Elevating women in elective politics is praiseworthy idea

06Sep 2019
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Elevating women in elective politics is praiseworthy idea

SOMETHING is changing towards the start of a new round of our national electoral season, with local government elections due later this year and the General Election next year.

Three leading religious organisations have embarked on a campaign to address issues that lock women out of elective politics, a move that could have a positive impact in some measure.

This is what was affirmed in earnest by highly placed officials with the organisations, with Tanzania Episcopal Conference secretary general Fr Dr Charles Kitima saying the programme was co-sponsored by the Muslim Council of Tanzania (Bakwata) and the Christian Council of Tanzania.

He said the crusade would involve training meant to enhance women’s interest in political leadership and advocacy to rectify policy issues hindering the participation of women.

The need to bring women more into political life constantly comes up especially with women activists in NGOs and CSOs like the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (Tamwa), which has worked assiduously in past years over that point.

It must be said that the association’s efforts were crowned with success to a considerable extent, though it is evident that the country has not had similar efforts in the past five or even ten years, so a gap surely exists in the level of ‘awakening’ in the present generation.

The committee around Fr Dr Kitima is trying to work on issues raised by a study involving experts from the three faith-based organisations, and its observation that women are commonly less interested than men in elective leadership owing to factors such as a shift in election agenda.

It is argued that many women stand disenchanted, believing that most people seek elected positions just to enrich themselves, which isn’t the sort of inspiration that would fire any morally upright person into politics.

Fr Dr Kitima said women are by nature caretakers and most of their economic activities involve caring for the family, and therefore they are less interested in leadership processes because they believe leadership has lost the path from being a service platform to a wealth accumulating platform.

That is where a new problem crops up, and it is that if more women are satisfied with the work of the current government in relation to using the political platform to advance societal welfare and national needs instead of pursuing of private wealth, should that be lead towards more activism or silent support?

It is possible that clerics feel that more women contesting in local government polls and later in parliamentary and even presidential elections shall help to clean the slate somewhat, so to speak.

Indeed, it might add to honest endeavour to do something good, and dampen discouraging voices upset by cutting off various avenues to corruption.

While the conference reminded participants of the legacy of producing strong women leaders the likes of former Foreign Minister and UN Under-Secretary General Dr Asha-Rose Migiro and former Lands minister and Pan-African Parliament President Getrude Mongella, several other names come to mind.

For instance, there was Amina Chifupa, a daring young legislator who once told the legislature that was privy to a list of top operatives in the drug trafficking trade, and stumbled into disease and death soon after.

She was truly an inspiration to young aspirants for political positions at that time, and hopefully those of the present generation can step into her shoes and those of others and start tackling difficult issues. TEC, BAKWATA and CCT deserve applause for doing what they have decided to do.


Deregistering shoddy contractors partial but still a vital remedy


Tanzania stands to witness the birth of a new drive to spruce up the construction industry, what with the recent directive by President John Magufuli to ministerial bodies to deregister incompetent contractors, saying his administration would not entertain or tolerate shoddy works.

As in most reform moves in the JPM government, the order stands a big chance of being taken up with zeal, and should work.

The president issued this directive when opening a two-day joint meeting of the Contractors Registration Board (CRB), the Engineers Registration Board (ERB) and the Architects and Quantity Surveyors Registration Board (AQRB).

These are qualified supervisory agencies for the industries and are expected to serve as arms of the ministry in ensuring that the sector operates properly and diligently, as implementation of public works heavily depends on contractors’ attitudes and performance. It means that contractors feel, or ought to feel, the compulsion to perform.

Dr Magufuli was emphatic that underperforming contractors would not be tolerated and should not be allowed in the country, querying how the construction of a dam in Mbeya Region has taken more than 12 years and is still incomplete.

He also cited the case of a borehole in the same region on which work has been in progress for a very long time, with public authorities having spent more than 400m/- without the job being completed.

It is quite possible that the problem is routine, if a complete register of such projects were to be prepared and made public.

But while it is true that deregistration would serve as a deterrent, it is evident that would be but a limited solution, as what is dissolved is the company – not the professionals running it.

The men and women behind whatever mess there would be would continue being professionals and could at worst assume different capacities.

That could prove a burden if their names turned up in a contractual bid, as they would likely be turned down. But if controls are loose, they would just switch companies or rename the same firms and work as earlier, as sometime happens.

The president similarly advised the contractors to respect their professional code of ethics so as to regain the “lost glory” of their profession, which he said has been tainted by massive corruption and cheating.

He wished that the entire profession see the construction industry as a respectable and important profession impossible to twist through bribes or financial hand-outs from unscrupulous clients or investors.

Yet, given the hugely competitive world we are in, where does the buck stop but with public authorities – who ought to keep their ethical codes?

In the final analysis, the real sphere of changing ethical orientation is in the government itself, as private sector companies don’t really call the shots but often capitalise on opportunities.

At most the firms can offer inducements if the contractor has any social contact with the relevant public officer, but finally it is the lack of diligence on the part of public sector supervisors that enables shoddy work to be conducted.

This is what the president found out in relation to the gold and tanzanite exports issue: that public agencies sleep on the job, especially thanks to accepting inducements. The state has control over its own employees and can do little to change behaviour in the private sector as they test sensitivity and act.

So, both the diagnosis of the “disease” and the prescription are well known. Why aren’t the “patients” forced to take the “medication” the experts have prescribed – and this without fail?