We don’t win gold, we give it away for a song; still, we’re champions of the talkathon By JENERALI ULIMWENGU | Wednesday, August 8 2012 at 10:53
In an Olympic season, when all other nations are showing off their prowess in pushing both their bodies and minds to the limits of excellence, we the non-Olympic nations can settle down to the usual talkathons that produce little or no glory.
Instead of running for honours in the vast array of disciplines on offer at London 2012, we are running our mouths big time in Parliament and other laidback institutions as we seek to win sterile debating medals.
This time round our lawmakers — never passing up an opportunity to bring scorn on themselves — are now doing a Gagool dance to identify the “witches” who have cast their spell of corruption on this country.
So the talk has been of which MP has been on the take, who has been carrying the moneybags to distribute to his/her colleagues, and who the rotten paymaster has been.
In short, some beef has been developing between the various bigwigs in the energy sector, wherein the ministry bosses seem to be at loggerheads with the energy utility leadership, presumably over who did what that has meant the country is still experiencing blackouts, and who has been milking their positions to enrich themselves and their families.
To say that it has been inelegant would be an understatement.
Members of the opposition in Parliament have long been known to point accusing fingers at their counterparts from the ruling party as the rotten apples that make the whole cart stink; but this time they are saying, in effect, that the stench of the rot from across the aisle has fouled up the whole system, and all are now ponging irrespective of party affiliation.
It was interesting to note that after these statements on generalised corruption within Parliament, both the ruling party and the opposition grasped the occasion to declare that they would “spare no effort” to expose those in their midst who had been tainted by these new allegations.
It was as if this were the first time allegations such as these had been raised, when everyone knows that these practices are the order of the day in all walks of public life.
Sometime in the past, a well-meaning soul established a rule that excluded Members of Parliament from membership of boards of parastatals, precisely in order to enhance the accountability of these government owned, badly run bodies.
That rule was quickly overturned and those boards have simply gone back to the bad old days of providing fat allowances for the lucky MPs who have lobbied hard enough.
In this way, parliament’s role as watchdog over these state companies has been eroded even without the novel suggestion that when in trouble, the top executives of these companies will deploy bread and butter to win over a number of legislators and avoid censure.
The allegations may still be found to be bogus, but that they could even be made is staggering, an indication of how Tanzania has really plumbed the depths in its descent into banana republicdom.
While all this is going on, the teachers’ union has called a nationwide strike, which has crippled the education machinery in many places across the land, despite the government and the courts having declared the strike illegal.
The president has said the teachers’ demands are unrealistic and unrealisable. I agree with him.
The problem, however, does not lie in reality but in perception. There is a perception out there, among the teachers and the doctors and other employees of the state, that the state is rich, judging from what the parliamentarians are quarrelling over, and from the luxury surrounding other members of the ruling clique.
Oh, by the way, while we may not win any gold in London, what about our own gold mines that we have given away for a song, whose proceeds could be used to pay our teachers and doctors just a little bit better? Eh?
Jenerali Ulimwengu, chairman of the board of the Raia Mwema newspaper, is a political commentator and civil society activist based in Dar es Salaam.
- Why Obama is visiting Tanzania
- Kenya's President receives TJRC report
- The girl who met Gaddafi 'in hell'
- Kisumu, where some folks are eating well, while others are going hungry
- Achebe’s body arrives home
- Kenyan call girls go high-tech
- US 'committed to partnership with Kenya'
- Namibia finds oil for first time
- Eritrea's Afeworki: reviled and revered ex-rebel
Beyond the ballot