Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Can opposition parties change into ruling bloc?


By Khalifa Said @RealKhalifax

Dar es Salaam. Unless fundamental changes in the country’s laws and constitution are carried out to ensure uncompromising relations between the government and the people areharmonized , experts in the field of public administration and political science have warned that even what today seems to be revolutionary can tomorrow turn into reactionary.

“The current system cannot support good governance no matter which political party rules” said Prof Bakar Mohammed of the University of Dar es Salaam. The country’s ‘revolutionary’ opposition has been relentlessly waging war against corruption, respect for human rights, inclusive governance and respect of democratic principles.

In overall, their efforts seems good things to citizens and some of them have finally agrred to the crackdown on corruption that has gained support from the government where President John Magufuli has singled out corruption as one of his priorities.

This has led to the belief that once opposition takes over and consequently has an opportunity to form a government it will be easy to implement all what they are currently advocating for including what they term as police brutality against their leaders and members.

However, political experts who on different occasions spoke to the Political Platform pointed out that the “dream” will only be guaranteed if deliberate efforts are taken to ensure that the underlying governing system of the country supports these principles instead of counting on party’s grace to offer them.

Prof Mohammed says that there should be no guarantee of positive changes of any kind in the change of a ruling party no matter how ideologically and philosophically different it is with the successor.

Considering the fact that both the formers and current rulers are the same Tanzanians who grew up within the same system, he explicitly discourages the tendencies of members of opposition thinking that the country will turn to be a heaven for them to practice their rights and freedoms.

Aware of the likely possible scenario of power to corrupt he who holds it, he notes the only thing that the public should count on is institutions and mechanisms in place that will draw the lines between them and the government so that the latter cannot infringe the rights and freedoms of the former.

Giving an example of what happened during the reintroduction of the multiparty democracy in the country, Prof Mohammed says: “A foundation that would support the system would have been laid first before even practicing it.”

The change in the constitution and other legal frameworks which would reflect multiparty democratic principles and good governance would be key changes to me made to make the multiparty democracy compatible with the existing laws, he suggests. Because that was, and has never been, the case, Prof Mohammed says it suffice to explain the source of current ongoing clashes within the ruling party and the opposition in the country.

“No efforts were taken to make the level playing field,” he says.

Mr Hamad Salim, a political science lecturer at the Open University of Tanzania said that all political parties have something very common.

This ranges from the ways they ran their activities as parties to how they address social issues. He says not only that a political party strives to take over the state but also to maintain it by any means possible.

Several mechanisms should be put in play but the commonest of all include the restriction of freedom of expression, the repression of political space and excessive control of the press.

“Unless a system to protect the rights and freedoms of the citizenry is in place nothing should be expected from any political party which will have an accessibility to form a government,” he identified.

What worries Mr Salim and makes him reaches to such conclusion is what is going on within the political parties themselves highlighting dictatorial tendencies of some parties’ leaders who are more powerful than their parties and constitutions.

Other concerns stems from the absence of well-defined ideologies and the absence of communities’ engagement where political parties engage with people in grassroots helping them solve their problems.

Mr Salim is skeptic that if party leaders don’t respect their own respective party’s constitutions how can they be counted on that they will respect the constitution of the united republic of Tanzania which guarantees citizens’ rights and freedom.

These are institutional issues which every single party which competes to form a government must deal and clear themselves with, he opines.

Without redefining their ideologies and philosophies, it will be unlikely for the opposition parties to convince people that they can practically stand for what they currently fight for once they are in the government.

But Prof Mohammed says that in multiparty politics, the opposition serves various other significant roles if backed up institutionally.

He points out for the government f day to be accountable to the people there is a need for government in waiting to be formed by a strong opposition party or an amalgamation of various opposition political parties.

Considering the legal and other bureaucratic frameworks in the country the formation of a strong government in waiting is obstructed by the fusion of the ruling party and the state. He says it’s hard to differentiate the state’s and the ruling party’s apparatuses like police force, the national electoral commission and the office of the Registrar of Political Parties which have been several times of favoring the ruling party CCM and oppressing the opposition.

“This is the strongest weakness on the way we practice our democracy,” he says. Prof Mohammed passionately points out that for the country’s democracy to function well a need to prepare an environment where there’s always the government in waiting is indispensable.

This, he thinks, can come by integrating within the legal and constitutional system laws and principles that would ultimately do away with the oppression of the opposition which is currently witnessed.

When asked if they would abandon some of the principles they are currently championing CUF Acting Deputy Director for Information, Publicity and Public Relation, Mbarala Maharagande dismissed the claims on “baseless” grounds.

He said that its not true that they will turn enemies of their sentiments pointing out that the local governments they head can provide a good model of the national government they will form once the people consent them.

“Determination and commitment are our shields,” said Maharagande adding that “you cannot be afraid to fire an unfaithful employee just by thinking that all employees are unfaithful.”

“The power belongs to the people,” he said.