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Stop politicising everything

8th January 2012
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Editorial Cartoon

Tanzania has become a nation of too much shoddy politics with cheap politicians using potential voters as their stepping stones to gain popularity or attract media coverage.

When the nation was facing severe power rationing instead of joining forces to curb the situation, our politicians embarked on deadly proxy politics of witch hunting as well as popularity search within and outside the ruling party.

We made the power crisis a personal affair of Minister William Ngeleja and several of his colleagues, ignoring the truth that it was indeed a matter of national energy policy, which was ignored many years ago within the government as well as representative organs, not to speak of civic lobbies.

Nobody questioned how much capital was invested in the Tanzania Electric Supply Co (Tanesco) during the past decade to justify expectations of availability of about 1500 megawatts required by industry, office and domestic users, according to current economic conditions.

Every lawmaker contributing to debate in Parliament when estimates of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals were presented demanded that his or her constituency be connected to the national power grid. But none of them asked where the money to produce and supply electricity to their constituencies would come from. Even at the time when the crisis was looming some lawmakers within the ruling party uttered very stunning remarks, saying they would rather see a total blackout in Tanzania rather than allowing Tanesco to purchase the Dowans’ power generating plants at the cost of $60 million.

But when the situation worsened last year, the very same people were the first to shout shamelessly, demanding explanation on why the country was in total darkness. The problem with this kind of politicians is that they have a very short memory and that’s why they quickly forget their past remarks or actions.

A few years ago the government ordered the eviction of all Jangwani valley dwellers, but the move was strongly opposed by some lawmakers in Dar es Salaam. These MPs claimed that it was unfair to disturb their voters by evicting them from their permanent homes without compensating them. They forgot that you can’t compensate illegal dwellers who illegally invaded a piece of land and erected their squatters.

When the floods hit Dar es Salaam at the end of last year, lives were lost, property destroyed and many left homeless, but our MPs from Dar es Salaam were in safe haven, living in properly surveyed areas. These shameless lawmakers never opened their mouths to apologise for defending illegal dwellers living in flood prone areas.

To these MPs this turn of events was just another passing cloud.

Today they have jumped into another cheap politicking, this time around, targeting the Minister for Works, John Magufuli’s move to increase the ferry trip fare from Sh100 introduced in 1997 to Sh200.

The Dar es Salaam MPs among other things demand an apology from the Minister due to his humour-laced remarks as to ‘diving’ instead of paying the new fare, and secondly they demand immediate suspension of the newly announced ferry fare.

While Minister Magufuli may have erred in his remarks with good intent to defend the increment of the fare, the truth is that we have turned everything into cheap politics, pretending to defend the people while in actual sense we are just after cheap popularity.

These politics of deceitful and chest thumping will not develop this country. Is Sh200 too expensive for Kigamboni residents to pay? Are we really addressing reality or just pretending?

The appalling thing is that some people still dream of having free services provided by the government to the extent of suggesting that there shouldn’t be any fare charged for Kigamboni passengers who use the government owned ferry.

Their views are that the government should foot the bill and Kigamboni residents enjoy free services, giving an example of what is happening in Mombasa, at the Likoni ferry. These are seriously flawed views that don’t consider the actual reality of our economy.

It is just cheap politics from some of our politicians, which should be shunned at any cost if we really want to achieve rapid development. Politicians should be ready to speak the truth and address reality instead of deceiving the masses simply to maintain cheap popularity.

SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY
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