THE recent wrangling in the National Assembly between MPs of different parties - mostly pitting CCM and CHADEMA - as seen live on local TVs was not a positive political development in Tanzania.
These activities have generated public fear that eventually MPs will deviate from accepted procedure and engage in something more serious -- a fight maybe. God forbid! MPs are expected to be people of integrity and the electorate is banking on them for solution to various social and economic problems facing the nation. Therefore, voters expect MPs who represent them in the National Assembly to tackle issues which are of public interest.
Tanzanians are faced with a host of a variety of problems related to water scarcity, health, education, land ownership, pension and unemployment among others. They expect their MPs to address these problems in and effort to seek their solutions.
Even a survey carried out shortly after the start of multiparty democracy in Tanzania by the Eastern and Southern African Universities Research Programme (ESAURP), revealed that the majority of voters said they preferred contestants who were conversant with their problems. Multipartysm does not signify enmity between politicians of different parties; rather it is a means by which different parties should compete in bringing about or accelerating the social and economic development of the nation.
The ruling party is an implementer of development programmes and opposition parties are supposed to be watchdogs of what's going on and provide constructive criticism when something is off the track. Another watchdog is the media. Besides, politicians - whether from the ruling CCM or CHADEMA or CUF - should take into account that they are all Tanzanians and servants of the people of Tanzania. Apart from political leaders, Tanzanians also belong to various political parties or non after the introduction of political pluralism in the country in 1992.
Despite their political differences, Tanzanians are brothers and sisters and a one nation. Tanzania is a country which has enjoyed peace and tranquility since attaining independence from Britain in 1961. People of various ethnic groups, various faiths and atheists have lived together in perfect harmony.
This is a demonstration of steady national unity which the founding father of this nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, battled for, which should be preserved for the good of all. Other countries have always admired Tanzania as a uniquely friendly country and many foreigners had fled their home countries to seek refuge in this country. However, latest developments in the southern Tanzania town of Mtwara, for instance, have to some extent tarnished the name of Tanzania in the eyes of foreigners.
Recently, Mtwara people staged a violent demonstration against a government plan to lay down a gas pipeline from the place to Dar es Salaam. They had wanted the project to remain in Mtwara so that it could provide employment to people of the under-developed area. Eventually it came to light that Mtwara people were misled by politicians seeking popularity.
The project is equally going to benefit Mtwara residents as plans are under way to establish cement and fertilizer factories as well as to expand the seaport for the exportation of liquid gas. If Tanzanians go to civil war, everyone is going to be the loser. People will lose their relatives, businesses will collapse and development will grind to a halt. The majority of ordinary Tanzanians did not prefer a multi-party system.
When the Presidential Nyalali Commission set up in the early 1990s to, among other things, seek public opinion on whether Tanzanians wanted to change their political system, 80 per cent of the respondents were in favour the status quo. But the ruling party - CCM - pushed for multipartysm to cope with the prevailing global outlook.
Tanzanians feared to change their political system primarily because they had lived in peace and harmony in a single party system for many years. Changing this system could have a detrimental effect to them. Tribal politics, regional differences, religious differences, favouritism and other vices could surface. Besides, multiparty politics is an alien culture. What is suitable for a white man is not automatically suitable for a black man.
For example, white men find no wrong in being a "gay" but for black Africans it's a taboo. During the pre-independence epoch, African rulers - chiefs and headmen - had absolute power and were held in high esteem by members of the community. After independence, many African countries were governed by single parties whose leaders also assumed absolute power which in the Western word was branded as "dictatorship".
But it was a traditionally, culturally and democratically acceptable way of African leadership. The Western powers who dictated to us to change into multipartyism did so for their own advantage. Divide and rule. In Europe and the United States what is seen to be a multiparty political system is, in fact, a mono-party system. In the US, for instance, Republican and Democratic parties are single party because they serve the interests of the affluent class.
Now, perhaps, President Barack Obama, is trying to focus on the disadvantaged. Likewise, in Britain there is in practice little difference between the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. The latter founded to promote the interests of the working class has in fact developed into a bourgeois oriented party. Both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party are therefore expressions of the bourgeoisie and reflect its ideology.
What ordinary Tanzanians want are not parties. Whether there is one party or several parties it matters nothing to them. What they want is poverty alleviation and a good standard of living and they will be pleased to have in place a party or parties that advocate this want and meet their expectations.
In any civilized community, however, there must be some limit to the exercise of any freedom - political, economic, cultural, religious or social. There are laws, regulations and restrictions made by the Society requiring one to conform to for the general good; otherwise we should have many abuses and great social difficulty.