Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fair Weather Friendship

Obama's been experiencing a little "pushback"from his client base lately. Apparently he has failed to personally pull manna from the heavens and deliver upon the impossibly high expectations that he encouraged as a candidate. To every household, with his own two Presidential hands. Heh. In a similar vein, our man Jay Kay is experiencing a little push-back from the wenyenchi. Of course, how a leader handles adversity is a wonderful demonstration of their character. Obama's an intellectual introvert and frankly doesn't need any external approval to keep his shit together. Also, he's got Michelle. Jay Kay on the other hand is struggling a little. Our President is a charismatic extrovert who has been behaving like he's lost his mojo. Term one must have been quite the education. Heh.

I know perfectly well that it is the fashion this year to focus on Jay Kay's many failings. That's just a hazard of the job: to be President means accepting the self-inflicted burden of unrealistic expectations and incessant criticism. And there is absolutely no doubting that Jay Kay has let us down by not living up to his promise of leadership.

If I had any reason to believe that Dr. Slaa would be an effective President, I would vote him in without a shred of pity for my man Jay Kay. The good doctor is intelligent, canny, brave and- most shocking in a politician- conscientious. But he's also the most effective opposition we've ever seen and without him I fear that our Bunge is going to lose its way again. There are so few good people in power, it's a damn shame to lose even one brilliant parliamentarian.

Also, let us not be disingenuous about this: The Establishment is not going to let Dr. Slaa be the President we are all hoping for. The Establishment is no joke, people. If it exhausted all good will out of the fantastically stubborn (if irascible) Benjamin Mkapa, do you honestly think it will fail to drive the good doctor clinically insane within a year? And that's the best-case scenario I can come up with. There are considerable structural and cultural impediments to "regime change" at the moment, the biggest of which is a hysterical and idiotic press that renders our political discussions in the most superficial terms. Dr. Slaa is the man we need in 2015. Opposition: get busy folks, there's a lot to do in the next five years if you're going to offer change we can believe in.

In the meantime, I have to think seriously about what to do tomorrow. I want to support Jay Kay because if there's one thing I know we can take to the bank it's his complete devotion to Tanzanians. Man loves this country and her people more than he loves his wealth and welfare*. It's a small distinction, but if you have any doubts about how important this small distinction is may I draw your attention to the post-independence history of any one of the eight countries bordering Tanzania. Please meditate upon their leadership experience at your leisure.

There is also the issue of integrity. Modern democracy has taken on some of the characteristics of consumer culture: if it doesn't make you happier/sexier/increase your income/fix your insecurities as soon as you take it home, take it back to the store and bitch at the manufacturer. As a snob, I find that behavior shockingly uncouth to say the least. We're picking a flesh and blood person, complete with design flaws, to become Public Servant Number One. Voting is not like buying a car and it shouldn't be about acquiring a Big Daddy. To get Catholic on you, voting is the sacrament and the mystery of democratic faith. We need to give this some mature consideration, for (expletive deleted)'s sake.

All of which is to say I'm sitting on a rock looking at a hard place. Do I vote in Jay Kay in the hopes that he'll grow into the President we all thought he would be in term two? Do I vote Jay Kay because I'm a stick-in-the-mud who utterly despises fair-weather friendship? Will he find his mojo again in time to handle 2015's CCM melt-down or is he an adorable but lost cause? Is Dr. Slaa a harbinger of things to come, or is this the real, crucial moment? Does one vote even matter at the end of the day?


It's my country. I'll vote like I own it. Besides, if things go well at least I will have a brilliant MP to flaunt in the face of non-Kawe residents. A girl's gotta get her kicks where she can :)

* Our Celebrident is a Tanzanian politician who belongs to CCM. I'm not saying he's dodgy (because I can't afford legal representation for libel and I do not feel like going to remand) but the corridors of power are narrow and smeared with ethical compromises. "Allegedly."


  1. Maybe Jaykay really is what you say of him (devoted and all). But, if you were given a choice to pick an able leader between him and Slaa would you really consider JK better than than Slaa?

    Assuming, JK is an indeed competent leader does he really have the supportive environment within his party to deliver. My belief has always been no matter who we put in power as long as he/she is from the CCM it will always be close to impossible to deliver. The party is so entangled in UFISADI. Unless serious changes take place within the party it is day dreaming that a CCM candidate whoever it is will be able to deliver.

  2. Thanks Deus:

    Assuming: that the field were a level playing field
    Assuming: that CCM had participated in the presidential debates
    Assuming: that the press was independent
    Assuming: that opposition parties are as clean as they say they are
    Assuming: that a Slaa presidency would not be hamstrung by four decades of single-party rule
    Assuming: That CCM is not smarter and more fluid than it presents
    Providing: That our inscrutable armed forces were not the silent threat that they are
    Providing: One wrong political move would not result in Bana Republic madness
    Providing: That all Tanzanian women and children and other subalterns were truly free to make an informed choice

    Then yes, Deus. I would experiment gladly with political parties. But this ain't Europe, it's Tanzania. TIA my brother. TIA.

    Why then yes,

    Then yes, expe

  3. Wow.

    All those assumptions.

    I know this comes a bit late. But "Assuming" you hadn't gone to the polls yet.

