THEY say, old is gold and indeed this is what happened last week when President John Magufuli played host to the former retired security chiefs who had served this country diligently.
In a very rare occasion, the former heads of Peoples’ Defence Forces (TPDF), the Police Force, Prisons Service, Immigration Service, Fire Services and Tanzania Intelligence and Security Services (TISS) with their current heads of those institutions met the President at the State House.
Those whom I know and could not attend for one reason or another includes General David Musuguri and George Waitara former Chiefs of TPDF, Philemon Mgaya of Police Force , Hassy Kitine of TISS, Jumanne Mangara and Raphael Kubaga of Prisons and Immigration Services respectively.
These chiefs are retired but do not seem to be tired as I could see from the look of General Sarakikya as if he was ready to scale again Mount Kilimanjaro his favourite hobby; so as Inspector-General Mahita, he still appears to be “ngunguri,” the a.k.a he won on his agility of doing things as the then InspectorGeneral of Police.
Why did the President call them at the State House with the usual honourable VIP treatment? The most obvious reason could be to have a forum in exchanging of ideas with the old guards who were at one time given the onus of safeguarding this nation.
And surely the President confirmed this by instructing those State House Officials to create in future a forum for these retired officers to meet him for such a discourse. I hope the retirees will not have that selective nostalgia syndrome of “what we did in the past was better than what is being done today.”
I, being also a retiree used to think that way. But that is not true as said, it is a selective nostalgia, why not mention the other good side too? After all, technology has made things easier and better, how would you compare that with manual operations we used to claim to be gurus in those conservative methods.
Accounting systems have been made easier and effective against the manual systems commonly leading to fraudulent accounting system and loss of government revenue. In terms of professionalism in dealing with offenders how effective and efficient would Police and Prisons deal with the profiles of hundreds of offenders manually?
So as in prisons, guarding duties in the nights used to depend on the Blick Clock but now this should be done by CCTV (Close Circuit Television)! Things are relatively better now as we could hear from the very mouths of those Security Chiefs that discipline of workers has been restored and workers are made to be conscious on their responsibilities, hence the slogan “Hapa kazi tuu” is relevant.
However it is undeniable that these were very senior officials and now have become senior citizens still deserving that respect. Apart from the handsome package of pension they are enjoying yet through their wisdom they need to be the buffer zone of social cohesion in the building of this nation.
It is not a matter of dangling meritorious medals like Emperor Bokassa or Idi Amin Dada -an indication of penchant impulsiveness in killings; not at all with our Security Chiefs. In the first place these are highly disciplined people and would not go to the press or social media to air out their grievances or any bad mouthing of the government in public.
They need a special audience in all serious issues to be heard, and should not be considered as spent force. You could see and hear for those who were given opportunity to air their views on the press on how the government of the day is doing! They were highly positive with careful statement mindful of that arm that feeds them.
But given such an opportunity with the President they could give genuine advice out of their experiences. I remember on that issue of the proposed new constitution in the recent past, there were several groups which were handpicked for consultation as stakeholders.
I would have thought this one of the retired Security Chiefs could be very relevant stakeholder group as to garner their experiences on issues of criminal justice system as others are renowned lawyers with experience of dealing with inmates including condemned prisoners.
They could give their inputs on issues such as capital punishment and several others. These people have worked with all phases of our governments; need not to overemphasize the richness of their experiences in dealing with several issues at different stages of the development of our country.
Following the 1964 mutiny of the former Tanganyika Rifles the forerunner of the TPDF, these Services were forced not to belong to the Trade Unions and that they had a special channel of addressing their regimental problems and had compensatory measures that would fill in that vacuum of not being unionised.
Even retirement benefits took care of the rigorous nature of their work and should be more or less the same to all Services. But this does not seem to be the same particularly the Pension Act does not seem to have taken care the aftermath of that mutiny 1964.
Some of the retired heads of these Services do not enjoy the pack which their colleagues, the recent ones are happy with. Such issues could give a healthy discussion and iron out these disparities amongst the top notches retirement benefits with those who retired way back from 1996 and below.
But above all the passing on the baton to the incoming Security chief is very important and particularly the legacy left behind is the more important than anything. There must be continuity to enhance harmony and teamwork.
President Kikwete was very right when he urged the Prisons Service when the former Commissioner-General of Prisons Service Augustine Nanyaro was retiring that they should think of writing their memoirs for others to read!