Monday, November 29, 2010

Now We're Talking.

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.


  1. lol... thank you for the article..
    "it was amusing to watch grown-ass Tanzanian men get into a shouting match at the Movenpick"- LOL (Malezi Bora)

  2. @Malezi bora: eh bwana, enitaimu. I don't have to make anything up, vijipolitics vinajipa mji huu ;)

  3. Re: this qn..."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..."

    I would really like to hear their names, if you don't mind.

  4. @SN: I would love to, but this is one for emails. Simply because it has been policy on TMR to make fun of politicians, not endorse them. Naturally, I have my favorites- one of whom is my own MP- but I have found that it i impossible to be credibly impartial when certain readers are always looking for a reason to decide what your politics are for you. Hazards of blogging :) Besides, it's a living list that's going to change shape over the course of the next five years... reformers? not really, more like moderates. But potential heirs to the throne? Quite a few suspects.

  5. I understand and respect your stand to put the cards close to your chest. I personally have a looooong list of politicians ambao nawafuatilia kwa karibu sana. Unfortunately, most of them are... eerrm, I mean, politicians = very unreliable.

    Imagine, Augustine Lyatonga Mrema was my hero back then! Seriously, I grew up seeing him attracting all the youths in my hood (Keko/Chang'ombe) in 1995. Needless to say, that was a harsh lesson I got from the dude who introduced 'sungusungu' to my vocabulary.

    Tell your MP that I would like to interview her...

  6. @SN: Dude. I would like to interview my MP if I can get hold. Trying to be polite so just FB-friending so far (she's full up/no response). I'll holler as I track her down while trying not to become a creepy stalker fangirl.

    Don't feel bad. I have footage of a magnificent three-generation family argument where certain folks who voted Mrema back in the day tried to revise history (chakachua) kidogo after the election results came in :) Ain't no shame in admitting you fell for a politician. The tricky thing is knowing when to let go.

    As for the lists, si we can share them in the inbox? Maybe we can combine, hammer out the candidates, do a little research/tracking and when the time is right initiate a more public, eh, discussion. Like, in September 2015.

  7. Ok! Deal. Agreed.

    Be warned; my list will be very controversial.

    1. Mchungaji Mtikila!


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