Public servants should make realistic pledges

26Jan 2016
The Guardian
Public servants should make realistic pledges

When Member of Parliament Dr Pudensiana Kikwembe promised to feed all secondary school day scholars in her district should she be voted the constituency’s MP, she may have had good intentions of fulfilling her pledge.

Secondary school students

However, goodwill must be backed with ability to deliver, for a promise is a debt and now parents of Mulele District want the debt paid, in full.
At the start of this week, parents were up in arms at a school board meeting demanding the MP fulfill her pledge.

The development comes as parents scratch their heads over another pledge, this time by the President John Magufuli. During the campaign trail, the President pledged free education all the way to secondary school form four, a promise he has thus far fulfilled.

The free education circular, Government Circular Number 5 of 2015 abolished payment of any fees or other contributions to public schools.

“Provision of free education means pupils or students will not pay any fee or other contributions which parents used to pay before the release of new circular,” reads the circular in part.

In fact, as early as December 22 last year, the government announced that it had set aside 137bn/- to fund the promised free education for the first half of the year, January to June 2016.

What you see in the president’s promise is the ‘means’ to achieving the desired end and during most of his first 60 days in office, the president has become world renowned for his austerity measures that have seen the government report outstanding increase in revenue collection.

With increased revenue, then the government is able to deliver on its promise to offer free education among other pledges. In this wise, the free education pledge was a realistic promise that had a strategy to its fulfillment and it has been met.

Ironically, it is this same free education pledge that has wrought about the anger exhibited by the parents of Mulele District. It turns out that many parents misconstrued the pledge to mean zero expenses when the pledge only covers tuition fees leaving food, uniform and transport expenses upon the parents and guardians.

When this realisation dawned on the Mulele parents, they had little to no worry for not long ago, in fact right about the same time the free education pledge was being aired, contestant for the legislative seat for Kavuu constituency, Dr Pudensiana Kikwembe gave her ‘free food pledge.’

So at the board meeting at the start of the week, parents and guardians caused mayhem when they were told to contribute money for their children’s food; ‘the MP promised to pay for food’ they cried bringing the meeting to unceremonious close.

“She (the MP) promised to pay for food for day scholars for five years if she is elected, so we elected her and therefore it is her responsibility...” one of the parents asserted.

Reached for comments, the MP asked the parents to be patient while she ‘works on a strategy to fulfill her promise to them’ and in the interim, they should go ahead and pay for the food she had promised they wouldn’t have to when she is in office.

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