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Recourse to the principle of collective responsibility in govt

29th April 2012
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Ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi Central Committee members at a crucial meeting on Friday to advise President Jakaya Kikwete on various issues, including the way forward in bringing about changes in the cabinet.

The Central Committee (CC) of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi that met on Friday in Dar es Salaam under the chairmanship of President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete agreed that stern and disciplinary measures be taken against all ministers, their deputies and other government officials implicated in the Controller and Auditor General’s (CAG) reports.

At face value, this news sounds great. I wish to commend the rulling party for the comedic meeting and resolutions, for they together help in keeping the party to its current level of public trust. Fairly innovative, I think.

Similarly, the Central Committee endorsed the President’s intention to reshuffle the cabinet. Once again, that looks like being very democratic and participatory. All of this deserves compliments. But we should look at these recent events with very cautious minds and critical brains. We can not be taking every word from the horse’s mouth exactly as it comes out; hence the call for caution and suspicion!

Will disciplinary and legal measures really be taken against the ministers and deputies as well as their surbordinates? What has been past the experience in these or similar regard? Who has disciplined who in this country in the past? It is my humble submission that, based on historical experience, neither serious disciplinary nor legal measures are going to be taken against the leaders who have been implicated in the CAG’s reports.

Ideally, I would have believed that after the reports had been released, the next step would have been for the law enforcement organs to arrest all the culprits and file charges against them. The rest would come as part of the court process, not anything else.

But we know that the principle of equality before the law which is enshrined in the Constitution of Tanzania has not been up to standard. Some common and lower cadre citizens have been condemned harshly, including death through the death penalty or mob justice, when some of these high-ranking politicians and civil servants have ‘stolen’ public resources without stern measures going their way! It will be the beginning of a new era to have those implicated in CAG’s reports face any serious measures this time around.

But where is the police force to arrest? Where is the office of the DPP? Where is the office of the Director of Criminal Investigation? Where is the Directorate of Intelligence? Where is PCCB to investigate the whales involved in the grabbing of these public moneys?

Where is the Ethics Secretariat to establish these leaders’ base wealth and their property two years later? Where is the money theft surveillance? Where is all that authority that is established constitutionally and whose existence is paid for by public taxes?

Therefore, I do believe that there is even going to be serious implementation of the Central Committee’s resolutions afterall. Those were the past times of Julius Kambarage Nyerere and Edward Moringe Sokoine, whose action-oriented leadership truly scared anybody from stealing public funds or engaging in economic sabotage as many of our officers in government are now doing.

The question as to whether or not any measures will bring about any positive impact in improving financial discipline and accountability in the country will depend on the vibrancy of law-enforcement organs in combating public theft.

After all, any modern government must act on the basis of the principle of collective responsiblity. The misbehaviour of one minister, deputy or permanent secretary amounts to misbehaviour of the entire government. But do we feel this way today? Why shouldn’t we have gone ahead with the no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister to signal that the ‘entire government’ had been tainted.

Bravo to those members of Parliament whose bravery led them to sign the no-confidence petition. Despite the manouvres by House Speaker Anne Makinda, the message has been delivered to the PM and his entire government.

Paramount to all this is the supremacy of the people! How soon do we allow ourselves to forget that the power in the United Republic of Tanzania is vested in the people?

Do we know that Article 8 of the country’s constitution actually states that the government shall derive all power from the people? Do we remember the clause in our supreme law that promotes government accountability to the people?

Unless the entire government is made to account and fresh elections are called, piecemeal measures are highly unlikely to result in meaningful financial and public service discipline. Repeat: Highly unlikely.

Let us undertake civic education on how a government can be made to fully account for its actions or ommisions and this country will see less of this misbehaviour.

Deus Kibamba is a policy and political analyst based in Dar es Salaam. He has wide experience in promoting good governance and accountability across Eastern and Southern Africa. He can be reached by email: dkibamba@tcib.or.tz and telephone: +255 788 758 581.

SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY
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