these institutions are charged with. We employ a foreign agent to audit what shouldnt have happened in the first place. Dont we have citizens who can check the correctness of numbers and tell the president? Are we serious?!!
We already spent money training people (mostly overseas) yet we keep spending more of it doing what the trained should have been doing. With all seriousness Mr. President may I put forward a suggestion to attach a detailed financial report in every committee findings?
Interestingly the reports usually contain all significant and trivial information of investigation but the budget of execution. I suggest we appoint a committee to find out a total amount of money we have spent in these investigations committees since 85.
The general public needs to understand that there are untold costs in implementing these investigations and changes. And guess who pays these costs: we, the people. But we can avoid these expenses by a systematic approach to these problems.
A few important steps can be good to start with and will help us a great deal, Mr. President. These include, setting distinct boundaries between politics and law enforcement. The problem in Tanzania is that everything revolves around politics and everyone wants to become a politician. We need to quickly shift from this premise.
Another step we need to take immediately is giving law enforcement agents enough powers (or remind them of their powers) and freedom to act as independently and as impartially as possible and encourage them to use their powers.
Justice is another big challenge. Equality before the law is still a big problem, Mr. President. Tanzanians are treated differently before the law depending on their social status and/or their surnames. Thats why it is ironic to think that Tanzania is a peaceful nation. If we really are peaceful, we have just proven wrong great philosophers who claimed that there is no peace without justice, and were going to be the first society in the world to have both injustice and peace together. Something else must be out of order for these two to co-exist!
We also need to Professionalize and modernize our police force and the court system; and finally provide modern working facilities and especially excellent incentives. We have money to do these things Mr. President. The only thing we dont have is seriousness. So we need to stop our popular choruses of no funds and no budget and start working seriously.
Mr. President, Im a great believer of systematic approaches capable of yielding permanent solutions to our problems. I hold a firm belief that making systematic and permanent improvement in our law enforcement system will spare us much regrets in the future. Once again, lets be serious. We cant afford to joke while our nation is falling apart.
We can no longer continue to behave like fire fighters anymore as we cant afford creating deliberate loop-holes for our own destruction. Instead of regular appointment of committees and changing the cabinet every time we have a technical or administrative problems, lets overhaul the entire law enforcement mechanism once and for all. This should be a technical solution and not a political one.
Economic development is a far-reaching phenomenon in Tanzania if we keep on dragging with us the massive corruptions in our political system and if it still feels so cool to evade paying taxes, if people lose lives on roads due to recklessness; and if there is such a high toll of unwarranted and pre-mature deaths in hospitals; Mr. President if we still have students paying for their grades in higher learning institutions, and the selection processes depends on who theyre, and if theres still such high problems of sexual harassment in schools and work places; and if people still take pride in breaking the country laws, were yet to change our economy.
Difficult as it may sound to some of us, all these ills can be highly minimized by a good law-enforcement system. This is possible. We lose and spend more money on rapid schemes than we can invest for long term benefits. Once again Mr. President this is doable. Lets be serious.