Love or loathe him, Mzee Joseph Butiku is a man you cannot simply pass eyes through. I personally admire him like I used to be in awe of Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere (RIP). The two seem to share the same attributes. Like Mwalimu, Butiku is not economical with the truth because he can call a spade a spade. Like Mwalimu, he is not a coward or he is un-tishable to use the contemporary kiswangilish! Like Mwalimu, Butiku seems to abhor corruption to the core. Forget about the opposition parties kid antics on good governance. Butiku means business. Listen to this; In his twilight years the man has threatened to take his fimbo (walking stick), put on his mgolole (tunic), and lie in the middle of the road until the dreaded anti riot police- FFU (Fanya Fujo Uone) forcefully takes him off the road or if push comes to shove teargas him, after all he has nothing to lose except his nausea (kichefuchefu)!
Mzee Butiku is the former Principal Private Secretary (PPS) of the late President Nyerere and as a close confidant of Mwalimu, he seems to have grasped very well the lessons of good leadership tutored to him by his mentor. As fate would have it, Butiku is currently the Executive Director of the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation (MNF) headed by the erstwhile OAU Secretary General Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim. Amongst other things MNF is preoccupied with governance issues of which Butiku seem to be well versed.
To commemorate the 10th Anniversary of Nyereres death, MNF recently organized a symposium in Dar Es Salaam and invited the whois-who of Tanzania to partake. There were many topical issues that were discussed but the most notable was the status of the nation and its leadership. This was conspicuous because it was a widely reported issue especially in the print media. Also it appears to have touched on raw nerves within the ruling party and the public given the hysteria that ensued. Under this topic speaker after speaker put President Kikwetes leadership under the spotlight highlighting many shortcomings particularly on corruption and good governance or lack of it.
But it was Mzee Butiku who stole the limelight from the likes of Judge Joseph Warioba and other big wigs. While other speakers were like talking in tongues and parables for the people to decipher for themselves the real meaning of their criticisms against the establishment, Butiku did not mince words. This business of dishing out money for votes started in 1995 during CCM primaries to nominate the CCM flag bearer during 1995 presidential elections where Mr. Mkapa emerged the winner. Butiku revealed. He carried on In fact there was one politician who was dispensing money to the CCM youth delegates and I went and confronted him. Mr. so-and-so why are you dishing out money which you know is from a foreign country to influence voters? Why dont you give this sullied money to the CCM youth organization to start economic ventures? At this moment we are told Dr. Salim and Judge Warioba were shifting uneasily in their seats while signaling Butiku to stop spilling the beans! But Butiku was adamant. Let me talk because I dont like to die with this
According to Butiku when the then Chairman of CCM former President Ali Hassan Mwinyi announced the decision to the effect that one of the candidates was to drop out of the race the conference went berserk and the chairman lost control of the proceedings with the youth delegates causing a bedlam. It took the personal charisma of Mwalimu Nyerere to bring back the meeting to order. Butiku alleges that this was the beginning of the so called mtandao (network) which eventually brought President Kikwete to power in 2005. It is this mtandao which is a source of so much instability in CCM and is rocking Kiwetes leadership boat. It is a group of mainly young people. In fact the only old person in the mtandao is President Kikwete! Butiku said rhetorically. And his advise? Dr. Salim as a member of CCM National Executive Committee, please go and disband this mtandao menace before it becomes a monster This is Butikus clarion calling to CCM.
Dear reader, you need not be a soothsayer to know whom Butiku was talking about. That is from the person who was acting like an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in 1995 to the intended beneficiary of the alleged vote buying. According to Butiku it is this kind of Machiavellian politics, so to speak, which has come back to haunt President Kikwetes leadership because his Presidency is a virtual prisoner and at the mercy of fellow mtandao compatriots and big businesspeople who in one way or the other had a hand in Kikwetes ascendancy to the throne. For instance, to get a job in the current administration one must be vetted by the mtandao first and the verdict very much depends on whose presidential candidates side you buttered during 2005 CCM primaries. It is this kind of things which are creating disharmony in CCM and eroding the Presidents efforts to deliver what he promised in the election manifesto. Good Governance can only come about when leaders are chosen on merit and professionalism rather than comradeship and appeasement. The symposium observed.
This is the second time (the first was in 2007) Butiku is coming out full throttle to speak against bad governance, unethical behavior and calling to order the top leadership of this country. Like a prophet he is foresighted, unwavering, forthright and reprimanding because he says he wants a peaceful and prosperous Tanzania for this and future generations. As long as he lives and with a sound mind Butiku says he will not stop speaking against bad governance come rain or shine. Anti-graft campainers can walk chest thumping knowing well that they have Butiku firmly behind them Butiku affirmed.
Mzee Butikus (and others) utterances and stance sent shockwaves far and wide. The CCM Secretary General, Yusuf Makamba could not take this lying down and swiftly summoned the press where he went native by calling names President Kikwetes critics as jealousy driven, sour-grapers, rogues and invalids! These views were partly echoed by President Kikwete when he came back from a foreign trip with the President promising to look into some of the criticisms and respond accordingly. With this reaction it is obvious that the criticisms seem to have rattled the top leadership out of its hole this time around thanks to Butiku and company.
MNF should be commended for organizing this symposium which has indeed kicked off a lively and healthy debate on national issues although the possible consequences from the backlash on the foundation are not yet clear. But under the stewardship of Dr. Salim and Mzee Butiku there is no doubt that MNF will keep the Nyerere spirit alive for the betterment of this great country.