No more institutions, it’s about the Big Man!
Today is Nyerere Day, two weeks before general elections, 59 years after independence. I found a video on the juliusnyerere.org website that contained an interview with Nyerere by a British channel. In this interview as a young president who had just made Tanzania a Republic, Mwalimu was discussing the importance of building institutions versus the existing system that served the Big Man — namely the chief in pre-colonial and the governor in colonial times.
#DearNyerere, here we are 59 years after independence and what do we have? We have a President and a government that is dismantling the hard fought existing (even if not perfect) institutions that were built over decades. In five years of the Magufuli regime, we have gone back 5 decades in terms of institutional capacity and integrity. Now laws are passed in a rush and for what — to undermine the constitution and centralize power to create an omnipotent President and serve his and his minions’ whims.
#DearNyerere it took you decades to realize the mistake you made in creating a one-party system and you became a proponent of multi-party politics. You insisted that even if only 20% of the then polled Tanzanians wanted a multi-party system but with time they will turn 30, 40, 50 and eventually they will be the majority and demand it by force. You explained this, but guess what? Today we have a President whose dream is a Tanzania where all opposition parties cease to exist. He calls all citizens who support/vote for or are members of the opposition “stepchildren” and threatens not to give them roads and water unless they vote for CCM.
#DearNyerere if you would be here and take a quick look at the state of media, the judiciary, parliament, tax authority, communication authority, public prosecution office and so many other agencies, departments, ministries — what you would find are scared bureaucrats, opportunists parading as patriots wielding shiny new weapons in the form of unconstitutional laws against the citizens while declaring their loyalty to the President.
#DearNyerere if you were around today you would call a press conference, as you did in 1995 at the Kilimanjaro hotel, and you would remind the current Strong Man, his gang and the entire Nation about the importance of building and strengthening institutions, telling them that there is a reason for their existence. And that even if the average mwananchi doesn’t understand the nitty gritty of government, everyone understands when it is not delivering or serving them. That when it fails to deliver, it tries to mislead and hide its incompetence, it blames imaginary enemies and tries to suppress criticism with every tool at its disposal. You would tell the Strong Man and his minions not to act surprised when the people reject them, openly. Not that they would understand. You were building a nation. They are feeding their egos and lining their pockets.
#DearNyerere to conclude I want you to know that despite it all, we will be fine because we — your children and grandchildren are telling them. We know that the best way to honor you is to stand up to tyranny.
#DearNyerere we will make you proud!