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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

A word on Rostam Aziz`s assessment of local politics

24th July 2011

One of the interesting aspects of Rostam Aziz’s move to quit politics and concentrate on his business, as he put it when he made the announcement a few days ago, is that he has done it with a bang and in style. Hence, all sorts of comments on this not so historic event are in the air.

The former MP of Igunga constituency in Tabora Region, as well as former National Executive Committee member of the ruling party needs no introduction in the land.

He is a business tycoon whose name, unfortunately, has been linked to some mega corruption scandals, although he has never been caught red handed in any of those well documented incidents.

The way he has left the political stage has demonstrated to both his friends and foes that he is politically shrewd, and a force to reckon with. The disengagement was well planned and attended, not only by the apparently targeted elders, but also by political supporters of all age groups, if the unprecedented media coverage is anything to go by.

There was drama galore. We witnessed some of his supporters crying, and even fainting, when the main actor dropped his resignation bombshell.

What exactly tempted his political fanatics to exhibit this kind of sentimentalism remains a mystery, especially among those who have not realised that a combination of hard economic times and corruption has turned some Tanzanians nearly crazy, and capable of doing anything to survive.

What do I mean? Look here, if we already have professional mourners at funerals, what is strange with having professional fainters at events like the Igunga one? Was the presence of an ambulance or two in the neighborhood of the event venue necessarily sheer coincidence?

Yet one cannot completely rule out the possibility that some fanatics who cried had a feeling of personal loss. The former Igunga MP belongs to a new breed of MPs who have assigned themselves the role of playing Godfather to their poor subjects by giving the latter little money now and then for personal use.

Some of these MPs try to provide facilities in schools and health centres from their own pockets. Don’t ask me how they manage to do this. The answer is simple - they simply rob Peter to pay Paul!

Enough with the light touch side of Rostam Aziz’s departure from the political stage. Any lesson from this small issue turned into a big national event, partly thanks to media manipulation?

Public comments clearly show that this small cloud may not be without its silver lining. There is this friend of mine who says the incident shows that things will never be the same in the ruling CCM party. It was unimaginable for a cadre waiting to be served a red card to brazenly walk away after telling the top functionaries that they are trading in gutter politics, and get away with it.

But let us give Rostam Aziz his due, as the saying goes. If his parting shot can generate a national debate on whether politics in the ruling party in particular, and in the nation, in general, have really degenerated to the gutter level status or not, then he may end up contributing positively to our society. The self assessment exercise may probably bring sanity to the kind of politics practiced in our midst.

There are a few things characterising the modus operandi of our politics, which might have tempted Rostam Aziz to arrive at that unpalatable conclusion. There is, for example, this daily in-fighting in the ruling party where mudslinging, backstabbing, and conspiring against each other have been turned into a hobby by established politicians and novices. By the way, this prevails even in other parties, but at a lower degree.

Secondly, there is now a strange mentality where every Dick, Tom, Amina and Maganga consider himself or herself as presidential material!

As a result, you have all sorts of politicians who are victims of their imagination, busy forming networks and platforms to take them to the presidential dreamland. In this kind of confused situation, you can expect anything else but clean poilitics.

Another aspect of our politics which deserves mention is that the number of court jesters and praise singers, who are ready to shamelessly tell the naked king that he is resplendent in a three-peace suit, has increased significantly.

Some of these are politicians who end up securing good posts in their parties. What kind of politics do you expect them to practice? Finally, you have politicians practicing what is now known as politics of the stomach. With this kind of scenario, Rostam Aziz’s observation is worth looking into.

Henry Muhanika is a Media Consultant [email protected]

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