Why our opposition MPs are so literate, numerate, well-spoken and generally sharp

Wednesday November 8 2017

Supporters of the opposition Chadema party in

Supporters of the opposition Chadema party in Dar es Salaam. As small in quantity as they may be in Tanzania parliament, opposition MPs make a massive difference. PHOTO | FILE | NATION 

By ELSIE EYAKUZE
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Chocolate, single scoop in a cup, from that one place in town, you know where I mean. Oh, and a sandal-maker in Stone Town whose shoes are basically the only footwear one needs in a humid tropical life.

These are things that anyone could understand developing a life-long attachment to. Quality products, right? Political parties, though. They are proving to be a challenge.

Democratic despair is a chronic condition that can be found in many a country in the 21st century. But, no! As a new generation of voters comes into play, I want to welcome them by saying: These things matter. They do – seriously.

Because it is always fun to swim upstream, this year by way of putting your mouth where your foot is, I thought I would try and find a party or parties to believe in as an exercise in anti-cynicism. Having spent so many years and expended so much hot air defending the ideals of electoral representative democracy, it was time.

Just to be clear: Believing in a party isn’t the same thing as joining one, right? This isn’t religion after all, it’s just politics. As it turns out in my local arena there is no shortage of organisations to repose a little faith in. The superbly dependable Grand Old Party has always been there, and always well be, rocking its Jah Rastafari collars and being comfortably staid and predictable.

Big Opposition in the form of Chadema is also credible in that whatever the ruling party has to say, it will offer the opposite. One would think such a situation would be chaotic but on the whole they balance each other out for the benefit of the nation.

CCM’s open-door policy has the unfortunate effect of filling the legislature with people who are not always qualified to make laws. Some are capable, and I like them, especially the young bucks who can ken issues that affect our immediate future like technology, agriculture and the importance of contemporary education policies.

But we also see the doddering folk, the far too many who clearly have no clue what they are voting for or against on any given day.

Contrast this with any opposition Member of Parliament; since it is a jungle out there and they are outnumbered, it takes a certain fitness to survive. They are dependably literate, numerate, often most wonderfully well-spoken and sharp. As small in quantity as they may be in our parliament, they make a massive difference.

Finally there are those crusty little parties that I am horribly fond of for ideological reasons and also sentimental ones. People who do politics because they are in love with their country. Sigh. With that in mind, you can imagine that it has been a very stressful year watching people cross party lines all the time. Why would they do it?

We’ve all heard the arguments: Money, moral ineptitude, the temptations of power, blah, blah. While completely valid, I don’t know that we have exhausted the possibilities here of why people engage in politics. Sometimes it is about a little bit more than crassness. Not often, but sometimes.

But this past week we saw a rather unusual movement: A CCM cadre shifted himself from a ruling party position to a willingness to court the opposition. I know, right?!

Chocolate, single scoop in a cup, from that one place. Oh, and a sandal-maker in Stone Town whose shoes are basically the only footwear one needs in a humid tropical life. These are things that anyone could understand developing a life-long attachment to. Quality products, right? Political parties, though. They are proving to be a challenge.

Elsie Eyakuze is an independent consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report. E-mail: [email protected]