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Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by BAK, Mar 27, 2011.

  1. BAK

    BAK JF-Expert Member

    Mar 27, 2011
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    The centre cannot hold when the president looses humiliation upon his ministers

    Posted Monday, March 28 2011 at 00:00

    Although William Butler Yeats’s poem, “Second Coming” has to be appreciated for its frightening apocalyptic imagery, Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, whose title was borrowed from the poem, downloads its imagery to a more accessible African reality, pitting a creeping modernity against old cultural and spiritual values.

    It has become customary today to employ the phrase, “things fall apart” whenever something goes wrong, however slightly that going wrong maybe.

    Things fall apart when a promising soccer team inexplicably starts losing matches in a row. They fall apart when a couple breaks up. They even fall apart when someone knocks into a table, spilling revellers’ drinks. This is a clear mistreatment of Yeats’s lines, penned in the ominous period between the two World Wars.

    But it may not be all that exaggerated to use the expression in the context of Tanzanian politics these past few months, for it does indeed look like some things are falling apart in the sense that Yeats meant, with “The falcon cannot hear the falconer/ Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”

    The signs are everywhere, from the faith healer buried deep in the bush of Loliondo, drawing endless queues of an obviously diseased populace, to the squabbling within ruling party circles, to the bizarre sight of the head of state dressing down his ministers in the full glare of television cameras, to a minister accusing five unnamed European countries of funding an opposition party to destabilise the country…

    That desperate people with all sorts of ailments should abandon conventional hospitals and line up for weeks in the wilderness waiting to “drink from the cup,” and that no one with the authority to do so has had the decency to say anything about the claims of the therapeutic qualities of “the cup” is, to put it mildly, disturbing.

    But maybe we should not be expecting too many people in government to stick their necks out to say things they believe to be right when there is a danger they might be publicly upbraided by their president?

    A couple of ministers have had to endure this public humiliation by President Jakaya Kikwete recently, and I doubt many of their colleagues are in a hurry to follow suit.

    Particularly hurting was the occasion where the minister for infrastructure was defending his resolute action in demolishing illegal structures erected on road reserves.

    The president effectively ordered his minister to stop being a bully and be more humane, to think of the plight of those poor people whose properties would be destroyed.

    What better gift could the president have thrown in the lap of the land grabbers in chaotic Dar es Salaam?

    In other instances he was shown on TV berating two lady ministers over this or that failing in their respective ministries, including one who is a minister of state in the very President’s Office! Some people have not yet got over this one.

    When Kikwete took over the country in 2005, he immediately embraced the practice of MBWA (Management by Walking About), moving from ministry to ministry, listening to performance reports, asking questions and handing out marching orders.

    The people loved it because they were afforded a rare insight into the doings of government and hoped the new boss would be kicking backsides.

    Doing the same MBWA gimmicks five years later has only given rise to yawns and unhappy laughter. What good was the first MBWA round if nothing came of it?

    And, if all the president’s men (and women) are not performing, whose fault is it if he is the one who hired, and can fire, them?

    Criticising one’s lieutenants in public only serves to demoralise them and to send a message to whoever is watching that you are not in charge.

    Was it Harry Truman who put up a sign on his desk in the Oval Office saying, THE BUCK STOPS HERE?

    He was right. People expect the boss to wash all his linen in private, in Cabinet, say, and come out to own everything his government has done. He shouldn’t be passing the buck.

    Jenerali Ulimwengu, chairman of the board of Raia Mwema newspaper, is a political commentator and civil society activist based in Dar es Salaam. E-mail:
  2. G

    Gad ONEYA JF-Expert Member

    Mar 27, 2011
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    Fantastic, Jenerali has a very positive independent opinionated mind.Brevo for this.