Thursday, August 12, 2010


I remember taking an elective in political science and we had to deal with government—its definition, organs, functions, and duties, etc. I remember reading about Abraham Lincoln and falling in love with his Gettysburg’s address. I love especially the part that says “...It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” I am sure some of you may be wondering what Abe Lincoln’s speech has to do with Tanzania and the subject matter. Well, I have been reflecting on Tanzania and her government to wit: the social contract between the government and the governed; the duties and obligations each owe to the other in order to maintain this relationship and not to violate the contract. Tanzania’s government reminds me of Woodrow Wilson’s declaration in his book, “The State,” that “there are governments and governments.’ On the functions of government, Woodrow Wilson stated:

“It will contribute to clearness of thought to observe the functions of government in two groups, I. The Constituent Functions, II. The Ministrant. Under the Constituent I would place that usual category of governmental function, the protection of life, liberty, and property, together with all other functions that are necessary to the civic organization of society, - functions which are not optional with governments, even in the eyes of strictest laissez faire, - which are indeed the very bonds of society.

Under the Ministrant I would range those other functions (such as education, posts and telegraphs, and the care, say, of forests) which are undertaken, not by way of governing, but by way of advancing the general interests of society, - functions which are optional, being necessary only according to standards of convenience or expediency, and not according to standards of existence; functions which assist without constituting social organization.

Obviously, Woodrow Wilson statements underscore why we the people of Tanzania, you and I, gave up our sovereign rights to a government in order to receive or maintain social order through the rule of law. We the people conceded our rights to self rule/determination to the government in Dodoma, so that we don’t have to live in a state of nature, where life is nasty, brutish and short ---and it is survival of the fittest per Hobbes. We the people of Tanzania conceded our rights to the “elected” few in Dodoma so that we don’t have to worry about our safety, our liberty, our properties or our welfare. Even the Tanzanian constitution recognizes this contract we entered into with the government of Tanzania. The Tanzanian Constitution stated boldly: “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.

According to Abraham Maslow, each of us is motivated by needs. Man has basic needs which have to be satisfied sequentially. These needs ranging from biological and physiological needs—air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc), to safety needs (protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, etc.), to belongings and love needs (work group, family, affection, relationships, etc) to esteem needs (self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc) and self-actualization needs (realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences). Only when the lower order needs of physical and emotional well-being are satisfied are we concerned with the higher order needs of influence and personal development. Every Tanzanian has a basic need for air, food, drink, shelter and safety amongst others. Only when these needs are met can we be in a better frame of mind to reach our capacity. I must not fail to state that an in-depth study of Marslow’s theory is beyond the scope of this article.

As I stated earlier, we Tanzanians gave up our freedom ---- our rights to live as we please in a state of nature, where there will is no law but boundless and unfettered freedom, in order to have a government—a representative democracy. However, the nagging question is, are we really getting the bangs for our bucks? Is our government---our elected representatives keeping their own side of the bargain? Are we getting the protection of life and property that are entrenched in the constitution as well innately entrenched in the social contract we entered into with the government? As a sovereign nation that is 12 months shy of fifty years, do we really have a viable representative government---government of the people, by the people, for the people? Do we have a responsible and responsive government---a government that meets the needs of its people; or at least tries to meet the needs of its citizens, as well as protects her citizens from external and internal aggression?!

According to the 2010, “List of Failed States Index,” Tanzania was number 72 on the list. The political indicators of a failed state, according to Fund For Peace, include “criminalization and/or de-legitimization of the state: where there is endemic corruption or profiteering by ruling elites and resistance to transparency, accountability and political representation. It also includes any widespread loss of popular confidence in state institutions and processes.” Other indices of a failed state is progressive deterioration of public services: a disappearance of basic state functions that serve the people, including failure to protect citizens from terrorism and violence and to provide essential services, such as health, education, sanitation, public transportation etc. Are we connecting the dots here? Moving on, according to Max Weber, a failed state is one which “does not maintain a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within its borders.

