Been keeping off the political pipe these past few weeks for a couple of simple reasons: 1) with this stuff it's best to be "first out the gate" by live blogging or live tweeting an actual event for netizens and 2) analysis is overcrowded at this time as we commentators scramble to either gloatingly point out that we were right, or revise our horribly erroneous predictions. Might as well sit back and let the post-election thinking percolate until we're all sipping from the same pot of freshly-brewed spin.
Still, some pretty interesting developments: The cabinet is even more laughably huge than the previous one, which will only make it more ineffective, not less. A meeting with 50 people- tena Tanzanians who must be praised for the ability to have three opinions for every single issue- in attendance? Oh yeah, I want to see that "decision-making" in action. Also, this cabinet's hamstrung in that it comprises a mix of technocrats with demonstrated success and political deadweights to whom favors are evidently owed. Good luck with that, Mzee Pinda.
Meanwhile, on Saturday I watched live on ITV as Hamad and Mbowe chewed the beef* that's been brewing between our two largest and best-organized opposition parties. If nothing else, the debate left no doubt in viewers' minds as to the differences between different political parties. We've gotten used to treating opposition as one big undifferentiated block- hopefully that's going to change as we realize that ideology matters. As do grace in defeat, and a good grasp of the tools of governance, such as the legal system. Si, we wanted competitive multi-party democracy? Heh.
As an aside: this is why I don't do parties. I have a perfectly wonderful MP who is unfortunately for me hauling around the stinky baggage of belonging to a party that is slowly and publicly losing it's sense and it's dignity. I don't think that party politics make sense in this century, and I don't think they make sense in Tanzania. Give us free. Independent Candidates by 2015!
I have said before that it's generally not a good idea to get into a public political argument with Mr. Hamad and sure enough when he lost grip of his temper things got... both erudite, and lively. I do love a serving of drama to go with my politics, and it was amusing to watch grown-ass Tanzanian men get into a shouting match at the Movenpick. The moderator wore the expression of a skinny youth trying to wrestle a deadly python into submission. ITV had to take a loooong commercial break. I wish I had made some popcorn before the show began...
A recent string of interesting articles from Mwananchi suggest that Jay Kay's second term might be more of the same, just as he promised. Lack of focus, messy policies, unwieldy public sector compromised by political shenanigans, self-contradictions galore and politics of performance. Perhaps somewhere in that disaster zone we call government, there is a critical mass of public servants trying to do things right.
My Lady of the Cynical Smiles passed by today and we had a proper-good intergenerational political "discussion" that was thoroughly satisfying to all involved. She did leave me with one final knotty problem though: since the current system (and by implication, her generation of public servants) is rotten, who is going to inherit the structures of power and reform them to work for the good of all Tanzanians? I have a few people in mind. Feel free to throw down some names in the comments section.
*Hehe. These days Bongolanders are quick on the trigger finger with that YouTube! Preserving embarrassing moments for posterity... man, I love this town.