Makonda’s Crusade Against Public Service Woes Faces Reality Check! Reforms Hits Roadblocks

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The ruling party’s Ideology and Publicity Secretary, Paul Makonda, has hit the ground running, aiming to restore CCM’s dwindling political fortunes. It is a one-person show against an entrenched organization whose sole purpose is to hold onto power regardless of the shifted political terrain.

If history is anything to go by, Makonda is done from the start, as similar past experiences have indicated that unless one fixes institutional rot, individual perspiration to alleviate national problems is going nowhere. From the days of Augustine Lyatonga Mrema to the days of Reverend Mtikila, we have witnessed how good intentions were scuttled because the Crusaders failed to grasp that unless one resolves institutional and legal bottlenecks, individual assaults to reset the button are nonstarters.

Gatchup more with The Return of CDE Paul Makonda: A Litmus Test for CCM, Should We Expect a Major Impact on the 2025 Election?

Lyatonga Mrema played his role as minister of internal affairs to rein in societal vices. For his troubles, he was promoted to the constitutional alien post of deputy premier with vague or arcane responsibilities. Emboldened by his newfound powers, Mrema attempted to accost grand official graft in the name of Chavda. This allegation has to do with ship malfeasance or something similar. Before he knew it, Mrema was relieved of his portfolios, and out of anger, he shifted his political loyalty to the opposition, where he gunned down the presidency without anything to show off.

In 1995, he became the man of the hour, and wherever he went, crowds followed him, paying attention to whatever utterances came out of his mouth. Mrema declared his presidential ambitions, and the nation was caught napping. CCM picked apart his presidential bid by capitalizing on a mysterious woman who claimed Mrema had sired his child and was a deadbeat dad.

Mrema spent most of his campaign hours defending himself against this wild allegation, and at times, he went under the belt punching ad hominem against this unfortunate woman. After the elections, this woman disappeared from the political scene, and nobody bothered to verify the authenticity of her claims. Everybody dismissed them as the CCM political gambit to derail Mrema’s illustrious public service career and sabotage his state house bid.

After the elections, Mrema claimed CCM had stolen his win but cited no evidence to back up his allegations, albeit the election itself was unverifiable. So, it was impossible even to tally the constituency polling station votes because such a record was non-existent. And, lacking experience in multiparty elections did not do Mrema any good. He did not have a national tallying centre to track down every vote cast, rendering his complaint more or less based upon intuition or a hunch for mischief on the part of CCM.

After Mrema’s debacle, this nation we call home had an opportunity to welcome another political giant called Reverend Christopher Mtikila. Mtikila formed his political party, ran on the platform of indigenization of the economy, and blamed Indian Tanzanians for all the economic problems the nation was going through.

He became our favourite punster coining words such “gabacholi“, “walalahoi” and similar vocabularies. Gabacholi was to name and shame Indian Tanzanians whom he took swipes at for stealing and looting public resources. In many ways, Mtikila was taking over from where Mrema had left. Mrema had a giant axe to grind against an Indian called Chavda, so the terminology gabacholi resonated with the general public.

The flip side of both Mrema and Reverend Mtikila was that they lacked organizational skills. Both were top-notch public speakers, but they had little or nothing to contribute away from the mic. One writer remarked at one time, lamenting that Mtikila, without a microphone, was a deadbeat politician. Devoid of organizational skills while flaunting charisma was insufficient to achieve their political objectives. Over time, the allure of both of them waned as neither did well in subsequent presidential elections.

Of telling significance was the former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, who decamped CCM to the leading opposition party, Chadema. Lowassa won more votes than any opposition presidential candidate in the 2015 presidential election. Still, like all of the past presidential pretenders, he ran out of steam because the institutional decay screeched him to a halt. He had no stamina to continue but to renew his vows with CCM.

Read related: Lowassa’s Comebacks Were Derailed, But At Least Jakaya Kikwete Kept His Promise.

