Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Magufuli’s refusal to globetrot vs Uncle Toms

Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian writer based in

Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian writer based in Canada 

By Nkwazi Mhango

There’s been fanaticism of faulting President John Magufuli almost in whatever he does. Detractors started with the purchase of planes and the resuscitation of Air Tanzania. These oddballs went ahead claiming that some of the planes wouldn’t be delivered. Thereafter, there followed attacks on Chato Airport. As if it wasn’t enough, they went on scorning free education, while some of them are the products of the same free education under Ujamaa. To cap it all, they are now at it again, faulting Magufuli for refusing to globetrot.

Tongues are wagging. Is being in the opposition an opportunity to peddle lies for political mileage, to just oppose everything illogically and unreasonable really?

I don’t know what such politicians will call Magufuli. One thing many don’t know is that the president who knows what he’s elected for, will never waste money and time globetrotting.

I recently heard Mbeya Mjini MP Joseph Mbilinyi querying President Magufuli’s refusal to globetrot. He wondered why Magufuli’s not making foreign tours.

To show that Mbilinyi’s just talking without having any scientific evidence, he didn’t even adduce a gist of evidence about the ramifications of Magufuli’s refusal to globetrot. What do we get as a country from shoptalk such as Commonwealth and Davos annual symposia?

If you ask the likes of Mbilinyi the benefits of globetrotting, they’ve nothing to show. Those who remember how former president Jakaya Kikwete used to globetrot know how his trips didn’t bring anything compared to other presidents who didn’t.

According to Mhango (2015), in Africa Reunite or Perish, Kikwete had already made more than 300 trips abroad as of March 2012 just six years in power. This means, Kikwete was making at least eight trips monthly. If you multiply 300 with $1 million per trip for six years, you get the whooping sum of $300 million spent by the President of a country that depends on begging and handouts from Western donors!

If you compare Tanzania’s economy under Kikwete and Kenya’s under Mwai Kibaki who did not globetrot, you find that Kenya’s economy was doing fine. My understanding is that, aid and investments are supposed to top up to homemade plans to develop the country economically.

This is why Magufuli’s industrialisation and renegotiating investment contracts are the more important. For me, globetrotting or believing that the development and prosperity of the country depends on foreign forces is typical colonial and archaic not to mention being needless laziness and unreasonableness.

It is sad that there are no statistics of how much money colonial governors spent when they were in Africa. Again, I am sure that they spent less than the amount our current spenders in power burn.

In April 2015, there was a dispute about the US president’s expenses on one trip to Africa. It was estimated that one trip the US president makes to Africa costs the taxpayer at least $60-100 million (Politucus USA, 2015).

Mbilinyi said that it is hogwash to say that Magufuli doesn’t make foreign tours because of avoiding unnecessary expenditures. He wondered why Magufuli sends his VP or PM if this is the case. I wonder how a person can fail to do simple calculus that the president spends much more money than his VP and PM. Presidential accommodation, security and other services cannot be compared to those of his juniors.

Again, why are some of our representatives wasting their voters making up things? There are a couple of reasons among which can be:

First, having colonised education resulting from colonial carryovers and toxic education that have become another anathema for Africa not to mention colonial mentality. Such people think that nothing good can come at home.

Secondly, dependency that forces such Uncle Toms to depend on donors to do everything for them as if they don’t have hands and heads full of brains.

Thirdly, a strategy to court and please colonial masters so that they can throw some coins to such political beggars who would like the President to waste a lot of money and time making begging trips abroad. Benjamin Mkapa and Kikwete were renowned for globetrotting. What did they leave behind apart from the boils that are giving Magufuli sleepless nights?