Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tanzanians want positive action, not a load of hot air

Professor Zulfiqarali Premji

Professor Zulfiqarali Premji 

I was surprised to hear a former prime minister, now in the Opposition, claiming that they will win the 2020 elections and take over the reins of power. Is this reality or just political utopia? Maybe they will win elections in another country known as “Kusadikika”.

You can no longer win elections in Tanzania through empty talk or dishing out money. That era is over. People now judge you by your actions and track record. Some individuals in the Opposition were given their time, but have nothing tangible to show except the wealth they accumulated using their official positions.

The 2020 elections will be based on what candidates will have done, and not what they say. What Tanzanians need is development and a better quality of life. We also need multiparty politics because Uncle Sam thinks that there is no democracy without opposition and because, in one way or another, we depend on Uncle Sam. We have to be compliant or risk being grouped with North Korea.

The most serious problem in Africa right now is leadership. It affects the lives of the majority of Africans from the cradle to the grave. For the majority, the last elections were based on good governance, honest politics, accountable leadership and addressing inefficiency, including red tape and corruption in public office, and this was what Dr John Magufuli championed.

People could see and visualise a real opportunity and the prospect of dealing with deep-rooted impunity and political chicanery in Tanzania. The public looks up to their leaders to rescue them from the anarchy and the rottenness of its society. But most of the messiahs have ended up delivering hell. All they do is engage in schemes to self-perpetuate and self-preserve and let bad governance, ineptitude and the canker of corruption continue to fester.

Wishful thinking is the adoption of beliefs and making decisions according to what might be pleasing to imagine instead of through appeal by evidence, rationality or reality. It is a product of resolving conflicts between belief and desire.

How will Tanzania be in the year 2050, in terms of performance, governance, administration and poverty levels? I envisage that all traces of injustice, discrimination and disparity in political, economic and social spheres will vanish, leaving the country free of violent conflicts.

Energy will be a priority with 100 per cent coverage for industrial, domestic and agricultural needs by the mid-21st century. Transportation infrastructure will be transformed, enabling the country to shrink into one connected nation rather than regions that are barely connected.

In this vision, education will be free and compulsory for children for 12 years and no university student will be denied opportunity for lack of means. Free quality healthcare for all will be available and 50 per cent of all commodities produced in the country will be processed here as well.

Intra-regional trade will be at 75 per cent and Tanzania will spend 10 per cent of its GDP on science, technology and innovation by 2040 and our institutes for democracy, good governance and sustainable development will be so popular that they will be an example for the rest of the world.

The country will be a haven for investment, employment generation and wealth creation by 2040. There will be quotas for Europeans, Asians and Americans seeking employment here. All arable land in Tanzania will be cultivated, save for what will be reserved for environmental protection. By 2050, food shortages or famine will be history in Tanzania, which will also be ready and able to lend a helping hand in global emergencies.

The worst-case scenario for Tanzania in 2050 is more of the same Tanzania of 2015. However, a more realistic prospect lies somewhere between that and my utopia.

It will be quality of leadership that will manage the internal and external pressures that will impose themselves on us. Even if the best does not happen, we can prevent the worst.

Hopefully, my utopia has given some clues about what should be the future election manifesto. So until 2025, the Opposition has adequate time to prepare or mess up again by settling for a reject from the ruling party.