Stop groping in the dark with JPM fetters, we want change

Wednesday April 21 2021
Samia Suluhu.

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan at State House in Dar es Salaam on March 19, 2021. PHOTO | AFP


Aficionados of old soul music may remember the blockbuster made popular back in the day by such heavenly crooners as the legendary Sam Cooke, which proclaimed to a weary world, ‘‘A change is gonna come’’.

Still, others may recall that somewhere another songbird warned us, ‘‘Aint nothing gonna change’’.

Maybe not, but this is the score. Tanzania’s former president, John Pombe Magufuli (JPM), who was laid to rest last month, was an extremely divisive figure who managed to put Tanzanian against Tanzanian more acutely than any other leader since I was a child, and that is long ago, believe me.

Everything he did, and there was a lot of it, sparked controversy, whether it was his so-called mega-projects or his sometimes disturbing pronouncements.

His declarations and actions became easily disconcerting because he did not seem to have a thought process that had led to what he uttered or did. He seemed to think on the hoof and to say and do whatever came to him while on his hectic errands.

Hence, it cannot be surprising in the least if people used to proper processes questioned his procurement processes that had no parliamentary oversight, his controversial appointments of people with no qualifications to hold public office or the termination of another official whose tenure he was not permitted by the laws of the land to end.


Now that Magufuli is gone and his office taken by Samia Suluhu, it is facile to see why some people thought that ‘‘a change was gonna come’’, nay, that it had arrived already.

In the structures of the ruling CCM, the old power jockeys came to the fore in a frenzy, many of them mouthing things they had not dared even to contemplate when Pombe was alive. They now saw more clearly, and now did everything to curry favour with the new lady-boss.

Some of them were seen as obscene turncoats who did not even wait for the flowers on Pombe’s grave to wilt before they abandoned their unthinking adulation of the man.

You understand the adage that hypocrisy is the compliment vice pays to virtue, right? Even so, these particular hypocrites were giving hypocrisy a worse name than it deserves.

Just like it is among thieves, there must be honour among hypocrites.

If the man you have been praising to the skies in thoughtless admiration suddenly proves to you he is only mortal contrary to what you wanted us to believe, then take your time, affect reflection and turn slowly away from your hero’s inanities. Don’t do a pirouette.

But a pirouette is what some of them are doing now, even if sometimes their words get stuck in their throats and they seem to want to speak from both sides of their mouths. Articulation is hard for hypocrites, and that is why they rarely can state intelligibly what they stand for.

For instance, I was watching the young man who five years ago publicly declared that he had played a major role to help CCM and Magufuli score a ‘handball’ victory. This meant they had stolen the election against the opposition in 2015.

The young man has not yet said if the same Maradona trick ‘won’ again last October, but that may be because the stakes were too high in that particular non-election to allow amateur apprentice sorcerers to monkey about weighty matters. Last October the security boys did the job instead of the Maradona boy scouts.

They thus fail to meet what I am tempted to call the ‘Assad standard’, set by the professor of the same name who has been at pain to pry our eyes open, with little success, because the ruling party’s channels of communication are too clogged with dead-weight brains left behind by Magufuli.

Indeed, with the passage of time, we will get to have a more enlightened peek at the wrongs that the opacity of the last five years has spawned as we discover the true meaning of the Kiswahili adage, ‘‘Wajinga ndio waliwao,’’ which I cannot find an English equivalent for.

I will let it go without translation, but let me end this piece with something that needs no translation. The new president at the helm must know what her predecessor died from. She is privy to medico-intelligence reports that we cannot access, however hard we try.

I am not asking her to divulge to us what she may know beyond what she announced to the nation, to wit, that her predecessor died of heart failure, which will do for me, seeing there is no fetish attaching to whatever if you see what I mean.

Still, one thing I can ask of President Samia: Tell your people Covid-19 kills, and we are not out of the woods yet, and the third wave could be more deadly than what the second wave showed us it could do. Protect yourself and us, follow the Assad standard, period.

Jenerali Ulimwengu is now on YouTube via jeneralionline tv. E-mail: [email protected]