Lazy youth hypnotic of state’s handouts

23Apr 2016
Francis Semwaza
The Guardian
Lazy youth hypnotic of state’s handouts

Tanzania’s newly released statistics detailing major finding that over 71 per cent of Tanzanians do not like working, come as no surprise as they augment President John Magufuli’s

view point manifested more than a month ago while swearing in the newly appointed Regional Commissioners.

He dismissed Tanzanians, especially the youth as lazy, implying they were fond of making money without a desire to toil.
Had it been pure politics, the findings would have been regarded a plot designed to serve the presidential popular rating, but given the inclusive nature of the issue the view holds no water for a president who had ordered the regional bosses to drag the entire workforce within their jurisdiction into compulsory sweating for earnings.

He has on numerous occasions been insisting that for real development to take place, joint efforts and commitment from both the leaders and the citizens were a necessary requisite.

While the government has been doing its best in putting the hard work philosophy into action, the public remains complacent, and perhaps ambivalent in doing the same. All it does so far has been either applauding or complaining against the measures taken by the president and his cabinet ministers.

Amid the ongoing problem of unemployment which, according to statistics, stands at less than 20 per cent, some people could still use it as a pretext to defend, propagate and entertain their hatred of work, expecting the government to provide them with job handouts.

While the handouts may take long to wait given the lengthy process for government’s planning and industrialization drive, the people might resort to abandoning the pretext and start working with the resources at their disposal.

Development and maintenance of infrastructure is one of the areas calling for immediate public attention, as it could help to cut down transport cost if both tarmac and gravel roads could be leveled, puddles and ditches filled in; the traffic congestion could be eliminated, saving billions of shillings that could be otherwise lost.

Mass mobilization in maintaining transport infrastructure in line with the ongoing monthly campaign on communal cleaning of the environment and the loudly trumpeted austerity measures would also be vital in supplementing other measures in doing away with the culture of complacence amid poverty.

Now that people will assume more responsibilities, the country will have yet won its fight against people who would be maintaining the ‘business as usual’ approach in public service and the private sector.

But the public conscious and subconscious resistance to change and its perpetual cheering of the actions taken by Magufuli in ensuring accountability, can be argued as showing more of hypocrisy than a support on the president, and can thus be seen as hindrance to the country’s development programmes.

Borrowing and flipping the once famous Chinua Achebe’s novel “A Man of the People”, people could surmise that while there can be a man of the people, for their unwillingness to work, oftentimes the people are their own worst enemies.

For their selfish interests, however, and for having their expectations unmet, the people would turn and consider a leader who may have served their interests quite well into “An Enemy of the People” as detailed in Henrik Ibsen’s book regardless of whether they belong to the ruling or opposition political party.

Therefore, the biggest challenge to Tanzanians today will be to move beyond their business as usual approach and start working hard to support their newly elected leader in the quest to bring people-centered development in a poor resource-rich country.

Squirming from this position requires desperate measures that largely include strict fiscal discipline on many fronts typical of President Magufuli’s who has, among others, increased budgetary allocation for development activities for the financial year 2016/2017.

The anti-poverty measures, however, would prove futile if the people do not change their mindset which, according to Magufuli, is necessary for meaningful development. The changes should go in line a war on corruption and irresponsibility and thus improving efficiency and the quality of services offered to Tanzanians.

The outlined steps if taken with full commitment, could save the state money that would be otherwise used in other development activities such as buying desks, books and other supplies for schoolchildren.

In so doing, the government will have the burden relieved, prompting leaders into increasing their commitment to the service of the people.

*Francis Semwaza is a Dar es Salaam-based Political Strategist and Development Communication Specialist. For comments: E-mail: [email protected]; Phone: +255 71 646 6 044.