Following the recent appointment of more than hundred district commissioners (DCs) and their subsequent ten days training at Dodoma has unleashed a very interesting debate on how they were going to perform their duties without titling to political paradox.
While opening their training which included Regional Commissioners and other top officials, the Prime Minister counselled them to desist from falling preys into politics but, however, he insisted that they should see to it that they implement the ruling Party Election Manifesto!
Of course, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda knew what he was talking about but do people have the same capacity of understanding like him? Of course the Party Election Manifesto is all about development; it is devoid of ideological inclination or regionalism and we are all the beneficiaries regardless of our party affiliations. But does it sound well when it is blown in that way?
Party Election Manifesto was specifically meant to woo electorates to put their party into power! Some of the party pronouncements are not implementable but were only meant to hoodwink the electorates! Would you expect the Misenye International Airport to be constructed and the relevant DC should start now preaching on that?
Suffice to say that the Party Election Manifesto is a high level statement like the Mkukuta, the UNs Millennium Goals and others which have been adopted in the Vision 2025 so as in the Five Years Development Plan for implementation. And this is a document which has been passed in the Parliament for its implementation; there is no dispute about it!
By the way, are these District Commissioners politicians or administrators? To the best of my knowledge these are supposed to be government officials representing the President in their jurisdictions!
But the message I am getting on the manner they were appointed is akin of being politicians. It was not surprising that there was a heated argument in the previous Parliamentary sessions when discussing the role of DCs in the Review Bill on the new Constitution. There were others who had a feeling that these DC are affiliates of the ruling party!
Which professional line do they follow to reach to that post of a DC? I am not advocating going to the old procedures but I remember we used to have Assistant District Officers (ADO) aspiring to becoming DC and then possibly Provincial Commissioners! At least as civil servants, there must be a career path and not handpicked randomly.
It was understandable in the early years of independence to handpick them as we were struggling to build our capacity but not after fifty years of independence where we have several institutions of higher learning.
The prerequisite demanding skills of our DCs are not really clear; as they are themselves a mixture of everything! You have teachers, journalists, soldiers, party activists, parliamentarians! It is a mixed grill of people!
And a new qualification came in this time, the age! Most of the appointees according to the Prime Minister are between the ages of 30 to 40; probably it is the start of creating career district and regional administrators, though they may later create a stop gap on retirement as they will almost retire at the same time.
However it is a good move having these young people in leadership though it is does not augur well with our culture! How do you throw these young men and women to the districts to work with their elders in pushing development? These are supposed to be technocrats, agriculturalists, educationalists, social workers and not to administer our conservative elders. It reminds me of those years where we dumped young graduates to the districts as DED (district executive director) in that Decentralisation Policy that failed miserably.
Far from that, are we sure that we should expect changes in terms of development from these appointments? The problem is in our planning. We have created more regions, more districts without considering the administrative costs which go together with such expansions. This will always see our expenditure ballooning albeit improved revenue collections.
Did you know that opening these new districts and regions apart from construction of roads and appointing top political hierarchy of the districts and regions, you need more courts, police stations, prisons to effectively manage crime. The build up of crime from such small towns spill over to the cities if the situation remains unattended. How many districts do we have which do not have these amenities resulting in the overcrowding of prisons and police cells; the Segerea episode.
Much that we need to decentralise services to our people, good homework in planning should be done and these issues should be included in the Strategic Plan and shown in the vision 2025 in those time frames.