Thursday, July 16, 2009

Grand graft contributing to Tanzania’s stunted economy

By Karl Lyimo

TANZANIA boasts – if this is the correct epithet and not a Nixonian expletive – a rare socio-econo-political status. One of the world’s countries which are extraordinarily endowed with natural resources, the United Republic is also among the world’s Top Ten poorest nation-States… No; I shall rewrite that for the sake of accuracy and honesty of purpose…

The country is rich; but its people, 44 million of them, are abjectly poor, despicably ‘unschooled,’ desperately disease-ridden – and despondently hapless, living on hope, empty political rhetoric and posturing day after day, year in, year out!

One does not need to be a modern-day Socrates (470?-399BC) to realize the (Socratic) irony underlying such ridiculous arrangements whereby a stinking-rich country (potentially so) harbours as their home a stinking-poor population (in reality).

In other words, the bulk of the people have been brought to their socio-economic knees – and may sooner than later hit the hard ground with a thud – NOT through deprivation by Mother Nature and the Sisters of Fate…NOR by a lack of suitable public policies and a hard-working, never-say-die folk…

No, Sir (and Madam – if I am to be politically-correct!). Most Tanzanians are today collectively leading a life of deprivation basically because of grand, institutionalized corruption that is routinely perpetrated by public officials in high positions of power and privilege, period!

There indeed have been attempts from different quarters – governmental and religious leaders, political and academic players, international donor/creditor community and anti-establishmentarians – to rationalize the situation. The attempts have been to little or no avail, thanks to two of the Four Estates of the Realm.

The two are an alert but hopelessly outnumbered Opposition and a sprinkling of neo-independent-minded CcM members in the Legislature, and a few fearless members of the independent mass media fraternity that is slowly being strangulated out of its independence and impartiality by a nervous Executive…

Look at it this way… On page-10 in the last issue of this weekly paper was an ‘Open Letter’ to President Jakaya Kikwete on how the latter can ‘turn Tanzania around.’

The writer – one ‘Emmanuel D Tayari [<> what a beautiful turn of phrase: ‘Tayari Tanzania Wealth’], notes that ‘the Government and the whole political system (in Tanzania) are much polarized, whereby everything is done to score political points or acquire personal gain and interests – not done for the benefit of the people who hired (sic) the institutions.’

For the president to perform his job well, Tayari counsels, ‘you need ‘to look outside the box by freeing yourself from (being an) institutional hostage… I understand how complex it is to accomplish your goals of helping needy Tanzanians to get out of poverty. This is because you operate in institutional failure…

The man gives counsel on how Kikwete should go about improving the lot of his hapless compatriots… ‘We can only win the war on poverty once we have inclusive economic policies which would clearly define the role of our youth, a solid Economic Machinery… making them viable productive partners…’

There is much more of such gems in the article, one that one would not like to have missed! [Business Times: July 10, 2009].

But, do we really need more, or new, policies today? What happened to all those zillion policies which begun with the founder of Tanzanian nationalism, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere? Land and people we do have in plenty… Our politicians in the corridors of power keep at it that we indeed do have good policies and leadership.

That is why (our leaders-in-perpetuity tell us ad nauseam) the same party – man and boy (CcM and TANU) – has been returned to power as regular as you like throughout the last half-century of our country’s ‘Independence’ life!

These four were the criteria which Mwalimu proclaimed in the 1960s as prerequisites to meaningful and sustainable socio-economic development. What happened since then?

I’ll tell you… There has been phenomenal progress in the Art and Science of holding on to power by hook or by crook for those who are already in there. Secondly, that growth has been phenomenally matched by escalating grand corruption. The two feed off each other.

Unless and until – as Tayari says – the president effectively and drastically disengages himself and his (very few) mass development-minded aides from being a hostage of an institutionalised corruption system, Tanzania will continue to wallow in abject poverty, ignorance, disease and sleaze.

What we also need in this day and age is Tanzania’s own editions of Socrates. These would revive the philosophical method of systematic doubt and questioning of our public leaders and law enforcement organs to reveal their hidden agendas on graft-fighting, and eventually elicit a clear expression of the truth – and nothing but the rational whole truth! [].

Business Times

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