Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Please excuse me: it's been a long time and I am going to expend a lot of hot air in this post. If you want a quick read, the next post is going to be short and sweet.

It's that time of year again. Resolutions are a-knocking. I gave up on detailed resolutions a long time ago since obsessing about my failure to stick to a plan would derail any actual progress made in the resolution area. Besides which, resolutions are a bit like coasters- you only bring them out when there's company in order to appear more "together" than you really are. So these days I give inconclusive answers, sort of meander towards a vague goal or two and hope for the best.

That approach is also a good way to describe Tanzanian governance at present. Inconclusive answers (so, who actually stole the money?), sort of meandering (lack of focus and commitment) towards a vague goal or two (grand ideas "vanquishing poverty", no tangible targets) and hope for the best (because ultimately, accountability is just a four-letter word). Maybe we only bring out development policy to appear more "together" on the world stage than we really are. Heh.

I have been media-fasting since sometime after the elections, and trying to get a more intuitive and experience-driven 'feel' for what this second term of Jay Kay's is going to bring. Well. Remember the power shortage issues The Establishment said it would fix by its' next term? The kind of laissez-faire attitude that led to the Richmond/Dowans shenanigans? Five years down the line and we're back on power rationing through a very hot December. The Cabinet continues to grow at an impressive rate, if not the economy. And The Establishment is using up it's 2010 supply of teargas as it practices oppressive maneuvers against the citizenry. By the way, I hear practice makes perfect. Mwananchi: watch out for an FFU near you lest you want to learn how to leg it from the authorities every time you dare to express a democratic opinion.

I admit, I don't hold out much hope for the second term of Jay Kay's presidency. So far all the signs suggest it's going to be more of the same. I am beginning to suspect that there might not, after all, be any hidden depths to my President's character*. No lurking resolve, no secret masterplan, no overarching vision. And if that's the case, I guess he's just one of our transitional incumbents (we like to flip between active presidents and passive presidents, apparently). More worrying than Jay Kay's excessive need to be liked is the simmering threat of vindictiveness that's coming off the ruling party like a bad stink.

More than one apparatchik has been overheard saying things they really, really shouldn't. Like, constituencies such as mine which voted in an opposition candidate are going to feel the negative effects of that decision. Yeah, CCM: that's one way to endear yourself to a hostile votership. Or that Tanzanians are generally too stupid to know what's good for us because if we did we would vote CCM forever. If you hate fellow Tanzanians, what are you doing in politics? My favorite? That Tanzanians' failure to vote in CCM the way they wanted to be voted in is a sign of ingratitude. Ah, now there's the Party we're familiar with: ever gracious in defeat, the cream of Tanzanian society.

Anywho. The exciting part is that in this coming Term Two of Administration Number Four a number of meaty issues are going to show up in Bunge. The Freedom of Information Bill will likely be snuck in through the back door at some point because The Establishment would like for us not to know what's up (transparency sucks), and the Opposition and Civil Society and the media would like more access. A battle shall ensue.

Second: our Newspaper Act dates back to 1977. A fine year for democracy, that... not! Going to be keeping an eye out for the Media Bill that's sure to show up soon. Also troubling signs in this area: the government is going to try to restrict our constitutionally enshrined right to express ourselves publicly (accountability sucks), the Media Council of Tanzania, Tanzania Media Women's Alliance and various other CSOs are going to kick up a fuss, it's going to be interesting.

And last but not least: the Independent Candidate Issue. Chief Justice Ramadhani is no longer on the bench, there's a new sheriff in town. The last "ruling" on the government's appeal against the Supreme Court's previous ruling that... Whatever. Basically the Judiciary folded like a house of cards in a tropical thunderstorm on that issue and reminded us that the executive branch of government is still the only game in town. Next five years, hard to tell. Who knows if Independent Candidates are going to be allowed? Which leaves me wandering the wilderness, spending another year in search of a political party that is not embarrassing to belong to, supporting the tenacious Reverend Mtikila on his quest for legal activism.

The good news is that Zanzibar promises to be a very interesting case study on "shared" power in the region. I wish them the very best, and from the outside anyways it looks like the ingredients for success are there. We'll see, won't we?

*Fine, go ahead and say "I told you so." You know who you are.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. The issue with independent candidate is about to get very interesting. In a wake of the CRC that your boi JK is about to set it up. Mimi naona majority of wabongo would like to have an independent candidate and kama hiyo tume ya JK will be serious on its quest for a competent katiba (which I believe that JK is sincere on this), we should have an independent candidate in 2015.

    By the way, JK is already a lame duck with 4 years to go. Watendaji wote are picking up sides ili wasitemwe comes 2016. Bongo hii.


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