18 June 2017

Tanzania: Ethics - JPM's Vision and National Interest

Photo: The Citizen
President John Magufuli speaks at State House in Dar es Salaam on Monday after he received the second Presidential Committee report on the mineral concentrates saga. The President took a swipe at senior government officials who presided over the signing of dubious contracts with multinational firms.

I love my country and I have a reason for this. Among other things, when mother Tanzania is compared to other countries of the East African bloc, we are told, as it stands today, it is doing fairly well when it comes to the enjoyment of democracy, a basic right of citizenship.

The world is talking about us. They look at us and say the democratic satisfaction in the country is being exercised under conditions of freedom, equality, transparency and responsibility, with due respect for the plurality of views.

Interestingly and of course comparatively, the world says whatever we are doing, say for example, on vivid commitment of the 5th government to ensuring economic growth, we are actually doing it in the interest of polity. It may not be a 100 per cent, but at least this is uplifting news.

We therefore need to keep the ball rolling. Even though there are still lots of serious democratic gaps to be attended to, but at this juncture, it is worthy and right to say, let's pray and hope that Tanzanians will continue in this direction and that each one of us will understand that it is the right of everyone to take part in the management of public affairs for the good of the country.

Today my pen is taking me to think with you some important issues pertaining to the role of opposition, our democracy and the future of our country. Though there are quite a number of countrywide stern issues that one can talk about, but what connects quite quickly today is the ongoing discussion on the two reports on mineral sand that JPM has received. The debate is very hot. In my view, it will continue to be so, and for a long time in the history of our country.

As the second report on mineral concentrates gets digested by the public, in my view, the want of moral singleness, simplicity, and intensity of purpose is of utmost importance if, and only if, we want to avoid failure in the ongoing economic war.

Our common sense suggest that it is high time that we insist on unity of command, create and apply multiple alliances and coalitions. In fact departure from these principles, something that seem to be slowly creeping in when one hears the ongoing public debate on the second mineral sand, is not good news. Unity is not an option now, but a necessity.

One can understand the agitation and distress of the opposition that what is happening now is the very late response to their over twenty years cry for justice on the embryonic mining sector dominated by gold in this poverty stricken country.

It is also indeed right for the opposition to feel that, for a number of decades they have been snubbed, dishonoured and disregarded. Yes it may look as if it is already too late even if their long time firm and realistic prediction on mining exploration and gold export is being taken seriously now, but the truth is, it is high time we united.

JPM is committed to the economic war. It is not time that the relationship between the ruling and opposition parties get strained due to the caveats placed upon the use of past failures to meet peoples' hopes. This is a new season, with a new vision, that needs newly recognised unity.

And the opposition hopes are genuine, because they spring from the fact that wananchi are aware of the fact that their country continues to be reportedly well endowed with minerals, with considerable developments already underway to see how this wealth could have a tangible and significant positive impact on economic situation of their mother Tanzania.

As we all work towards protecting national interest in the exploitation of our natural resources, the primary function of the opposition should continue to be that of offering a credible alternative to the majority in power. Under no circumstance one could deny that theirs is a duty clearly stipulated that they shall do so in law-making and oversight of the executive.

Dr Alfred Sebahene is a lecturer at St. John's University of Tanzania.


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