Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

21 June 2014

Tanzania: Show Tanzanians You Can Deliver Better Goods

THAT to criticise is the simplest task even a toddler can perform well is no longer news. It is like saying the sun will rise from the East tomorrow.

What is required is to say this ugali is bad because it is overcooked or undercooked, and you go ahead to demonstrate how the best ugali is prepared, like balancing the mount of flour versus amount of water and when to mix the two.

But if you do not know how to prepare ugali, do not run into the streets shouting at the top of your voice that the food is bad. You may refuse to eat it, but do not shout about it unless your aim is to humiliate and insult your wife in public.

No, this is not to say that people should not be critical in whatever they read or hear, to the contrary. Certainly you should be encouraged to be critical, very critical for that matter.

But you must remember to offer solutions or alternative way of doing things. I am referring to the current budget session going on in Dodoma, in particular, the 2014/2015 finance estimates tabled in the august House by the Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, Ms Saada Mkuya Salum.

As usual, there are always two sides of the coin or sometimes a third side for the undecided. These are those who do not understand the intricacies of the figures and decide not to contribute to the debate lest they expose their ignorance of figures. But the estimates are also debated by members of the public from outside of the Parliament.

Here again the estimates are subjected to critical analysis by finance and economic experts just like in the National Assembly. There are those who support the government experts and there are those who oppose the estimates but each side giving reasons for their reaction. We always read in our local papers that this group of experts rubbishes government estimates giving reasons why they do not support it.

However, another group of experts would say how good the estimates were and would applaud the government for a job well-done. Different opinions on the same figures, yes, and this is life.

But all said, there is this learned old professor with whom I have a bone to pick. One financial year in, one fiscal year out, the professor finds joy in criticising the government estimates in its totality, and in all cases, the conclusion is the same: "The government estimates are unimplementable".

This guy is a renowned personality in the field of economics in our beloved country of the United Republic of Tanzania and beyond and he draws huge respect among his peers.

At one time or the other, I'm told, he worked as Presidential Economic Advisor to some head of state in one of the neighbouring countries. Quite an Honour, if you ask me. Come multi-party democracy and the guy wants to become president through one of numerous political parties.

He manoeuvres his way up and, assisted by his usomi, gets elected national chairman of his party, consequently paving his way to become his party's likely presidential candidate for the forthcoming general elections. One would expect such a learned professor to do more than simply 'kuiponda' budget.

One would expect him to graphically show to us stakeholders how and why the budget cannot be implemented, but, more importantly the professor should come up with an alternative implementable budget to convince us stakeholders that our son is, indeed, a learned person and we can trust him with the reigns of the country.

Otherwise, to many of us he remains just another leader from the opposition inebriated with the desire to become citizen No. One, so that he adds another title to his name: The President, Professor...... We know that as an opposition leader, one of your tasks is rubbish 'everything' the ruling party says or does through its government.

The aim is to keep the government awake all the time. And I must admit that you are doing quite well in this field. Bravo!!! This is the good part of democracy.

Yet, what the opposition seems to forget is to offer a better alternative that would show the difference between them and the party in office.

So, how do they expect us to know that they can do better than the current administration? Certainly not by simply criticising other people's creations.

We cannot entrust our country to people on a trial basis; that will be too expensive a mistake to make ever. There is fear, among the opposition, I'm told, that if they reveal their plans and strategies to the public, the government, through its ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) will hijack the ideas make them theirs.

On this, the most I can say is that this is ridiculous, because only a complete nincompoop would steal an idea already made public and if they do, they would be heaping shame on themselves, which, by extension, it will be to the advantage of the opposition. Yes, let the opposition carry on with their noble task of criticising the actions of the government so that it stays awake to do what it was put there to do.

But they should do so in good faith, that is without malice and they should remember to offer better alternatives. Otherwise, we, the stakeholders, will assume that they have no better alternative. So why should we give them the mandate to run the country? They must first show us that they deliver better goods.

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