December 12, 2011

Bunge halijakataa posho

Habari ya siku nzuri uliyoianza asuhuhi.  Kama watanzania wengine wenye bahati ya kukutana na magazeti, nimeamka na kupata nakala yangu ya gazeti pendwa The Citizen. Habari kubwa iliyopata macho yangu inasema: Wabunge wakataa posho, wasubiri uamuzi wa rais(Bunge stops allowances,looks out for JK decision).
Ni heading nzuri. Lakini nina kesi nayo. Ukisoma habari inasema kamati ya utumishi wa wabunge imesema ulipwaji wa posho mpya zilizopendekezwa utategemea maamuzi ya raisi. Kwa mtazamo wangu huko si kukataa posho.

Nachoweza kusema ni kuwa kamati ya bunge, imeeleza tu nini kinachofuata katika hatua za kawaida zinachokuliwa siku zote kabla ya kuongeza posho za vikao kwa wabunge. Kwa kweli hilo hata si jipya. Kumbuka katibu wa Bunge alisema jambo  hilo hilo, likatafsiriwa kwa haraka na baadhi ya wachambuzi na baadhi ya waandishi kuwa amesema posho hazijapandishwa. Nilimwelewa kuwa hakuna mbunge aliyelipwa posho mpya.

Kisha Makinda, spika wa bunge akasema kwa kusisitiza, kwanini wameamua kupandisha posho. Lakini pia hakusema kama posho zimelipwa. Kwa uwazi sana alisema anaunga mkono kupandishwa kwa posho. Na hiii ilivuta usikivu wa watu kwa mshangao. Namna gani maisha yawe magumu kwa wabunge tu hapo Dodoma?

Nilimsikiliza vizuri Makinda akisema wameamua kupandisha maslahi ya wabunge, na mahali walipoona ni rahisi kufanya hivyo ni kupitia posho za vikao kwa kuwa hizo zinahitaji tu mapendekezo yao na kisha ukubali wa raisi. Mishahara ingekuchua mlolongo mrefu zaidi.

The Citizen linanukuu vyanzo vya habari toka kamati ya huduma za bunge wakisema kuwa mapendekezo yamewasilishwa kwa raisi. Hiyo si kukataa posho. Wangekuwa wamekataa wangetangaza kuwa wameondoa mapendekezo yao kwa raisi, hawataki tena kujaribu kuongeza posho.

Napendekeza The Citizen ingesema kuwa suala kuongeza posho za wabunge limefika/ameachiwa Rais Kikwete. Kisha wangemtafuta Makinda aseme kwanini aliongea kauli iliyoonekana kuzidi mamlaka yake. Kama ni rais ndiye anaidhinisha, basi yeye kama spika hakutakiwa kusema wameongeza, angesema wamependekeza.

Kuna mengine nahitaji kuongelea kuhusu hili swala. Kwa namna lilivyojitokeza kwenye vyombo vya habari na namna lilivyoongelewa na wasemaji tofauti tofauti: Spika. Katibu Mwenezi wa CCM, Wabunge wa Upinzani, Wanafunzi wa Vyuo, Chama cha Waalimu na wengineo. Nitakuja kuongeza baadaye kwenye makala hii. 

December 8, 2011

Kikwete, play the ball

When presidents end their terms in office they leave a legacy. Some legacies last longer than others. Some are planned some coincidental. The current president of Tanzania has by far best opportunities to leave lasting legacies once he leaves office. It does not matter whether he finishes his five year term in 2015 or not. Opportunities have presented themselves for him to leave lasting marks on the Tanzania landscape, particularly in constitutional process, politics of his party, governance and equally important state of the country’s natural resources.
I discuss these potentials below:

1.   Writing a new constitution
President Kikwete has the best opportunity to put Tanzania on a more democratic course than all the past presidents of Tanzania. His options surpass Mkapa’s, Mwinyi’s and even Julius Nyerere’s. Julius Nyerere, then prime minister facilitated the initial constitution of Tanganyika and later Tanzania after the Union with Zanzibar in 1964. Subsequently, amendments were done by parliament to institute one party rule of the state.

