The recent Regional Commissioners, District Commissioners, Regional Administrative Secretaries and District Administrative Secretaries retreat that was held in Dodoma, reminds me of an interesting political philosophy that was coined by Niccolo Machiavelli.
Machiavelli was born on May 3, 1469, in Florence, Italy.
He was a political philosopher and diplomat during the Renaissance. Some of his philosophical premises are based on new domain.
In our context it is about the new RCs, DCs, RAS and DAS that were appointed to replace the outgoing ones. There are those who have been shifted from one domain to another which also is a challenge. The retreat was very much called for, said some political analyst since these new leaders will be joining some of the inhabitants of the new domain.
The Prince is a guidebook explaining what a sovereign must do to maintain and strengthen control over a domain. Machiavelli calls such a sovereign a prince. But that term may include any other non-elected ruler. Thus, the sovereign may be not only a prince, who rules over a principality, but also a king (kingdom), emperor (empire), duke (dukedom or duchy), and so on.
Machiavelli says his guidebook applies only to sovereigns, not to rulers elected or appointed by citizens or their representatives, as in a democracy or a republic. But modern political scientists observe that elected rulers such as presidents, ministers, permanent secretaries, regional commissioners, district commissioners, Members of Parliament, mayors and councillors often exhibit the political behavior of a prince, as defined by Machiavelli, or use "Machiavellian" tactics to maintain or augment their political power.
These inhabitants may be suspicious of, or hostile toward, the new ruler. Thus, the ruler of an acquired domain may need to establish a residence in the domain in order to observe and communicate with the native population. There are those who believe that Machiavelli's political philosophy is still important and hijacked by the politicians today not for the good of the people but for the interests of the politicians.
Many politicians agree with this philosophy that an inherited domain is easier to manage than an acquired domain. But to the RCs and DCs there is that argument that sometimes though it is rare for many to happen, there are those who inherit such domain and continue ruling. Unfortunately, no one is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient to understand each character that is appointed to such posts. So it is likely that there are those who can slip in the net, yet there are the worst choices for the people.
Therefore, what to do? Machiavelli further argues that Laws, customs, traditions, and an established language are already in place, as are friends and supporters of the new ruler's family. On the other hand, a domain acquired through force of arms or other means, he said is generally more difficult to manage, since it may have different customs, traditions, and legal codes, as well as a different language.
When such leaders are taken for orientation as it was the case recently in Dodoma retreat, it is expected that some of these leaders will come out of the training with excellent ideas, strategies and techniques to meet some of the challenges of their jobs and bring transformation in their domain for the better. For example it is not easy for the ordinary citizen to know the details of the recent training, and since the Dodoma training was designated for a specific group, we can still throw some light on Machiavelli recommendations that were featured in the RCs, DCs, RASs and DASs training designed for rulers of all types of domains.
He advises such politicians to imitate the style and techniques of rulers of the past who successfully ruled their territories. Such rulers should limit the freedom of the citizens and, thus, minimize the risk of uprisings. Maintaining a strong coercive instrument to keep the peace and to provide a buffer against foreigners who might invade or stir up mischief among the native population was also one of the items.
Sometimes, some of the RCs and DCs will resort to deploy The Prince techniques of use of violence, trickery, and insincerity when necessary to overcome adversaries and win benefits for the domain. We are aware as citizens that political and military enemies regularly use these tactics, and the wise ruler must be ready to fight fire with fire. However, a ruler should avoid unnecessary use of these tactics.
As citizens of this country we ought to know that these leaders will Show a modicum of generosity toward the people but will not pamper them. According to The Prince, showing too much liberality can spoil the citizens; showing too little or none at all can turn them against the ruler. Machiavelli points out that when it is necessary to reprimand an important citizen, the ruler should consider having a stand-in do it for him. If the citizen reacts unfavorably to the reprimand, claiming it is unjust, he is more likely to blame the stand-in for the injustice than the ruler.
It is expected that those qualified RCs, DCs, RASs and DASs will no doubt strike a balance between mild and severe punishment of lawbreakers. Such leaders have to strike a balance between showing too much mercy on the subjects, which can make a ruler appear weak, and citizens may try to take advantage of him. On the other hand, showing no mercy can make him appear cruel and insufferable, and the people will hate him.
The philosophy also says that in general, it is better for a ruler to foster policies that make people fear him rather than love him, but he should avoid doing anything that would cause the people to hate him. Another strategy taught during such trainings not only in Tanzania but around the world is on how to appoint court officials known to be trustworthy and devoted to the ruler's interests.
But most often they are cautioned not to appoint officials who are afraid to tell the truth, believing they will offend the ruler. A ruler must demand and get the truth from everyone serving under him as outlined in The Prince treatise. Some of the elements that are discussed above were part of the training, which now will depend on the competence of those in the position of authority to manipulate them and use them judiciously in their respective areas.
But there was this clear guidance and caution by President Kikwete to these appointed leaders. Since they have been equipped with a number of tactics, strategies and skills to manipulate the masses, the safety nets are very important. For instance, the president dwelt at length on the need for the administrators to show - and clearly be seen to show - deep and genuine respect for the rule of law and judicial decisions made by duly constituted courts of law.
At least underneath this discussion the issue of morality and ethics is also underscored. The man also advised them not to involve themselves, or the Government at large, in potential disputes such as partisan politicking; taking sides in land and other public disputes; dilatory or strong-arm tactics in dealing with the general public; engaging in disputatious squabbles and other negativisms.
They ought to cultivate, encourage and foster the positive habits of good listening to the citizens in their domain, and to dissenting or minority views in particular. This is with a view to arriving at just decisions at all times that will stand the true tests of time. All in all the bottom line is for these leaders to be equipped with the necessary tools of their leadership, that is first know the rules and once you have mastered them, you can bend them.