Thus, when a state cannot control its internal and external security, and it is over run by criminals, kidnappers, terrorists, paramilitary religious groups, warlords, its very existence as a sovereign nation or a state is questionable and thus it becomes a failed state. While I am not willing to concede that Tanzania is a failed state, (since I love my country and I willing to bet that given the right leadership, Tanzania can be redeemed from the abyss); without a shadow of doubt, Tanzania is on the edge of becoming a failed state. It is highly embarrassing to read how criminals have taken over Streets. More embarrassing is the fact that some of these Criminals are alleged to work in concert with government officers, the police and politicians. And to add insult to the injury, even our traditional rulers---the traditional institution that is supposed to hold the fabric of our society together have been implicated in this deliberate act of sabotage. Well, I am not too sure if these are really traditional rulers as we know them, especially since these days, with the advent of “autonomous” communities, anything goes. People of questionable characters have been known to have paid to get their own “chiefdoms.

It is unfortunate that for the common man in Tanzania, it is a double whammy. It appears that the Tanzanian masses, especially the working class and the middle class (do we still have middle class in Tanzania? It is either extreme wealth or extreme poverty, I guess) are being attacked on all fours. They are oppressed and suppressed by those who are supposed to protect them: the government and traditional rulers, while criminals give them no rest. The people live on edge. The edge of fear! Some have loss hope. Some have broken dreams. Most are frustrated. They have been on this side of the mountain for too long. It is one step forward and two steps backward—and round and round the mountain of hopelessness and failed dreams and broken promises. They watched helplessly and in bewilderment as the Senate debates to give its members jumbo pay raises, without caring that the rest of the country lives in squalor and deprivation.

And as the time to celebrate Tanzania’s 49th independence anniversary approaches, our government in its wisdom decided to throw a huge party. The mother of all parties. Okay, so we on this side of the aisle are not exactly pleased with this outrageous and wanton waste of public funds---who cares? It is party time and our nouveau government just has to celebrate its good fortune of inheriting the crown without going through the hoopla of elections with a big bang. And what better way to than to spend ten billion naira? Are we the people invited to this jamboree, or are we going to be on the sideline smiling, and cheering and suffering while ten billion naira changes hands--and zilch for us? Ten billion for independence anniversary celebration?! It is their party--the political class, the leadership, that is! They are celebrating their independence from poverty and lack. Would to God half of this money is used for the people—the children. Wouldn’t half that money improve the quality of education in Tanzania?

Thinking of it, would you say that the Tanzanian political class, our leaders have become an albatross on the neck of the nation? With them looting and sharing and fighting publicly over who gets what, and with them budgeting billions and trillions for their high end schmooze and parties---and yet we, the people have no electricity, no water, no roads, no quality education, no primary health care, no social security, no pension, no justice and no security,…it is really a sin to waste all that money on merriments. Obviously it is we versus them. We “elected” them to dispossess us. There is a huge chasm. A great gulf ---a big divide between we, the people and the government. And if salt has lost its saltiness of what use is the salt? Would you say, Tanzanian government is of the people, for the people by the people?

And in this social contract between we, the people of Tanzania and the government of Tanzania, wouldn’t you say the government has not demonstrated good faith and fidelity to the terms of the contract? And yet, we have refused to demand for our rights; for accountability, for what is equitable---and for the rule of law. For example, in the fight against organized crime, we expected that no criminal should be accorded special treatment or favors. A criminal is a criminal no matter how highly placed.

Ok, some may say that they are still investigating and it is developing story, but parading these people before news media will even help and facilitate the investigation. I daresay, people will come forward to give more useful leads to the police/detectives if they recognize the pictures. Well, to our dismay, the police have shielded these hoodlums from public embarrassment. Any other country would have paraded these criminals and their cohorts before the news media and their faces and images would have been breaking new; but alas, in Tanzania, their names and identities are shrouded in mystery. Like everything in Tanzania, very soon, we may start hearing another revised and edited version of this saga, in terms of the people behind it. Money may change hands and files may disappear and the criminals will become victims and victims will become the criminals. Nobody will know the identity of the kingpin---and it will be business as usual. These hoodlums may change base and will continue harassing and tormenting innocent Tanzanians while parading themselves as respectable folks in the society.

