Friday, 1 July 2011


All languages and cultures have proverbs about leadership. One from Madagascar says: “When leaders are wise, so are the people.”  
Good leadership is the most needed element in Africa today. Not only are our leaders mistrusted, they are either despots or total fools; a nice one is considered manna from heaven. Think of those who resigned peacefully like Leopold Senghor of Senegal, Mwalimu Nyerere and Mzee Mandela who represent African substance, humility, joy, wisdom.
A demo against Arms trade. Pic courtsey of Haki Ngowi Blog

During these past 500 years, history has seen our mysterious, rich continent being turned into a lucrative playing ground for foreign powers. Mandela’s South Africa was under whites for 400 years. Back then only ten percent of the population ruled 80% majority non whites. When Madiba left jail twenty years ago, we expected sweet revenge. It had happened in Mozambique in 1975, so why not? However, being the unique leader that he was and surrounded by spiritual geniuses like Bishop Desmond Tutu, he chose truth and reconciliation. Mandela aimed to heal rather than antagonise the four centuries scar.
South Africa’s post apartheid, says Wikipedia, “is popularly considered a model for Truth Commissions...”
Africans admire her economic prosperity. Two years ago, the South African government was working on an official policy to regularize the status of thousands of undocumented immigrants who seek its better life. For example, at the height of the Zimbabwe troubles in 2007, Consortium of Refugees in South Africa (CoRMSA) reported a backlog of 90,000 Zimbabweans awaiting registration.
Now, that is one of the biggest problems of neo colonial Africa.
Economic prosperity attracting refugees from unstable neighbouring countries.
So then what is neo colonialism?
Many thinkers including the late Ghanaian President, Kwame Nkrumah have defined it as being a state whereby colonial powers indirectly control affairs of their former colonies. Politically, neo colonialism is slightly easier to manage for rich nations than formal colonialism because pressure and blame are focused on local leadership. Although it is a subtle partnership, the foreign boss becomes invincible hence, safer. Check out how the continent has bled in past 50 years. Leaders are either killed (Congo’s Patrice Lumumba, 1961; Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso, 1987), toppled (Nkrumah of Ghana, 1966) and then assassinated (Marien Ngouabi, Congo Brazzaville, 1977), finally chaos. This is evident in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and presently, Somalia. Neo colonialism exploits the fact that poor countries are struggling economically with no adequate political programs (ideology).
Luckily for us in Tanzania we had Mwalimu Nyerere who had a vision and an ideology that brought us everlasting peace and national pride.
And it is in the year of Mwalimu’s death (1999) that the BAE System air radar fiasco materialised. It was, indeed that very atmosphere of deceit and quick money making that we had a character like Shaileth Vithlani in coalition with extremely powerful cabinet members that remain un-implicated, a typical neo colonial scenario.
When four MP’s visited London recently to discuss how the BAE systems money would be used the word neo colonialism was frequently uttered.

Tanzanian High Commissioner to the UK, Mr. Peter Kallaghe (second left) with the MP’s. From right,  Mr. John Cheyo ,Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Public accounts, Angela Kairuki, Vice chairperson for Justice and Admnistration, Mr Mussa Zungu, Vice Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Defense, Security and Foreign Affairs, Job Nungai, Deputy National Asembly Speaker, Grace Shangari Assistant Director of Europe and America  Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and first left, Assah Mwambene Press Officer Foreign Affairs.
 Pic by Jestina George

There has however been an intense sense of distrust for these MP’s regardless of whether their intention is noble or honest. Due to what has been going over the years it is very hard for the electorate to trust their actions.  Such is anger at CCM leadership that emails have been sent to BAE systems requesting the multi billion companies not to part with the £29 million supposed to be “for the people of Tanzania.”
When Hon Job Nungai Deputy Speaker of National Assembly assured reporters that the cash will definitely go to sort buildings, books and well being of Tanzanian students, it sounded like a genuinely, good plan.
“How can we trust you?”
Mr Nungai and his three colleagues insist their crusade is for the people. They face a difficult task of proving that Africa and in this case Tanzania has good leaders. If they succeed, we shall be reminded of that Malagasy proverb. The point is will BAE systems believe them? And even if they believed them why do we have to be in this sort of situation 50 years after Uhuru? Why do we “need to prove” to those who are better economically? What makes things so difficult?
A fifty year old person is considered matured and able. Why is the price of national identity still dependent on external elements? Can our MP’s re-assure wise leadership 50 years after independence? Let us give them a chance.   

Published in Citizen Tanzania

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