Magufuli and ‘impossible’ mission

Monday September 17 2018


By Erick Mwakibete

Some things have become all too familiar every time President John Magufuli tours any part of the country.

His dissatisfaction with the work of some of his appointees, some cash being given to this person or that person for all sorts of reasons, his continued call to not waste time with being too tied up in petty political squabbles based in political parties, sacking of officials, impromptu stops, and the list goes on.

All these things are important in understanding how the country works. That it takes much more than just personal will of the person in charge to get a country going.

Take his dissatisfaction with some of the officials he has appointed in some places.

While in Mara, he said he was deeply unhappy with a terrible working relationship between a district commissioner and a regional commissioner. This in a region where loss of some parliamentary constituencies by CCM to the opposition has been attributed to such infighting of government and party officials.

At one impromptu stop, President Magufuli blamed CCM’s loss of a constituency to his party’s choice of a parliamentary candidate. This too is all too familiar from the past to the present.

While true that such infighting has cost CCM dear in some elections in the past, in some cases, that has little to do with infighting but the fact that presented with different options, voters genuinely opt for a different candidate based on many factors.

This too is insightful in how CCM’s leadership, past and present have viewed multipartism, that CCM’s political losses have nothing or very little to do with the desire of voters for something different but problems internal to the party itself.

In Mara, President Magufuli toured or passed through all constituencies held by the opposition Chadema. These are different constituencies and the opposition’s gains were driven by different factors in all the constituencies.

While his tour of these opposition held constituencies is very much in line with his philosophy of not being tied up with party politics when it comes to development, it is well possible that the president is trying to reach out to voters who opted for his party’s political rivals in the previous general election.

It could work come 2020 in some of these constituencies.

As such it is no wonder President Magufuli praised Anthony Mtaka, Simiyu’s regional commissioner.

This too is no coincidence. In the same region at a recent function, CCM’s secretary general praised Simiyu’s working relationship between government and party officials as the best in the country and that other regions with chronic infighting between government and CCM officials like Dar es Salaam, Mbeya and Arusha should learn from CCM.

President Magufuli’s commitment to fighting corruption is in no doubt but as witnessed during his tour of those regions in Lake Zone, there are still many development projects which have stalled or being implemented at a snail’s even though funds for these projects are available and in many cases were released on time.

He has smelled corruption and incompetence in some of these projects threatening to sack a minister at one point.

Our system of government places too much control in a single person.

Too much power is vested in the presidency that much of everything within the government does not move without the say so of the president or the ministers he has appointed.

As such we become a country of ultimatums, a system perfected by then interior minister, one Augustine LyatongaMrema.

Even in things which have clear guidelines on how they should be done, officials do not make the initiatives on their own and wait until the president or minister issues orders and ultimatums or someone is given the sack for the monster that is bureaucracy to move.

As such, ordinary citizens, who the president has become their champion defender, once they hear of him passing in their villages or towns there are many impromptu stops; everyone wants to be heard because they have too little to no faith in the many government officials in their areas to do their jobs properly.

In some cases even directives issued have been ignored or not acted upon as the current interior minister witnessed in one of his tours.

This goes on and on, from one presidency to the next.

Decentralising some of this power could help reduce or unclog the jam that rarely moves.