Mwinyi and Mkapa only patched the document to suit certain purposes of their time, like introduction of multipartism and addressing issues related to the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Of all past presidents Mkapa has the least opportunity to facilitate any edit to the constitution.

Comes Kikwete and the winds in the world have changed, multipartism have been here for more than a decade. The right time has come and the condition at home favor, re –writing, not editing the constitution.
It is a good thing that, the president has agreed and boldly announced that the constitution will be re-written. Re-writing is not the same as editing it to suit certain conditions. Kikwete must be proud of the legacy he is going to leave in Tanzania.  He should not liken his role to that played by Nyerere, Mwinyi or Mkapa. His environment is different in many aspects. He is leading citizens of Tanzania; Nyerere was creating citizens of Tanzania.

Kikwete is surrounded by learned interest groups and informed population, Mwinyi  worked in the middle of a population that was just opening their eyes to look at how the world around  has changed while they slumbered. And, while Mkapa redefined Tanzania’s position in the world (having shun socialism in Mwinyi era) Kikwete has the economic and political interest of the world battling against national interest on home soil. On top of that home grown interests need more say about the destiny of their country, than did during the previous presidents. Such conditions prompted for re-writing of the constitution. What a noble cause Kikwete is leading!  Nyerere complained for lack of local expertise, Kikwete surrounded by hundreds of them. The ball is in court. What he decides will put this nation on course to good or bad eventuality.

2.   Divide or unite his fractured CCM
CCM is on the verge of remaking its own history. Kikwete, the chairman of the party knows that. The party is proud of its record as one of the oldest parties of Africa that is still in power. The slimmed victory in the 2010 general elections dented that assurance. Will his departure from state house usher in a new party in 2015?

Infighting among groups who desire to create a successor to Kikwete is growing and is public. The party claims to suffer image problem with labels like mafisadi being thrown around opposing camps. to remedy the situation, Kikwete devised kujivua gamba philosophy. He sought to uproot bad elements through popular appeals, bypassing the party’s old tradition of internal discipline.  The drive bounced back on his heels, asking for even bolder decisions from him—the chairman.

The process of choosing a successor to Kikwete has potential to break the party in at least two opposing factions. So far neither of these factions has openly declared which position they hold on Kikwete. The worst that could happen is not known yet. In 2010 as Kikwete was organizing his re-election campaign allegedly prominent politicians plotted a breakaway party from CCM. Can Kikwete hold back a similar occurrence in the coming election, when he ends his two terms and CCM will need to field a new presidential candidate?

3.   Open Governance
You may have heard it in the news. it may sound lukewarm—particularly because the international organization that Tanzania joined in order to declare it commitment to transparency and accountability in governance has the word lukewarm word—partnership--to it. (Open Government Partnership). But the devil is in the details. By joining OGP Kikwete has committed to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. That may not be very different from making a thousand promises and delivering on only a handful. The difference however, comes from social and communication infrastructures that become obligatory in the OGP package once a country joins voluntarily. Kenya has built an open data portal as part of implementation of OGP principle of transparency. Imagine if the government commissions such a project in Tanzania. As a result you will find thousands of government documents online, no need to write a letter to request for a piece of historical document and wait a couple of months to receive a response that it was classified! You get that document online, in real time. This month Tanzania presented its National Action Plan to implement principles of OGP. Huge opportunities for quick wins exist. The freedom of information law is on the drawing board, the optic fiber has been laid, so a data portal is likely to be wide and far. Last but not list the process of re-writing the constitution is a platform to adopt mechanisms to fight corruption and embrace accountability.

4.   Dissecting natural resources: Road through Serengeti, Power Dam and Uranium mining in Selous Game Reserve
Apart from lasting impressions in governance, one important decision the current presidency should make is whether Serengeti National Park will be permanently be deleted the list of World Heritage. If the proposed 480km road across the wild sanctuary will be constructed Serengeti will not only lose it respected status, but revenue from tourism will decline.

