Will new Speaker be a servant of the people? A revolutionary?
Wednesday January 26 2022
After Job Ndugai gracefully stepped down from his role as Speaker of Tanzania’s parliament, it was just a matter of time to see who would step up to the chair. Before we get into it, I want to drop some thoughts about authority versus power.
Max Weber, a German social thinker and cornerstone of sociology, political science and political economy among other disciplines, examined the issue of power. In fact, he came up with several definitions of power, my favourite of which is “authority.”
Weber’s take on authority has been summarised by Lumen, a sociology website: “Authority refers to accepted power — that is power that people agree to follow. People listen to authority figures because they feel that these individuals are worthy of respect. Generally speaking, people perceive the objectives and demands of an authority figure as reasonable and beneficial, or true.”
Now, we are all grown here, and most of us are African. What Weber is saying is true because we are collectivist societies and we are people and we are naturally smart. As we remind each other in Tanzania: “vitu vingine havitaki nguvu,” meaning that if you need to force yourself upon the collective, something is wrong with you.
We are looking for a new Speaker from among our MPs. Me, I am a young one. When I came of age politically, Pius Msekwa was the Speaker.
It was during Benjamin Mkapa’s time, and we the people were deemed unworthy of knowing or participating in the business of our own legislature. When Msekwa retired, Samuel Sitta came along with his intention for “speed and standards” and he tried.
Partnered by an Executive that was somewhat woke and eventually an alright Chief Justice, Tanzania enjoyed a couple years of fulfilling some of her potential. I spent a lot of time watching Bunge Live, without censorship or editing. Watched a lot of political commentary too — by comedians too. Life was tight, life was good.
Then 2015 happened.
Anyway, here we are today: I understand that more than 70 candidates in CCM alone put themselves forward to become Speaker of the House. And I want to talk about that.
Independent Tanzania has never had a Speaker who did not come from the ruling party for a reason.
Even though we became a multiparty country yonks ago, and at one point we even saw the wisdom of having a good amount of representatives who were NOT from the Green and Gold, nothing came of it.
The quality of our Speakers slides downwards until we have to watch what happened with Job Ndugai — an untoward situation — and be alright with that.
Meanwhile, 70 candidates lined up to ignore the will of the people who elected them so that they can get driven around in vieitez and tell us that “hivi ni vijisenti tu” when we struggle to pay for electricity and pretend that it is okay that we lost an international case against a company that sucked the life out of our budget.
And then “we” wonder why crime and arson are on the rise so that we can blame people who are clearly struggling at the very bottom of the economic pile? Aisee, hapana.
Every day I listen to the news and watch what people say. But what do they say, uh?
They say: where are the servants of the Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania?
Where are the women and men who know that to listen is the privilege and the duty of a true leader, a person who has earned our respect without trying to pay for it?
Where are the ones who quietly visit widows, who listen to teachers and accept policies that will help them and the children we they help us to raise?
Where are the ones who have to replace the soles of their shoes because they walk the land and know where the clean water is?
Where are the wise, the true, the humble and the strong? Where are the ones we want to speak for us?
Where is the authority as opposed to the power?
Me, I am young. I came of age politically at a time when communications technology had advanced to the point where it does not allow for the great and the powerful to conduct all of their business away from the public gaze.
This has resulted in my generation and the ones coming up behind us to find it natural to question and examine leaders. We have opinions on everything and everyone, and we do not obey blindly. We are woke. And we are the majority.
I don’t hold out much hope that the coming Speaker of the House will be a revolutionary who believes that their raison d’etre is to serve Tanzanians, and if 70 out of a couple of hundred MPs all think they are worthy, this is chaos.
But it will be entertaining, if nothing else, and since we live in hope, surely it can’t be as bad as it was before, right?
Let the games begin.
Elsie Eyakuze is a consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report: E-mail: [email protected]