Excessive pride is counterproductive

Tuesday May 15 2018

Kasera Nick Oyoo is a research and

Kasera Nick Oyoo is a research and communications consultant with Midas Touché East Africa 

The reported damage to several Dar Rapid Transit (Dart) commuter buses in Dar es Salaam city is reminiscent of the surgical operation that was conducted on the head of a patient instead of his knee where the problem was!

We are also told that three government agencies are at loggerheads regarding whether or not the imported edible oil held up at Dar es Salaam port is crude or refined.

Then out of the blue comes yet another enigma: that the newlyappointed Vodacom Tanzania managing director, the Kenyan Ms Sylvia Mulinge, may not, after all, take up the job, ostensibly because she has been denied a work permit by Tanzanian authorities who believe that Tanzanians are qualified for the job.

These seemingly unrelated events may have remained ‘unrelated’ until a series of tweets started popping up… And Parliament erupted in a manner that seemed to raise eyebrows that, after all, these ‘isolated’ events are actually parts of a whole.

House Speaker Job Ndugai let the cat out of the bag.

“If we have no laboratory that can test oil to prove it is crude or not, then take the oil to South Africa, Nairobi or London for testing – and we shall get the answer in one day,” Ndugai taunted.

A Tanzanian commenting from Canada said the damage to the Dart buses was a clear manifestation that we have not yet got what it takes to efficiently run “anything – let alone a bus rapid transit (BRT) system.”

Yet another commentator, one A. D. Makuka, twitted: “udhaifu wetu mkubwa we are too emotional tunapoambiwa ukweli. Tunataka tubembelezwe wakati ni kweli tunavurunda kwenye utendaji wetu. Tusipoelewa udhaifu huu, tutaishia hivihivi tu kwa kuleweshwa sifa za kijinga-jinga. Tunasubiri utawala utakaokuja kutupa pesa mkononi.”

Without translating that word for word, Makuka said ‘our (Tanzanians) big problem is that we believe our own hype, that we are great achievers when the truth is to the contrary – and, unless we change, we will continue along this destructive path…’

So, we should be asking ourselves how all this relates with the jingoistic denial of a Kenyan the opportunity to lead Vodacom Tanzania?

Anyway; feel free to disagree with my theorizing.

Several questions come to mind when one thinks about this matter. One: were the new Vodacom Tanzania appointee a black South African or a Caribbean – or even an Australian from Down Under – would they be denied a work permit in Tanzania?

Remember that Vodacom Tanzania was recently listed on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE). How its shares perform in the market will matter not just locally, but also internationally.

Of course, this does not mean that there is no Tanzanian who can do the job well.

But, when investors do what they think is in the best interests of their business, it is deplorable that government agencies come in and say “we won’t take this person; give us another one.”

The challenge is that nearly all the institutions that the politically-correct ‘nationalists’ run are not in the top five on the list of most successful Tanzanian businesses.

We are overly consumed with chest-thumping regarding our perceived capabilities no matter how much the reality of indecisions, poor decision-making, downright ineptitude and many other ills that afflict our institutions to the core.

The decision to appoint a CEO is a business decision and not a political one. While government retains the right to vet and authorize work permits, its decision – if based purely on national pride – may not necessarily be in the best interest of the nation.

The examples above are enough to dismiss the gloat-filled self-serving theory that “we can do it because, clearly, we can’t, not if you go by all the mess we see around us in the BRT and other cases.”

The reality may be ugly. But beyond uTanzania, the Tanzanian who may one day be appointed to run Vodacom Tanzania may have to shed his/her uTanzania to get the job done. This is where uTanzania would be associated with ineptitude and lack of planning, creativity and self-motivation.