The Works minister, the prime minister and, most importantly, the president himself have repeated that the road will be built, ignoring activism against the road and playing down alternative routes suggested. Wildebeest, giraffe, elephants and the rest of wildlife in Serengeti will have to live with the intrusion of their sanctuary. But it is not too late to reverse the situation.

So far, the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW)—who opposed the project in court-- got a favorable ruling in the East African Court of Justice. That means the Government of Tanzania will have to present its arguments for the road in court against their initial challenge of the Court’s jurisdiction over the matter. But that is only round one victory.

If he resolves, Kikwete has the power to revert the decision and save the ecology for today and tomorrow. All he needs is to compare the Environmental Impact Assessments done by independent organizations and compare with similar assessments commissioned by Government. In both disadvantages outweigh advantages of the road. Opposition to this road is presented alongside alternatives—the southern route especially. If the government chooses to open a road through this alternative route, wild and human will equally breathe in relief for many years to come.

Reportedly, Selous Game Reserve is landscape is being re-drawn. Reason? A proposed dam on Stigler Gorge and Uranium mining. Like the Serengeti road project, the energy generation dam and uranium mining both have government backing. The dam project, as it has come to be revealed is based on remodeling of plans resurrected from 1960s. That is not a sin, but dependence on hydro-electric power has not proven effective for 50 years. Apart from that the effects of climate change on rainfall pattern spell disaster to economies that rely on rain fed power generation. On the contrary rising temperatures of the world could be a blessing for a tropical country like Tanzania to benefit from generation of solar power. Energy is another feasible source of power. Both effects of these projects have been well covered on Wolfganghthome's Blog

Leadership is about decision. President Kikwete’s decisions on these and other issues will define the future of this nation and more importantly he will be remembered for them.

December 5, 2011

Open up or get closed

Transparency and accountability---these two words are taking over the world by storm. The development community--international donors, international non-governmental organizations and local NGOs-- sing the transparency song and give accountability more mentions than ever before.
Politicians are not left out. From Barack Obama to Jakaya Kikwete to the common Matonya on the street and Dr. Kikoti the technocrat, each talks about transparency and accountability.
When Obama brainstormed with think tanks what shall be his legacy on international politics, Open Government Partnership was conceived. To qualify into the ambitious partnership government must make concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.
Tanzania joined in September when OGP was launched in New York. Now a country action plan is being drawn. It will be presented at ministerial conference in Brasilia this very week. Kenya launched an open data portal, just in time with its entrance into OGP. Uganda did not commit to join in September.
Calls for openness and accountability are mounting on governments from all corners. Citizens want to know in real time what their governments are doing with tax money. They need access to quality services from the governments’ facilities. Having watched on TV, read on the internet and heard stories about other citizens’ access to quality services, poor citizens wonder why they too cannot get similar services.
Armed with substantive information, citizens can follow up for their own rights. This quest for more and more information cannot be quenched with bits of facts here and there. Readers ask critical questions when they read shallow ‘news’. In turn journalists push for more information. Gradually the red tape recedes, if it has to stay.
This is not the first time transparency and accountability is given a show on international dialogue. The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness set out guidelines on accountability but it proved difficult to enforce in practice. The Accra Declaration for Action gave the much needed relief to donors willing to pursue accountability. Following the frustrations, few donors collectively formed International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).
The current drive for transparency and accountability distinguishes itself from the past attempts in several ways.  By going through the current financial turmoil, the world—donors and recipients of aid—have learn effects of lack of accountable systems and dependence on flawed mechanisms of transparency and accountability. Effects of the financial crunch in Europe and America help to illustrate the extent of damage that can be caused by cherished but flawed systems.
The Arab uprising is writing on the wall. A seemingly workable way of governing can be totally flawed from within. London flash mobs and occupy movements in the developed world injures a wound that the financial distress in Europe and America opened.
The message has been sent out vehemently: citizens need more involvement in processes that shape their societies.
To say that recipient governments should open up or get closed is an overstatement. But, it is not totally impossible. Their citizens push for more accountability already. Listen and read the news in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. You will learn about threats and plans to demonstrate.  
Names can be different:Walk to walk in Uganda. Wamachinga impromptu protests in Mwanza and Mbeya. Demonstrations against rising costs of living in Kenya. Activists demanding more citizens’ involvement in constitution process in Tanzania. A common thread in all these actions is anger at laxity in fighting corruption and impunity for misuse of public resources.
Imagine how much trouble can be avoided by just crunching down budget data and making it available to citizens. For a country like Tanzania whose budget is donor supported by more than 40%, openness could be phenomenon. If donors will publish what they fund and governments publishes how it spends donor money, citizens will ask questions whose answers will make practical difference.
Now, than any other time in the history of the world, donors and recipients of aid are speaking in the same tone as far as accountability on international aid is concerned. In the past, donors were doing too little to track effectiveness of the 1% of their GDP they committed for fight poverty and disease in poor countries.
There can be reservations still about opening up. As Jammie Drumond writes, transparency and accountability risks exposing problems to critics of aid that they will shout from rooftops. But concealing or doing business as usual holds a much bigger risk of mistrust with donors and scaling down donations. Global Fund will be slashed partly because of alleged corruption.
Transparency route is gaining popularity immensely. New international NGOs and initiatives have been formed with transparency and accountability as their core agenda. DAC, International Budget Partnership, IATI, African Monitor’s Development Support Monitor, Humanitarian Accountability Principles, BetterAid, AidData and Aid Information Management Systems are just some of them.
The accountability and transparency street is far from fully occupied. The pace is fast and room for hesitation is limited. By far IATI is the most promising contemporary initiative in terms of delivering the action that is needed at the international level.

