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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Of the lake dispute and the ping-pong

25th November 2012

 Tanzanians are now wondering what is going on between their country and Malawi over their shared lake which is known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania and Lake Malawi in Malawi.

What makes the entire thing pregnant with all kind of stories is the fact that rumour mongers have set at full throttle their factories turning out one product after another. Last week, the Tanzania Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Bernard Membe told the media that Tanzania and Malawi had agreed to disagree during their negotiations over who owns what part of that Lake.

As we all know, the tug-of-war over the lake -- which is as old as the two countries’ independence in 1960s -- was fuelled by recent reports that Malawi had initiated oil and gas exploration in the Lake.

Mr Membe did not stop there. He went on to tell the media that following the deadlock, they had both decided to send their dispute to the Africa Union’s Elders (former African heads of State).

But hardly three days passed before President Jakaya Kikwete came out with his own version on the issue, that discussions on the Lake Dispute had not yet been axhausted.

The implication of President Kikwete’s statement is that since his foreign minister had hanged up his gloves, the second level of discussions on the dispute will now have to be carried out by somebody whose notch is above that of the foreign minister.

But whispers had other version on the ping-pong between the president and his foreign minister.

They said the development once again reflected the growing chasm within the CCM led government!

Rumour mongers argued that had they been harmony in the government, the foreign minister would have seen his boss before going to the media, meaning that, that would have enabled him to say what the president finally said.

Therefore the differing statements, and in the full glare of the public, between the foreign minister and his boss just goes to show that all is not well in the government.

What is worse, whispers went on, is that the Malawians are watching the ping-pong match between the president and his foreign minister with glee, and of course, for very understandable reasons.

The other issue that caught the attention of whispers was the death of the former minister for education, Mr Jackson Makwetta who died at the Mwaisela Ward, at the Muhimbili National Hospital. Whispers heckled at some government officials who celebrated and eulogised the life of Mr Makwetta, saying he lived a self-less and corruption free life.

Taking on those who had tried, remotely, to compare their lives to what the man who is credited to have been the best minister for education in history led, whispers said the sooner such government leaders realized that the present generation of Tanzanians knew each and everyone to the letter the better.

They said if they really wanted to compare the kind of lives they led to that of the fallen former minister, including of course, the simple house he lived in at Boko kwa Wagogo ( a house alleged to have been built by his children for him), should go ahead and show the public houses they lived in. Yes, they should pluck up courage and tell the public the kind of castles they lived in, in the up-market suburbs of the city , castles whose value can only be realized through ill-gotten earnings.

The point is, whispers said, such people ought to be transparent, show the public what they owned as civil servants, politicians and businessmen and women.

They should allow the public to make judgment on whether or not they could compare themselves to the Makwettas of this land. As they fought for space to compare themselves to Makwetta, some members of the public knew that some of them owned more than two houses, those they had built themselves and others they had usurped from the government in the form of residential houses for government officials! And by the way, do you people know what has been going on last week and the Tanzania Revenue Authority?

Don’t get nervous, the above question was not posed to The Whisperer by a TRA official, but by one of those rumour mongers in this rumour-infested city.

Asked to elaborate, he said for three days this week the TRA systems (call them computers if you like) that are vital for logging in matters central to collection of taxes in this country at its headquarters and other major offices were down!

And when such systems are down, then it becomes difficult to do what is central to the TRA, namely collection of taxes that help, at the end of the day, in making our government discharge its duties. But whispers had other version over the main reason behind the going down of such important systems.

They said it is normally when such things happen when the so called IT men and women go to work, cheat the government, and by extension, it’s the people of their hard-earned money in the form of taxes!

Whispers have it that the same thing come to pass when banks systems go down, thieving takes place and sometimes in millions if not billions!

Therefore the next time you hear systems have gone down, and usually it is in places where collection of money is involved, you should hold your head if not your stomach!

This is because it is during such incidents that some people, some of whom are among us, elect to harvest where they did not sow!

When systems go wrong

The other day it was some systems at the Treasury that went wrong, according to one senior official in the ministry who was explaining to media people a problem that some civil servants had encountered, problems that related to their salaries.

One hopes that no one tempered, during the incident, with government money, for the Treasury or the Headquarters of the Ministry of Finance and Planning is bigger than our banks.

Yes, this is the institution which controls the country’s purse the contents (money) of which can only be used by the country after being approved by the Parliament in Dodoma.

Whispers have it that when systems at the Treasury ‘feel like going down’ then many problems may occur which include thefts.

Rumour mongers aside, computer systems usual go down for a variety of reasons but chief among them are power problems and technical breakdown.

But what raises more questions than answers as far as the going down of such systems is the frequency with which such incidents have been happening!

For instance a day hardly passes in Dar es Salaam without hearing a system in this or that bank going down.

According to whispers, banks that include foreign owned, have been losing a lot of money lately. Interestingly despite such increased thefts, one hardly hears people (alleged culprits) being committed to courts of law.

But rumours have it that for fear of sending away their customers, banks, especially those foreign owned simply sack those alleged to be linked to such thefts and business continues as usual.

The question is with these increased thefts in our financial institutions are we, as a nation, going to get anywhere?

No wonder foreign owned institutions are increasingly looking for foreign employees!