    Maybe we should we should just give this election the benefit of a doubt just this once (It doesn't kill to do so)

  4. Heh. To be honest Deus, this is an important discussion that needed to be raised. I voted, thanks for asking. As for the benefit of the doubt for this election: only I was in that polling booth. Beware assumptions based on the blog.

    Given that, I think that it is my responsibility to express my thoughts, hopes and fears about the future in a candid manner. I have little tolerance for headlong idealism: a Slaa presidency is going to be a massive challenge and no amount of emotional appeals are going to convince me not to tighten my belt and brace for the interesting times it will usher in. But I'm ready.

    Do I think as a nation we have what it takes to handle the heavy weather of a minority presidency? Perhaps, but I don't want to find out. I have lived through mild internal conflict, I cannot recommend it. Still, I'm ready. Our constitution does not have provisions for a minority presidency: if Bunge is majority CCM they can (and will) refuse to pass any of his government's bills thereby rendering him impotent. Also, the good doctor is undeniably intelligent- do you really believe he doesn't also harbor autocratic traits just because he's not CCM? Do you know him that well? Have you looked in his eyes and seen the proof of his bottomless love for this nation and her people? What drives him, really?

    If you have the answers, please convince me.

  5. It sucks to have a nincopoomp president (excuse my French). What's the talk about the love of his nation. This dude has no vision for this nation (viz. his interview with Journalists). Let's clip Kikwete's wings.

  6. Thanks for that Katoma. I hope you voted today to show Kikwete just how much of a nincompoop you think he is, French excused :)

  7. Elsie, you have raised very important observations there about the chances of there being a minority presidency. Mind you part of the Agenda the doctor runs on is constitutional reform we are yet to see how he is going to take advantage of that to overcome such challenging scenario.

    Well, i am trying to picture what happens with that scenario in place. Assuming CCM looses it will commence a quite long-lasting process of disintegration within the party. There will be witch-hunting as some in the party try to reposition themselves. Some will call for reforms to bring the party back to its founding principles. One Chama cha Ujamaa will therefore emerge(or more, God knows how many). Assuming, CHADEMA will have some very smart political operatives they will move to make alliances in parliament. No doubt, it wont take much of a hustle to get CUF's allegiance. however, there will definitely be a couple of other allies from the CCM. CHADEMA will do everything they can to get as many allies as possible on board. As a result this will create chaos within the CCM as the party whip attempts everything in his power to keep all his eggs in the same basket. Eventually it is November 2012 and we have a stalemate in parliament consuming us. By May 2013 there will be fresh elections in Tanzania as the stalemate in parliament has developed moribund. CHADEMA will gain even more seats especially from the deflected CCM MPs and only then some sort of calm will resume in parliament and maybe results can start becoming a bit more visible.

    Intelligence is always associated with arrogance so no doubt we are gonna observe some autocratic traits in the old man. But picture it this way; is it better to have a dumb dictator or to have an indeed "smart and benevolent" dictator. If we are to use his performance in parliament as the yard stick I can tell you for sure I do not believe he is any less patriotic than his counterpart (even though I am not sure how patriotic JK can get).

  8. Ah, Deus. Now we're talking. Umenikuna patamu, as Makwaia wa Kuhenga would say. I think your vision of a minority presidency is plausible, even though it is quite optimistic.

    Still, what's with this craving for an autocrat? I like the good doctor too, but we've had our benevolent dictator. We're all grown up now, there's no need for our President to act as surrogate father just because we want to cling to our political diapers.

    Two signs of maturity are patience and the ability to discriminate between a real opportunity and a mirage. So I ask you again: is Dr. Slaa the man of the moment or is he our mirage? Angalia wanazenji. They know how to handle theirselves.

  9. LOL. Makwaia better not say that in Mombasa.

    If I had worked in Karatu with the old man I would definitely be in the position to tell precisely how much of the autocratic trait is in him. I don't think his personal belief and practice of democracy is that bad really considering his work in parliament and even generally his upheaval in politics.

    Honestly, I don't think Dr. Slaa is a mirage. taking into account the circumstances around. I would take him for a man of the moment.

    But even if in the most unfortunate event he was a mirage. I think he would be it in a good way. I mean sometimes in life we are better off clinging our hopes to a mirage than not to hope at all for that would only lead to a heavy dosage of substance (God knows which) if not substantial investment on anxiety/depression therapy.

    Well wenzetu wanzenji have like always led the way. Especially after the Seif-Karume accord. but even long before that. And I believe in the next five years there will be a lot we are gonna have to learn from them reckoning the presence of the GNU (albeit with all the difficulties it will face).

  10. I wonder how one can truly measure/ascertain the love of a person for his/her country - in/through his/her eyes, words and/or actions?

  11. @Deus: excellent points, all. I'm just as curious and hopeful as you to see how we'll behave as a public servants and citizens in the coming year plus four.

    @Chambi: Depends who you ask. Machiavelli and Max Weber would probably give divergent answers to that question and they would both be quite right :)

  12. Well time will tell it all.

    @Chambi, i think that could be indeed a good research topic. One would come up with a patriotism index for national leaders.

  13. Elsie only postmodernist can claim that two mutual exclusive (as in divergent) answers can be both correct but it does not work that way in real politick as the election results are telling us today!


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