During the Busan conference on transparency 7 new signatories joined AITI. In total the organization has 27 members.
That accounts to 80 per cent of official development finance. For a country like Tanzania, which is on the receiving end of aid, jumping on this boat becomes imperative. Tanzania is the third country, behind Iraq and Afghanistan in receiving development finance at the tune of USD 3 billion by 2010.
Some donors have taken a leap to build the groundwork for transparency by taking bold steps  to support initiatives, like Twaweza, that expand access to information so that citizens can use it hold government accountable.

It is just a matter of time before development aid is 100% tied to transparency and accountability.

December 1, 2011

Kazi yako ina maslahi?

Kazi yako ina maslahi? Niliulizwa na rafiki yangu mmoja hivi karibuni wakati tunabarizi uswahili kwetu tukijadili mwenendo na mustakabali  wa maisha tunayoishi.
Nikajibu, ndio, kisha nikataja mshahara naopata.
"Ah, hapana. Nasema, yaani, pesa," alijibu huku akinyoosha mbele yangu mkono na  kusuguasugua dole gumba lake kwenye ncha za vidole vingine.
Nikajibu, "Ndio mshahara naopata ni pesa, silipwi chakula." huyu jamaa huwa ana kawaida ya kuuliza maswali tata.
"Naona hujanielewa," alisema tena, na sauti yake ikiungana na sura yake kunishangaa.
Kweli sikumwelewa mapema.Mimi nilielewa kuwa maslahi ni mshahara unaopata mwisho wa mwezi baada ya kufanya kazi. Hivyo, jibu la swali lile pale barazani kama angeendelea kunighasi ningemwambia mshahara naopata unatosha, ntafanyaje sasa.
“Unajua kuna kazi zingine zinakuwa na mshahara mdogo, lakini zinakuwa na marupurupu mengi,” alianza kutoa muhadhara. Nakubali yeye ni mjuzi wa mambo ya aina hii zaidi yangu. Akaendelea kufafanua; kwamba kuna wafanyakazi wanalipwa shilingi laki moja tu, lakini pale wanapofanyia kazi kuna uwezekano wa kupata mishiko ya hapa na pale hadi wakijumlisha kwa mwezi mmoja wanaweza kutengeneza hadi laki 3.
Si huyu tu anayeongelea maslahi namna hiyo. Nilipoanza kuvumbua maana ya maslahi nilikumbuka kuna mengi nilishasikia. Mwingine alinilaumu kuhusu kazi niliyoiomba kisha nikaikataa baada ya kugundua mshahara wake ni mdogo. “Umechemsha wewe,” alinambia huku akitupa mkono hewani kuashiria ujuha wangu.
“Ni kweli ile kazi mshahara kidogo. lakini pale kuna visafari na visemina vya hapa na pale. Kwa maelezo ya mzoefu huyu, kwenye hiyo ofisi wafanyakazi wakifanya mkutano kwenye ukumbi wa ofisini kwao wanapata pesa. Wakienda nje ya ofisi yao, wakiwa mji ule ule, wanapata posho. wakisafiri…”