Makonda is walking the same treacherous path, albeit with many differences. While his predecessors were pioneers of change agents like himself, there were fundamental departures. Makonda is tasking himself to reset CCM’s conversation with the electorate, while his change peers aim to remove CCM from power because they have lost faith in her ability to reform. Both were reformers, but unlike those who came before him, Makonda still believes CCM can reform. It is a leap of faith not informed by the harsh realities on the ground.

The system that Makonda trusts is broken, no longer serving the weak but the mighty of the society. Everything is done to promote the parochial interests of the rulers at the expense of the ruled, and there is nothing Makonda can do to usurp this harsh reality. CCM ceased being a mass political party long ago but is now a vanguard political party with a selfish interest.

This interest-motivated political party commonly shared the goal of looting public coffers and resources papers over cracks among many of her affiliates. The rank and file endured so long as they did not rock the Titanic ship without maintaining the status quo’s avarice for self-enrichment, but nothing else.

Makonda may throw a bucket in the ocean like dipping into his pockets to quell a complaint. Still, that effort of altruistic gesture may appeal to many but does not even scratch the societal injustices that have even reached the heavens. As Makonda keeps on pricking the conscience of the who and who in the society, he is beginning to threaten entrenched interests, and those forces are, albeit meekly, fighting back with a gusto.

The Attorney General of Tanzania (AG) has come out firing all four cylinders, pouring cold water on what Makonda and evangelical churches are doing to poke at gross injustices and has recommended crafting another layer of bureaucracy in the form of counselling to victims of institutional injustices. We say the AG is out of order.

Just take a specific case of a widow whose husband passed away, and his concubine forged a will for her former lover and now claims he left everything to her, including a marital home the widow aided in building forty years ago. The concubine buys the judicial system that declares the widow homeless despite all the toil she has invested in her homestead. The courts refused to hear or consider even if the deceased had died testate, and he had no powers to dispose of marital properties as he did!

The AG recommendation will add another layer of bureaucracy without solving intricate problems behind the institutional lack of accountability that stokes, condones and encourages injustices inflicted upon the shoulders of the weak members of society. What is glaring before the eye is aloofness and insensitivity to the plight of people experiencing poverty. Will the AG shadow offices overturn the court decisions obtained through official bribes? The answer to that must be in very specific terms in the negativity.

Makonda may be motivated by self-political ambitions as he eyes the 2030 presidential elections, but he has succeeded in reigniting the debate about whether the weak members of the society have been left out and have nobody who stands up for them. Everyday we hear so and so has received presidential appointments. Still, we ask ourselves what is the criterion behind those appointments seeing the appointees seldom seem to stamp their authority and own up to their dockets.

The rise of Makonda is another damning reminder we need to fix our institutions so that they may be accountable and sensitive to the plight of the hoi polloi. However, efforts to nip-tuck our institutions have been frustrated by those who benefit from the laissez-faire we all witness today. One keeps wondering why presidential appointees are missing in action?

Why do they take rides in fancy cars, pick substantial monthly paychecks but renege from regular meetings with the indigent, and solve their endemic problems? Presidential appointees are all over the place when it comes to ridiculing those whose homes and properties are washed away by floods or whose land is to be handed over to an alien investor for a song. They never stand up for their people but take delight in condemning them into the abyss of hopelessness and untold poverty.

Everyone needs to ask herself how many of the presidential appointees will keep their jobs if today we decide to let the voters have the final say. We can bet our lost coin that all of the presidential appointees will pack their bags and quietly go home on the day we end the debacle of presidential appointees in the local governance.

Therefore, the Makonda crusade is another false start that aims to delude us into thinking that our institutions are flawless, but the problem is those who have been entrusted to run them. We say the problem begins and ends with having incompetent minds managing our lot. Until werecognizee that wrong drivers are behind our wheel, we stand no chance of changing the direction we have been stuck in for a long time.

Don’t miss out Rutashubanyuma’s latest opinion article here.

The author is a Development Administration specialist in Tanzania with over 30 years of practical experience, and has been penning down a number of articles in local printing and digital newspapers for some time now.

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