All too often have I asked myself how a person credited with sound mind can speak from both corners of his mouth and still retain sanity.
That is, how is it possible for such a person to declare to the public that his favourite meal is fish in coconut sauce one day and the next day aver that such a bland meal has never touched his palate, and if his wife ever cooked it for him it would be ground enough for divorce?
Alas, many a Tanzanian (read African) politician does not see the importance of establishing a correlation between what they say and what they do. They are perfectly comfortable saying one thing and doing quite another, over and over again, within a single lifetime.
This brazen shamelessness manifests itself with acuity every time the top political employer expresses his opinion on something that he may be totally wrong about.
We have witnessed, in the past couple of years or so, people making statements that are so outrageous that they make you think they must be drunk on something strong.
Take the case of a (retired) law professor who was thanking his new boss for having picked him from the rubbish dump and elevated him to the “rank” of minister.
Many of us were scandalised by that statement because we felt, and still feel, it demeaned the institution in which the unfortunate don had worked, apart, of course, from casting some doubt as to the mental health of the professor himself.
Now, we have been treated to the spectacle of the same don lecturing Kenyans on the ideals of brotherhood (and sisterhood), non-ethnicisation of politics and democratic and inclusive governance, principles long forgotten by his own government.
At a more local level, we have heard district and regional commissioners (a quintessentially colonial relic) declare that they will not co-operate with politicians from the opposition parties, even when those politicians were elected by their people in keeping with the constitution of the land.
It makes you wonder what such local commissioners want to achieve, or what they indeed achieve when they say these inane things.
Do they get messages of congratulations from their boss, telling them they have spoken on his behalf, or do they get the moronic, sadistic satisfaction of the village imbecile who goes around kicking cats and hens with an idiotic grin on his face?
I am tempted to believe that either these people are sick, or they just do not understand what they were sent out to do. When they are appointed they are made to swear that they will uphold and protect the constitution, and it is that very document that sanctions the operations of the opposition, just as it sets out the duties and responsibilities of these local chiefs.
So, it was really heartening to hear the secretary-general of the ruling CCM party, Dr Bashiru Ally, calling out these local bullies by telling them to respect those they are called upon to work with, whether they are from the ruling party or from the opposition.
Dr Ally, who has been taking up—at least in his speeches—responsibilities that make him sound like he is part of the state machinery rather that the executive head party, even threatened them with expulsion if they continued with such behaviour.
This comes across as a breath of fresh air, especially in our political constipation where political parties have been emasculated and can hardly carry out their most basic activities, such as holding rallies or staging demonstrations.
As we head for general elections at the end of the year, one is to hope that the talk by Dr Ally will be accompanied by a walk in that direction, and that the secretary-general of the ruling behemoth will see to it that his cadres at all levels of the country suffer the will of the people to prevail during the elections.
I am hardly foolish enough to suppose this will be an easy task for Dr Ally to pull off, seeing as he is saddled with bullies strewn across the country who will stop at nothing to ensure ‘victory’, won or stolen.
If he keeps quiet then, we will know that his talk was just talk.
As they say, the proof of this pudding will have to wait until it is eaten, in the upcoming elections.
Jenerali Ulimwengu is chairman of the board of the Raia Mwema newspaper and an advocate of the High Court in Dar es Salaam. E-mail: [email protected]