Nilifafanuliwa maslahi mengine na yule rafiki yangu wa pale barazani. “Kuna kupata chakula cha bure ofisini, semina, kwenda kuhudumia mabosi wakienda kwenye mikutano nje. Zote hizo ni nafasi za kupata pesa nje ya mshahara,” alisema rafiki yangu, ambaye hufanya kazi ya uhudumu wa ofisi.
Kufikia hapo nilianza kupata mashaka kama kazi yangu ina maslahi. Lakini naipenda, na nikipata pesa mwisho wa mwezi najisikia raha na natumia na kupanga maendeleo yangu. Na, si ndio malipo nilikubaliana na mwajiri wangu!
Niliamua kuweka swali hilo kwenye ukurasa wangu wa facebook. Majibu yakaja. Rafiki mmoja alinitafsiria hata swali lenyewe (kazi yako ina maslahi), aliandika: Je, kuna pesa ya ziada zaidi ya mshahara? (Zile nje ya haki yako stahili) - kuna uwezekano wa kuandaa malipo hewa, wizi wa mali ya ofisi, mafuta ya gari hewa, vipuli hewa, stationery hewa nk nk nk.....
Kwa kazi nayofanya, mezani kwangu kuna kompyuta na nachozalisha ni karatasi zenye sentensi nyingi na machapisho. niliposema machapisho, mmoja akaniuliza, kwani hupeleki kuchapa viwandani? Hapana, nilisema na kutikisa kichwa. “Okay, basi hapo huwezi kutengeneza pesa,” alisema kuashiria mwisho.
Siku mbili zilizopita nilisoma muendelezo wa mjadala mrefu kuhusu posho za wabunge. Najua wanapata mshahara unaofikia Tshs mil 7. Lakini wanaona hazitoshi. Kumbe, wanayo pia mapato nje ya mshahara. Posho za vikao. Wabunge, ambao wanalipwa mshahara kwa kutuwakilisha bungeni(ndipo ofisini kwao), wanalipwa pesa nyingine kwa ajili ya vikao. Loh. Hivi maelezo ya kazi ya mbunge ni nini? Hivi bungeni Dodoma si mahala pa kazi pa mbunge?
Maswali ninayo mengi. Baadhi yameshajibiwa na aliyenicheka kwa kukataa kazi kwenye ofisi ambayo huwa wanawalipa wafanyakazi wao kwa kuhudhuria vikao na semina ndani ya ukumbi wa mikutano wa ofisini kwao.
Kwa vile nimechagua kufanya kazi, basi nitaendelea. Swali nililo nalo binafsi ni kama nina haja ya kutafuta kazi yenye ‘maslahi.’
Nimeshaziona kadhaa, kama ubunge. Rafiki yangu mwingine anayefanya kazi ambayo haina maslahi pia anasema ameanza utafiti ili apate yenye maslahi. Na sehemu mojawapo ya utafiti wake ni kwenye televisheni. Anaangalia ni taasisi zipi huandaa semina na warsha mara kwa mara na kuita wanahabari kupiga picha wajumbe wakiwa katika meza ndefu, wakiwa na chupa za maji mbele yao wakisikiliza wawezeshaji wakitoa mada. “Huko lazima kuna maslahi,” anasema kwa uhakika.
Mimi nimeamua kufanya uamuzi tofauti. Niliuandika kwenye ukurasa wangu wa facebook, rafiki mmoja akajibu ni kama najiua mwenyewe. Nauliza na kwako mwenzangu, kazi unayofanya sasa ina maslahi?

