A COUPLE of years ago, a young, foreign schoolgirl fascinated many people – via a video clip - by the speed and accuracy at which she mentioned the capital cities of all African countries.
Cynics may dismiss that as pointless, arguing that she had merely crammed the names, and that, therefore, she didn’t deserve any credit. Semantics aside, though, the girl’s response to what the capital city of Tanzania was, is, important.
She cited Dar es Salaam and Dodoma as a two-in-one answer. That set-up is most probably intriguing for many foreigners, who may be wondering why a country should have two capital cities.
Included in the group may be some who may merely shrug off the entire thing and say that it is none of their business but exclusively of Tanzanians themselves.
They certainly would have a point, against which backdrop we should ponder President John Magufuli’s dissolution of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) on Monday. Some compatriots may be as curious as some foreigners, over the rationale behind Tanzania having two geographical power centres.
They would similarly have a point, and a very big, may be, gigantic one.
For them, foreign and short-term visitors, plus longer-term residents on tourism, business, and other engagements, Dar es Salaam and Dodoma’s shared ‘capital city’ status is confusing, and even hilarious. Pinning the ‘political capital’ and ‘commercial capital’ on Dodoma and Dar es Salaam, respectively, hasn’t been very helpful.
For, the labels notwithstanding, Dar es Salaam is literally running the show either way, as it hosts the Executive and Judicial branches of the State.
But even on the legislative front, Dodoma does, for most part, spring into beehive-like life during parliamentary sessions, commemorative events like the latest Union Day on April 26, and high-level meetings of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi. What’s more,Dodoma – whose choice as the presumed future capital city was largely influenced by its geographical centrality is overwhelmingly overshadowed by Arusha and Mwanza cities.
Very little headway has been made to transform Dodoma as the country’s nucleus, largely because CDA’s performance over the past 44 years has been below par. For the sake of fairness, though, the successive management teams of the Authority haven’t been wholly to blame.
Some of its problems have stemmed, for instance, from structural arrangements that bred overlaps. Remedial measures have been set in motion, the most significant, so far, being transferring hitherto CDA activities to the Dodoma Municipal Council.
We earnestly hope that, it will discharge its responsibilities to the best of its abilities, and avoid the all-too-familiar pattern of slipping into lethargy after a few months or years of enthusiasm. Tanzanians are anxious that the long-elusive Dodoma dream comes true-- and fast !
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