Mr President, fire the Cabinet; then start afresh By KARL LYIMO firstname.lastname@example.org The East African I am not going to say that Tanzanias President Jakaya Kikwete is in a bind. But, he is perhaps the most beleaguered president in the region today. He was elected with an 80.28 per cent majority in December 14, 2005, having vanquished nine other presidential candidates who, together, garnered the remainder out of the 11,365,477 total votes cast. The result was astounding. It dangerously careened towards mono-party political systems and one-horse election races. IT WAS equally full of promise. Tanzanians believed they had finally got the president they needed one with unquestionable mandate to haul them out of the socio-economic backwaters they had been wallowing in. With an 80 per cent voter mandate backed by a 90 per cent majority in Parliament, the government had the necessary clout to make an indelible impression on crucial matters. In which case Tanzania had nowhere to go but up and forward. However, less than two years down the presidential road, Kikwete must be asking himself: What happened? Where did I/we go wrong? FOR QUITE some time now, the government has been all but publicly hanged, drawn and quartered like a common criminal. The privately-owned mass media seems to have teamed up in an alliance with the political opposition, academia, a few foreign diplomatic and other missions as well as the ordinary citizens against the government. Their mission has been as noble and bold as can ever be: Requiring the government to account for the way it has been handling state affairs, especially in the social and economic areas. ALLEGATIONS ARE rife regarding downright corruption by principal leaders in the current and past government and other public institutions. Allegations against at least 11 such leaders including the president and his immediate predecessor, Benjamin Mkapa are now a matter of public record in the print media and on the Internet. Several ministers and top civil servants in sensitive ministries such as the Treasury, Mining and Energy as well as the Governor of the Bank of Tanzania have been publicly accused of involvement in graft. CRUCIAL multimillion-dollar government contracts have been signed under alleged dubious circumstances. For instance, the now infamous Buzwagi Mining Contract is said to have been signed with Barrick Gold Corporation in a private London hotel on a Saturday, while the Richmond power procurement contract was signed at midnight! TANZANIANS ARE now up in arms. They want the government brought to account through independent, all-embracing probe teams, not through government-controlled institutions such as the docile Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau. Ominous signs are already surfacing, what with a Barrick helicopter forced down by irate rock-throwing villagers in Tarime District on October 11. The situation is getting worse by the day yet, none of the suspected leaders has stepped aside to allow independent investigations let alone take responsibility! THE BEST way to contain the situation now is for the entire Cabinet to step down so that Kikwete can start afresh and justify the overwhelming mandate given to him by the people. Karl Lyimo is a freelance journalist based in Dar.