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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Of Mbatia`s appointment and Kikwete`s political legacy

6th May 2012

The son of one of the members of the powers that be who imports fuel, after successfully forming a company through the use of the good offices of his father, is rumoured to be circumventing the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).

According to whispers, when the young man first started his business he sought an appointment with the TRA boss with the express purpose of talking him into allowing him to import a certain amount of fuel.

The TRA man immediately worked out the sum of money that the young man was required to cough up in taxes before allowing the black gold into the country. However, the young man said he had no money with him but he would pay the taxes later, but the tax man gave the young man an emphatic no.

However, before the young man left the TRA officer’s office he called his father right there, in front of the tax man, and explained the problem he had encountered. His father on the other end of the phone ordered his son to give the phone to the tax man, and the young man did as instructed.

“I guarantee my son…allow in his fuel…he will settle his tax liabilities later,” the man told the tax man, who curved in without a whimper. Now the following questions are very pertinent: For instance, did the young man live up to his promise? After getting the father’s guarantee, would the tax man continue pestering the young man over the pre-payment of any tax?

Apart from the son, who else gets such favourable treatment by virtue of being close to the powers that be? Whispers have it that because of such incidents, tax collections have dipped quite considerably, hence leading to non-availability of funds for meeting numerous government expenses that include salaries.

For instance, employees in one institution which disburses funds in the form of loans to employees working for institutions that operate under the government have not been paid their salaries for the last four months. A source told the whisperer that the problem facing employees in the said institution is just a tip of the iceberg, that many civil servants have been going without their salaries for the same reason - lack of funds.

Meanwhile tribalism is reported to be rife in the main office of the powers that be where people from one of the regions in the southern highlands hold sway. According to whispers, a permanent secretary from the newly created southern highland region has appointed a region-mate to serve as chairman of the all-important public institution, whose employees have gone without salaries for the last four months.

And the latest whispers over some disgraced members of the cabinet has it that they have been walking around with keys to their offices, fearing the impending reshuffle. However, many people are wondering just how the ministers alleged to be walking around with keys of their offices are going to stop the president from carrying out his reshuffle.

Yet others say local sangomas (witchdoctors) have been making a kill from the ministers who are working day and night to stop the president’s magical hand from removing them from their respective posts. Some ministers are reported to be involved in outrageous adventures just in order to ensure that they continue to remain where they are.

But it certainly makes sense, especially if one considers the fact that some of the ministers have been able to establish companies and acquire mansions very late in life, but after becoming ministers. In another development, many people are wondering from where the president is going to get the right crop of replacement for the disgraced ministers.

This is especially so when one considers the fact that the rest of the MPs from the ruling party are not reformists. They argue that the only reformist Members of Parliament in the House are the six MPs who appended their names and signatures to a paper preprared by Chadema’s Kigoma North MP, Zitto Kabwe.

Kabwe’s list of 75 MPs was prepared in order to move a motion in the House seeking the resignation of Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda for his failure to deal with some of the wayward ministers on his watch. And while still on ministers, this week President Kikwete entered Tanzania’s political annals when he appointed an opposition leader, James Mbatia, a Member of Parliament.

Mbatia is the combative chairman of the NCCR-Mageuzi party. But no sooner had the president appointed the man than rumours swept the city that the appointment had gone a long way to confirming what every Hamis, Bakari and Julius knew but was only uttered in whispers: That the man has all along been a CCM mole.

Unfortunately, that is the problem with politics. That is why whoever ventures into the political minefield ought to have a skin as thick and hard as that of a crocodile. And fortunately for the man, he has indeed a very thick skin, especially if one considers the kind of controversies he has courted and numerous storms he has brewed up in the past two years.

For instance, after he failed to clinch the Kawe constituency seat during the 2010 general election, he filed a petition against the eventual victor, Chadema’s Halima Mdee.

But before hearing of the case could be set in motion, he withdrew the case, shook hands with Halima and asked her to let bygones be bygones. Later, the NCCR-Mageuzi chief sacked from the party a very influential and youthful of Kigoma South MP, David Kafulila.

However, the latter successfully filed a case at the High Court, contesting his sacking. Therefore, following Mbatia’s appointment as Member of Parliament he will now share the same platform with his fellow party member, Kafulila, and probably munch a chicken rib or two together at Dodoma’s famous Chako ni Chako watering hole.

It is however very important to note that President Kikwete’s decision to appoint a member of the ‘opposition’ as Member of Parliament means that he has helped to increase the number of opposition MPs in the National Assembly. But, as has already been pointed out, rumours have it that the President would not have done what he has done if Mbatia was a rabid opposition man.

How true that is only time will tell; but one thing is crystal clear: The man from Msoga has created a telling legacy for himself. And whoever repeats his act later, he will just be walking a well-bitten path.

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