President John Magufuli yesterday caught almost everyone by surprise with his spirited defence of embattled Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda. The President expressed his steadfast support for Mr Makonda, who has in recent days captured national attention for both positive and negative reasons.
Dr Magufuli’s remarks, made during the high-profile launch of the Ubungo interchange construction in the city where the guest of honour was World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, were largely unexpected. The Head of State’s defence of Mr Makonda is unsettling, to say the least,coming at a time when the RC is facing a serious charge of misconduct in the court of public opinion.
Mr Makonda has come under heavy criticism since Sunday when CCTV pictures emerged showing him leading a team of heavily armed police officers to storm a private radio and television station in the city.
The incident has been widely condemned by a cross-section of leaders and ordinary citizens, who view the raid as blatant abuse of power and authority on the part of the RC. That a top government official could brazenly force his way into private property for reasons that had nothing to do with his direct mandate was reason enough to call for his resignation.
Mr Makonda’s temerity compounded public anger over excessive show of force and unnecessary drama he has employed lately to confront those he views as his detractors. In this group is Bishop Josephat Gwajima, who has repeatedly claimed that the RC used someone else’s secondary school certificate to gain entry into college.
Mr Makonda has yet to discredit these claims, and it was therefore foolhardy for him to engage in new theatrics that only serve to intensify scrutiny of his character and suitability as a public office bearer.
The bottom line is that Mr Makonda’s continued role as RC is now seriously undermined and is an embarrassment and liability to the government. Despite the President’s defence, the honourable thing for Mr Makonda to do is resign.