THERE is a saying of the wise, which I tend to subscribe to - to the effect that there is no bad soldier but a bad captain, which by extension, could also mean that there is no bad mwananchi but a bad leader. It all makes sense, doesn't it?
Soldiers and by our extension, the mwananchi need guidance and motivation perform better in their respective undertakings. In the military or warfare sense, it could be fatal. A whole company led by a half-baked or a negligent commander can be wiped out by a hail of bullets from the enemy army.
In a nation's leadership and governance sense, a leader who fits into the negative description above can cause such deterioration in services that could negatively impact on the entire development tempo.
National governance is a collective undertaking that necessitates the collective contribution of all and sundry. Compare it with the tug-of-war game - the lazier and negligent some of the pullers on the opposing side get, the bigger the chance is - yes, of losing.
I draw parallels with the recent move by the Central Committee of CCM (CCM-CC) to summon some of the cabinet ministers who in the ruling party's view have been seen underperforming in their given duties.
According to a statement relayed to the media by the CCM's Secretary of Ideology and Publicity, Mr Nape Nnauye, National Party Chairman, President Jakaya Kikwete, will decide on the fate of underperforming cabinet ministers.
He went on to say that the CCM-CC has even summoned seven ministers to give an explanation on the various issues brought up following the visit to a number of regions by the party's Secretary General, Mr Abdulrahman Kinana, who was accompanied by other senior party officials, including the party's Secretary for Politics and Foreign Relations, Dr Asha-Rose Migiro.
I wouldn't want to speculate on the 'underperformance' nature, details or controversy the responsible ministers are mired in. Yet, on the surface of it all, the honourable ministers served with the CC summons preside some of the key and hence most important ministries in the cabinet.
The ministries on the CCM-CC quiz list include Education and Vocational Training, President's Office (Public Services Management) and Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives. Others are the Prime Minister's Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments), Industry and Trade, Fisheries and Livestock Development and Finance and Economic Affairs.
The fact that one of the ministries mentioned, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, cuts across the lives of all Tanzanians, needs no belabouring. It deals with agriculture, which is the mainstay of the country's economy. The other undertaking, food security is equally important much as it touches the lives of all Tanzanians.
Food is life and without it there is no life the same way water is. The nation's life has frequently been jolted by intermittent food shortages One wonders why the water ministry has not been included the quiz list. Could it be that it is performing better? I am sure this would raise many eyebrows! Maybe it has been included in the list of responsibilities for the local government ministry bearing in mind that local government traverses across everything in our midst.
The intermittent food shortage that has at times especially hit the rural areas in cases of poor harvests is one area that really needs explaining and acting upon. In an avowedly agricultural country, it is unthinkable to even talk about the existence of food shortage anywhere in this vast arable land of ours.
The opposite should in fact be the story to be told, focusing on abundance - not shortage. As for education, the dismal national examination performances year in year out, especially in the public schools, is a bone of contention that needs addressing, reviewing and remedying.
Mr Kinana's cross-country tour must have revealed a lot of shortcomings in the implementation of the CCM election manifesto and the national development agenda. They include disputes between pastoralists and peasants, shortage or scarcity of water in the regions and unequal provision and distribution of fertiliser and other farming inputs.
It is no secret that the area of regional administration and local governments is fraught with insurmountable challenges that threaten to erode the very confidence of the people on their government.
Yet despite the goodwill by the central government to spread all services, including health, education, agricultural extension and water supply fairly and evenly to all parts of the country, it seems some of the key functionaries, including cabinet ministers and some of the senior officials under their supervision had reneged on their duties.
The land sector is faced with a lot of challenges, which has given rise to numerous public complaints. Most notable challenges include unfair and unequal distribution, farmer-pastoralist conflicts and constant land-grabbing by wealthy and greedy personalities. Ministers, being the chief supervisors in their respective ministries, are duty bound to ensure compliance and result from their staff.
They are accountable for everything that goes on within their ministries. Being a CCM government, it is only too appropriate that the ministers, all of whom belong to CCM in the Union Cabinet and most of whom come from CCM in the case of Zanzibar, should be accountable to the ruling party and the people.
It remains to be seen or heard on what the summoned ministers will be able to convince their party on the detailed shortcomings. The ministers who hold the above-mentioned portfolios are persons of proven high integrity and commitment and devotion to serve.
They were picked to the cabinet purely on merit. The CCM-CC summonses are not by any means judicial subpoenas; they are a normal and healthy practice pursued by any credible political party worthy the name, let alone ruling parties.
It is the expectation of all that the summoned ministers will give appropriate and convincing explanations that will contain useful suggestions aimed at charting out better strategies or course of action aimed at improving implementation at our ministries.