Moving on, other indicators of a failed state is “where a state is not able to enforce its laws uniformly because of high crime rates, extreme political corruption, an extensive informal market (black market), impenetrable bureaucracy, judicial ineffectiveness, military interference in politics, cultural situations in which traditional leaders wield more power than the state over a certain area but do not compete with the state, or a number of other factors.” When you look at the picture above I bet you are looking at the picture of Tanzania. Tanzania has become a laughing stock in the international community and a pariah state. I bet the reason why most countries have not openly and officially shut their doors on Tanzania/ Tanzanians is because of the oil. However, most countries have subtly shut their doors on Tanzania/Tanzanians by making it extremely difficult for Tanzanians to step into their shores. Nobody wants to touch us--Tanzanians. You get the feeling that most civilized countries are merely tolerating Tanzanians, and given the negative image we have all over the world would you blame anybody?

Finally, the social contract we signed with the government, we expected to have reciprocal benefits. I mean the governed and the government are supposed to have duties, obligations and responsibilities towards each other as well as mutual benefits. Like in every contract, where one party is performing and the other fails or refuses to perform, then the contract is violated. If the contract is violated, the aggrieved party has options: either to cancel or repudiate the contract, or to seek redress in the court of law, or to go back and renegotiate the terms of the contract. In this case, I guess we may reach a point whereby we may have to renegotiate whether we really need an albatross on the neck of Tanzania. People may reach a breaking point that they may revolt against tyranny and oppression, against some classes eating the fats of the land while the rest are barely making ends meet.

History is replete with revolutions; people rising up to say, enough is enough!. Do we really need a revolution before the government wakes up to its duties? How long will it continue to be we versus them? And President Jakaya Kiwete ? Boy!! Did we ever have our hopes raised so high? I still have high hopes that perhaps, he is still a change agent. I still have hopes that perhaps, he may be the catalyst we needed for change in the country. However, it looks as if the line is getting blurry between the dream, the hope and reality. Is he getting mired and swallowed in the system or is the system swallowing him? Do we need a Phd in economics to know that squandering over ten billion naira for an independence celebration party does not make economic sense? What a Chutzpa! Would any government really justify such wanton and outrageous waste?

Before I draw the curtains, can somebody help me tell IGP Mwema that we do appreciate the fact that he has risen to the challenges posed by his men and the security lapses in the country. The fact that he owns up to the limitations of his agency ---and appears to be taking corrective measures is commendable. However, we don’t to stop at reactionary measures; we need permanent solution to the problem---a systemic overhaul of the police force and a zero tolerance for corruption and crime in Tanzania. We need to pull Tanzania back from the edge of destruction. Criminals and their godfathers have to be flushed out and brought to book. And with 2010 Elections round the corner, we really need to take this monkey off Tanzania’s back.

And oh while we are at it, can he (IGP Mwema) please release the names and pictures of all the culprits behind this recent Corruption(s)? These criminals should not be accorded special favors. They are low lives regardless of how they posture in society, thus they should not be shielded from public embarrassment. They have held our society hostage enough, they have caused enough havoc. We are expecting the police force, under Mwema and the government under President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete to be proactive, to deliver--to be dedicated to the task of rebuilding the nation and its image. As Abe Lincoln says “...It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”. We no longer want we vs them. This is the least we ask of our leaders.

Stephen J Nyagonde
National Representative
Young Earth Scientist Network- Tanzania,
Internship WWF Tanzania Office,
Rubeho Environmental Action Project-REAP,
Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG),
Rubeho, Mpwapwa, Dodoma,
Mobile: +255713058745, +255765111101

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