Do MPs represent us?

When I opened the internet today, I searched for updates in favorite websites (I usually like to get drunk with info). I stumbled on 2011 Transparency International corruption perception index. Searching for Tanzania, I found it occupying position 100, with other 7 African countries. Now do not be confused about the position. Tanzania, according to the index is in the red zone—one of the countries perceived to be very corrupt.

From there, I turned to newspapers. I was struck with the headline in Habari Leo that ‘Iringa kuandamana kupinga nyongeza ya posho za wabunge.’(People plan to demonstrate in protest of new increase in allowances to Members of Parliament)’

Whether wananchi will demonstrate as the Habari alerted, the TI index have a justification already. TI takes perceptions of citizens and non-citizens to draw the index. And, yes, corruption is popular in Tanzania. Why not?

The whole world is figuring out cost cutting measures. Tanzania is bold enough to increase seating allowances and travel allowances for members of parliament. Of all people, members of parliament. Shouldn’t this group of people mirror realities in our society? The people that member of parliament represent are live in squalor, struggle to get enough to eat, have less to put their children in good schools and even less to take care of their own health. Many of the poor that our MP ostensibly represents hope barely goes beyond tomorrow.

Before I give my judgement whether MP are justified to demand pay beyond their current remuneration (extras), I should first question the motive behind the idea of increasing pay now. Especially now. In which part of the world is our MP living? In which economy does the money come from?

Is it milked from this very economy that is struggling with an ever growing balance of trade?
Will that money come from the same economy whose production ails from lack of reliable power? Is that new posho going to be paid from the same tax on a farmer who the MP cannot speak for? Are we and our MPs and technocrats ever living in the same society? And finally where did they gather audacity to even think about it? Is the same government that turned away workers who demanded 315,000/- a month going to pay each MP  Tshs 330,000/- day, totaling 28,000 billion annually?

Sure, I can only prejudge the motive as a letdown, a total shame. Some members of parliament have distanced themselves from proposal. January Makamba was quoted in Mwananchi wondering at excuses his fellow ‘women and men of the people’ give for perks. Chadema MPs have also voiced concern. I hope it is not mere politics.

Editorials have been written by several newspapers. I read one in Mwananchi, another one in. but is this enough? I had written in my earlier post on this blog that oftentimes politicians in our country assume everything they say is okay and represent voices of their people.

One of the reasons, according to Makamba, that MPs give for their demand for more pay is that they need it as incentive to attend House sessions. They also need more cash to give handouts to voters who pester them for financial favours.

In other words MPs are telling us they after we have voted them into Parliament we pester them too much for money that they have to up their salaries (from our taxes) in order to satiate our endless calls for cash. I judge this reasons flimsy. Apart from being official corruption the new MPs perks explain the position of Tanzania among the most corrupt nations in the Transparency International index.

And how can it pull itself from the shame position. Each MP gives cash to their voters in exchange for nice opinion when TI enumerators pass questionnaire!

Now, this is what I will do. For one thing I pity the MPs because they do not know how their voters are thinking. For a fact our MP have alienated them from us. They are striving to keep up with the lifestyle of have lots, but notably earning on the coffers we struggle to fill (to no avail). I support the demonstrations in Iringa. I wish I can organize a protest myself; a flashmob is enough to let our ‘esteemed representative’ discover that voting for them did not mean we let them think our behalf. No. we elected MPs to speak on our behalf. Therefore, do not be ashamed to check whether you are still thinking correctly. And if not (mostly the case), do not be dismayed. We elected you to speak for us, in the first place. We will do the thinking, and please talk for us. Tshs 330,000/- a day for an MP who receives Tshs 7,000,000/- is not my idea. Reject it, or be rejected.