Dr Benson Bana has been teaching Political Science at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM). He was recently appointed an ambassador by President John Magufuli. In this interview with Political Platform Reporter Louis Kolumbia he speaks about the appointment and what the nation should expect from him. He is yet to be assigned a duty station. He also touches on issues such as his connections with the ruling party, CCM and appointment of university dons on administrative and political posts. Excerpts.:
Question: How well are you prepared to serve the country in supporting of the industrialization drive?
Answer: I am aware of government’s policies. I know the country’s general philosophy and I have been making a close follow up on global issues that affect Tanzania. All these will help me in my new responsibilities. In addition I know what President Magufuli wants, therefore I will use my professional experience and my skills to serve the country differently and efficiently.
Some people say your appointment as ambassador shows that you were all along doing CCM’s bidding?
First of all, I would like to thank President John Magufuli for trusting me. I have received the appointment with a clean heart.
But, I can’t help those who link me with CCM. It is their opinion, of which I have no control off. I will support any effort intended to further public interest and the country at large. I will support anybody who will properly serve people’s interests and address grievances and challenges facing the people.
Our focus should be building for the future generation the Tanzania in which they will live more comfortably and that is what the current administration is doing; to take the country back to its basics.
Regarding the appointment, I’m still reflecting on why the Head of State appointed me out of millions of Tanzanians? However, I can assure you that I will try my level best to learn and consult to better serve my roles.
Critics say the appointment is a gift for many years of praising CCM as a political analyst, what are your comments?
I am a respected academician. I have been a neutral analyst. I offer constructive cricitism and praise where it is due. For instance, I have been strongly calling for review in the country’s education system.
Also, I have also been suggesting that investment should be directed to areas that will stimulate the country’s economy.
I have been critically sharing my comments with local and international media organizations including the BBC, DW, Radio UN and Radio Iran whenever they consult me.
What is your opinion on President John Magufuli’s appointment of academicians in political, administrative and diplomatic posts?
I support the idea. I supported the appointments of Dr Phillip Mpango as minister for Finance and Planning and Prof Joyce Ndalichako as Education, Science and Technology minister because I believed they better understand the ministries and their respective functions.
A lot of public funding is being invested in research in order that recommendations therefrom should inform government policies and decisions made.
The complaint has always been that many research reports just gather dust in university shelves and that most leaders do not follow the recommendations of the many reports.
Academicians appointed in administrative and political posts are therefore expected to use the wealth of experience they gained from years of research, as well as their skills to make right decisions, or influence decisions.
By doing so, they also put theories into practice.
And when they retire from politics and administrative service they can go back to the university and share their experiences that can enrich students and staff.
Unfortunately, some politicians who retire from active politics do not go back to universities to share their experience and how difficult it was to practically implement the theories.
Therefore, I support the idea of appointing academicians to administrative posts in the civil service and in political positions.
Tanzania’s foreign policy has undergone reforms; from diplomacy based on principles of human rights and the liberation of Africa to economic diplomacy that focuses on economic gains for the country? How are you prepared to work under this environment?
I’m certainly aware. As the Chief Justice, (Prof Ibrahim Juma) said, we are supposed to compete strategically in grabbing economic opportunities.
That’s if tourists in Israel are looking for a destination, we are supposed to persuade them to come to Tanzania provided they won’t disrupt our piece and violate the country’s ethics and national values.
What comments do you have for the forthcoming civic polls and General Election 2020?
I believe that the forthcoming elections will be conducted in accordance with principles and laws. Oposition political parties are supposed to take to the parliament or the court all issues they find inappropriate.
I’m sure that laws and regulations will be observed during these elections, but competition will depend on the level of preparation made by individual parties.
But how can the level of preparation be the same when the Opposition is not allowed to hold political rallies?
What I know is that, elected officials are allowed to hold political rallies in their constituencies. For instance Gairo Constituency MP is not allowed to hold rallies in Nkasi Constituency, but I’m not sure whether opposition members have been prevented from holding closed door meetings.
The restriction is important because during elections, political rallies are coordinated by the National Electoral Commission (NEC), but who will coordinate the post-election rallies demanded by opposition parties?
Just imagine, there are 22 political parties, who will coordinate rallies of individual political parties for every 24 hours in all the five years before the next election?
Can you tell our readers who Dr Benson Bana is?
Dr Benson Alfred Bana was born on March 3, 1959 in Maruku Village in Bukoba District and went to Byandilima and Mugeza Primary Schools from 1965 to 1972.
I went to Ihungo Secondary School between 1972 and 1975, and then he joined Tabora Teachers College between 1977 and 1978 for Grade “A” Teaching Certificate.
Between 1986 and 1988, I joined the Institute of Adult Education for Diploma in Education before joining the University of Dar es salaam (UDSM) for a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from 1989 to 1993.
I pursed my Masters of Arts in Political Science and Public Administration at the UDSM between 1993 and 1995, before joining the University of Manchester for Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Human Resources Management.
In my professional life I worked as a primary school teacher in Bukoba from 1979 to 1984, a Tutor and Coordinator of studies, at Nzega Folk Development College between 1988 and 1989 and Tutorial Assistant at the Open University of Tanzania (OUT) in 1993.
I then worked as part time lecturer at the Institute of Adult Education in Dar es Salaam between 1994 and 1995 and as the Human Resources training and development manager at the Tanzania Cigarette Company Limited (TCC) from 1996 to 1999.
Between 1999 and 2000 I worked as assistant lecturer at OUT, before joining the UDSM where I served under the same capacity until 2008 when I was promoted to the lecturer position and later from 2008 todate I serve the UDSM as senior lecturer.
I also served REDET, TEMCO, National Defence College of Tanzania, (NDC), Adventures for Health, Education and Agricultural Development in Tanzania (AHEAD-Tanzania), Legal Service Facility (LSF) and the Institute of Finance Management (IFM) under different capacities.