Shein is right; public service isn’t optional, it’s duty for us all


LAST week, Isles President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein hit out at cabinet ministers who were apparently shunning away from his tours across Zanzibar in a bid to meet the people and assess their development projects.

And, this was in line with the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) Manifesto (2015-2020). In his trademark calm yet stern approach, the Isles president expressed his dismay at the apparent ‘no-show’ of some of his ministers during the tour and ordered the few who were on hand to convey his message to their absentee colleagues.

Like Dr Shein, we also wonder – and share in his dismay -- that a section of his cabinet would dare fail to accompany him so that they would be on hand to answer queries from wananchi during that countrywide tour. This was a key moment for the people, and an opportune hour for the ministers to express their loyalty to the people who put them in power in the first place.

In the present dispensation, leaders not just in Zanzibar but also across the United Republic are no longer sultans or ‘katikiros’ who once behaved as if they were above the people. We stress here that public service isn’t an option; it’s a duty binding everyone in a position of leadership to serving the people humbly.

We also stress that humble service is the trademark of all strong; haughty ones are almost always very weak and insecure leaders. We’ve seen it all in history: Strong leaders are humble people, and the opposite applies to weak ones.

It’s in this vein that we believe our Isles brothers and sisters should take the president’s overtures with the seriousness they deserve. “I, the President, am right here on the field … but surprisingly some ministers, without any other particular assignments or official notice, decide to stay in the office,” the president said, in part.

He stressed that his ministers should do better than hitherto – and ensure the successful implementation of the ruling party’s manifesto and other pledges made during the 2015 general election.

Visibly fed up with persistent no-show by his aides amid people’s outcry over lack of some very basic services, it was quite clear that the absentee ministers had pushed their boss to the brink; but being the gentleman that he is, he stopped at reminding them to “sit less on their chairs and give more attention to practical work instead.

Though mildly put, this was a serious rebuke against abuse of public office; for that’s it amounts to when public officers decide to shuffle papers instead of attending to people’s real needs. We’re all thus warned.

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