In the 1970s, the Catholic Mission at Lituhi on the shores of Lake Nyasa (which President Joyce Banda likes to refer to by her country’s name) wished they had a tarmac road link to Kitahi, some 70 kilometers away.
But because the Tanzanian government had no plans to tarmac the road, the Catholic Mission decided to seek assistance from their counterparts in the then West Germany.
And within no time, they were promised that assistance would be forthcoming -- but on condition that the Catholic Mission in West Germany will not only look for the requisite funds, but will also get the contractor for building the road which would on completion be handed over to the Tanzanian government.
However, when the Lituhi Catholic Mission reported the good news to the then Ruvuma Regional Commissioner -- Mr Lawrence Gama -- the latter, according to whispers, told Lituhi Catholic Mission to tell their West Germany counterparts to give the money to the Regional Commission’s office which will then supervise construction of the road.
The rest of the story is now history. The Catholic Mission in West Germany refused to hand over the money to the Ruvuma Regional Commission’s office and to date the road has remained what it was in the 1970s -- minus tarmac!
The argument then was that the Ruvuma Regional Commissioner’s office was not interested in the road but the money. Those who have been following donor funded projects in Tanzania say that what happened in Ruvuma over 30 years ago is however, not new – saying a similar problem almost befell Dar es Salaam’s National Stadium which was funded and constructed by the Chinese government.
Whispers tell us that when President Benjamin Mkapa decided that he would give Tanzanians a memento in the form of a National Stadium, he directed the then Ministry responsible for sports to look for funds for the project. No sooner had the president issued the directive than officials at the sports ministry smelt the ten percent commissions all over the place!
They immediately got in touch with the Chinese government who promised not only to give them the requisite money for the project but also to build the Olympic size stadium. Interestingly, the sports ministry officials grew cold feet – and did not want the Chinese to build the stadium. No, they wanted them to provide them with the requisite funding!
According to Whispers at the time, plans were already afoot to get a South African company to execute the project. At this point, the Chinese told a Tanzanian who was close to the Tanzanian government that ‘what you people want is money, not the stadium’ and the all-important message reached its intended target, Hon. Ben Mkapa!
Again, the rest is history. Uncle Ben requested the Chinese to execute the entire project. And that is how one of the best stadia in sub-Saharan Africa was realized.
No do you still wonder why our development partners have lately resorted to giving us assistance in the form of turn-key projects instead of handing us money?
You certainly don’t need a degree in political science to understand that. Our development partners want to ensure that whatever we ask from them in the form of assistance is immediately available. They don’t want us to get to a situation where we end up building many projects, including the intended one, along with our own in the form of residential houses! Do you remember what the Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere is alleged to have once said when he was being driven from his Msasani home to Bagamoyo for some official functions soon after stepping down as President of the United Republic of Tanzania in 1985?
According to whispers, Mwalimu is alleged to have told one of his handlers; “I now know where the graves (read mansions and castles) of my parastatal organizations are located”!
What Mwalimu meant was talking were the costly houses owned by people who had once served as leaders of dying -- or already dead -- public institutions that suffered from gross mismanagement or outright embezzlement of funds.
Three weeks ago, President Kikwete expressed disappointment over massive corruption alleged to have taken place during the election of leaders of the ruling party’s mass organizations, UVCCM, WAZAZI and UWT.
Rumour mongers are now waiting with bated breath on what President Kikwete will say when he finally steps down at the end of 2015 and sees the kind of cheating that has been going on behind his back.
And while still on whispers, the just ended week was characterized by the Mother of all Whispers, what with the ruling party’s historic elections at the theoretical capital city of Dodoma.
First on rumour mongers’ tongues was CCM members’ decision to hand over the party’s vice chair to a man (Mzee Mangula) who had seven years ago been described by a CCM official as ‘aging dangerously (anazeeka vibaya)’ after he told those who cared to listen to him that it was increasingly becoming difficult for one to win elections in the ruling party due to increased corrupt practices.
According to whispers, when the Party Chairman, Jakaya Kikwete, got fed up with corrupt practices in the preliminary party elections, he sought assistance from former President Mkapa who advised him to bring back to the fold the incorruptible Mangula.
But the million dollar question remains, and that is, having been unfairly discredited by some of the party’s top leadership and abandoned in the woods for seven solid years, can Mzee Mangula succeed where others have failed?
And what is the old man going to do about the already elected party officials holding their posts from acts of bribing their way to the top?
Is Mzee Mangula going to work against them (corruption roaders) or with them? Whatever he does in his new capacity in the ‘rejuvenated’ ruling party, he has certainly a massive job on his hands.
Nobody in their right senses would envy him.