“WHEN you look at those cars over there, Wilson, what crosses your mind?” It was essentially a simple question posed by a colleague on the staff of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), shortly after I had been posted at its Dodoma headquarters in the early 90s.
Noting that the question seemed to me to be a complex quiz, he smiled mockingly. Not wanting to seem utterly dumb, I manufactured an answer which I ruled that, even if it turned out to be idiotic, it would be preferable to a “zero answer.”
I replied along these lines, fully conscious, however, that it wasn’t right, but angled it humourously in order to tone down failure of the test. “What crosses my mind is that those are not cars but former mobile machines that had died and were now buried in a graveyard.”
Chuckling, he praised me for being humourous, then made a revelation that almost made me feel as though I had been shaken up by a mild tremor.
“Those are not bodies of dead cars; they are very much on the road,” he explained. “Who is fooling who?” I asked inertly and proceeded to furnish an answer to myself: “Here’s glaring evidence that what were originally cars are resting peacefully on what the expression ‘juu ya mawe’ is apt.
They are truly out of service.
“They are shells that can’t be revived and actually belong to a dump yard from which enterprising people can cart them and whose metallic parts they can sell as scrap metal.”
The colleague explained that the ‘cars’ were on the official list of the CCM fleet, and in respect of which the party covered costs related to fuel and maintenance!
The cars were a handful; meaning that, the cumulative (invisible) costs covering all of the party’s ‘non-vehicle vehicles’ countrywide were colossal.
It was apparent that thieving officials, ranging from small-timers who nibbled at the coffers rat-like, to big timers who munched huge chunks, benefitted immensely from the dirty game.
Whistle-blowing, as an essentially honourable pursuit, wasn’t a popular phenomenon and, at any rate, those who would dare try to bell the cats would face the music.
For that was the era when crooks twisted the “Chama kushika hatamu” (party supremacy) principle to “kushika utamu” (for the relatively few crooked operatives within its ranks to enjoy the goodies).
Had the multi-party political era not dawned in July 1992, the trend would have persisted to-date, and most certainly sunk the nation into an abyss of economic and social doom.
For the thieving and other misdeeds, such as middle and heavy weights throwing their weight around to sneak undeserving and unethical relatives into jobs, as well as venturing into businesses, had indirectly been bankrolled by annual subventions from the Treasury.
Had financial discipline as well as management of resources been applied scrupulously, things would have been okay.
Come stoppage of subventions to CCM as the sole political party, it had to figure out how best to make do with a State funding arrangement that covers other registered political parties.
But it could have taken advantage of being the longest ruling and therefore most experienced to stay comfortably ahead of the fresh entrants into the game.
What’s more, by having a bigger share of the cake by virtue of having a commanding majority in Parliament, it essentially has an automatic head start ahead of its competitors.
Unfortunately, the show has been considerably spoiled by negative Chama tawala (ruling party) notions, which its current National Chairman, President John Magufuli, is steadfast on freezing.
He, other sober-minded leaders and members are conscious that, if sustained, the ‘taking things for granted’ approach would spell its doom. That’s the backdrop against which recent revelations by a team tasked to verify CCM’s assets should be viewed.
They were pretty shocking, including the bit about some of the party’s assets being untraceable! During and beyond the 2015 General Election campaign season, and a little over half-way his first five-year tenure, Dr Magufuli leans more on patriotism and nationhood than ‘CCM-ism’.
He stresses that he is essentially a servant of all Tanzanians, party affiliations being no big deal. As the ruling party, CCM is enjoined to lead by example.
The recent house-cleaning mission, highlights of which include the appointment of Dr Bashiru Ally as secretary general, fits that bill. It is praiseworthy, and an eye opener for the others, more so those given to holier-than-thou bravado!
A Very touching boda boda SMS
A motorbike taxi (boda boda) operator says he was deeply touched by a phone text message from a familiar customer who expressed alarm over how recklessly he had seen him in motion along a certain road in Dar.
He said besides embarrassment, it was also a lesson; That observance of road safety should be all-time; Not exclusive to when he was serving familiar customers!