Use force to stay in power, the state will ultimately fail By KARL LYIMO firstname.lastname@example.org The term failed state is, to say the least, frightening. It implies a state that has gone to the dogs. It means a country whose state organs have virtually stopped functioning in the national interest, disappointing the expectations and trust of the people they were intended to serve, and the comity of nations. The US think-tank Fund for Peace, and the Foreign Policy magazine, annually publish a Failed States Index. During 2006-07 Somalia, Zimbabwe, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chad, Haiti, Central African Republic and Uganda were among the listed but not Kenya or Tanzania! FAILED STATES SNUGLY FIT THE EX-pression Give a dog a bad name and hang him. Their reputation has been lost and nothing they do, however creditable it might be, gains public approval. One can reasonably say that Kenya is nowhere near a failed state not yet, anyway. Nor, for that matter, is Tanzania. But the tragic events that are unfolding in the two founder countries of the five-member East African Community give pause for thought. FOLLOWING KENYAS 2007 GENERAL elections, that country is undergoing unprecedented post-colonial internal violence. Consequently, over 600 people have already died, thousands are internally displaced or exiled while about 500,000 need humanitarian aid; all totally uncharacteristic of Kenya. Rioting was triggered by controversial results declaring the incumbent, Mwai Kibaki, re-elected. Thereafter, Mr Kibaki was sworn into office with unseemly haste. KIBAKIS ANTAGONIST, RAILA ODINGA and his Orange Democratic Movement secured more than twice the parliamentary seats won by Kibakis Party of National Unity. Odingas team also won the parliamentary speakers seat. Last week, an eminent Africans team headed by ex-United Nations boss Kofi Annan to mediate between the two. So much for Kenya. In Tanzania, a groundswell of social and economic destabilisation has been triggered by rampant corruption. The media is full of revelations regarding new and old acts of fraud involving billions of shillings in public funds and other resources. THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG IS THE ERNST & Young audit that exposed losses of Tsh133 billion ($127 million) at the central bank in the 2005/06 financial year alone, leading to the sacking of Governor Daudi Balali. Nobody knows how deep the rot goes but unless and until the Kikwete presidency clears it out, Tanzania is headed for dire straits. BUT WERE THE PRESIDENT TO ACT, HE could well bring the government/civil service down. Judging by the continuing revelations, there is not a single ministry or other government organ that has not been ravaged by massive and malignant sleaze beginning in the 1980s. And, like malignant cancer, the corruption calls for drastic action, including the loss of limb or life. That is how nations embark on the road to failed states: Serious erosion of legitimate authority to make decisions in the public interest; unnecessary and widespread use of force to remain in power; widespread corruption and criminality; sharp economic decline, involuntary displacement of populations, and failed interactions with other states. Where are Kenya and Tanzania today on this scale?