YESTERDAY, 14th October, 2020, was our annual “remembrance day” for the late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, namely the anniversary date of his death on 14th October, 1999, twenty- one long years ago.
During the whole period of the ‘run-up’ to this year’s 2020 general election later this October, this column has been presenting a series of articles reflecting on the various aspects of the general subject of elections; and, for that reason of being deeply involved in the election business ; we had yesterday to commemorate that sad event of commemorating Mwalimu Nyerere’s death against the backdrop of the continuing ‘hot’ election campaigns, which are currently taking place throughout the country.
However, general election notwithstanding, we must continue with this column’s little ‘tradition’ of paying due homage to our departed father of the nation during every October month, by way of making a short presentation on some significant matter relating to the late Nyerere’s contributions; being part of our ‘remembrance service’ to the departed Father of our nation.
Thus, apart from today’s chosen election topic; we will also include a small piece on one significant ‘current affairs’ matter relating to the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere; namely, the on-going Christian process for his canonization.
This is a matter that is probably little known, or understood, by many people outside the Christian faithful, but which, nevertheless, is of great significance in enhancing, and enriching, the late Mwalimu Nyerere’s local and international standing and respect; particularly among the vast local and international Christian community.
The canonization process For the benefit of those of our readers who may not be fully conversant with this purely Christian matter, I should explain that “canonization” is the name given to that lengthy process, which is normally undertaken by the catholic church, which eventually terminates in that person’s recognition as a “SAINT”, i.e. a person who lived a holy life.
The said process involves the appearance of a given number of confirmed “miracles”; and the stage of “sainthood” is reached only after a lengthy period of intense supplication and prayer by many individual persons who desire to be granted God’s mercy and divine relief from specified ailments, or other human problems.
When such prayers are eventually answered in the affirmative, such answers are what are described as “miracles”, that is to say, acts, or events, that do not follow the laws of nature, and are therefore believed to be caused by God alone. Mwalimu Nyerere’s canonization process was officially inaugurated in 2006, when the Catholic Bishops of Tanzania (with approval from the Vatican), officially opened what is known as “the Cause for his Beatification”; and that is when Mwalimu Nyerere officially became a “candidate” for the sainthood.
All the Catholic faithful in Tanzania, and other wellwishers in that regard, are now being urged to actively participate in this divine process, and to constantly pray for success in achieving the desired objective.
I personally have been participating in this process by sponsoring annual ‘pilgrimages’ consisting of two or three select groups of not less than fifty pilgrims each; and sending them to Mwalimu Nyerere’s burial place in Butiama on the 14th day of every October month, for the purpose of enabling the said pilgrims to meditate, and to offer their individual and collective prayers and requests (through this ‘candidate for sainthood’, Mwalimu Nyerere); for God’s divine relief from their respective ailments, or other human problems, that may be troubling them.
The pilgrims are encouraged thereafter, to report on any positive reliefs that may be received in answer to their prayers; in order to accumulate the evidence that will satisfy the necessary “miracles” requirement to qualify Nyerere for sainthood.
And for this year, my pilgrimage groups to Butiama (totaling 150 pilgrims, who had been invited from the Parishes of Kagunguli, Bukongo, and Nansio), returned yesterday afternoon; totally imbued with ‘divine satisfaction’ at the success of their pilgrimage.
May his soul rest in peace. We can now return to today’s election topic. The disturbing features of the election campaigns.
We will focus on one serious aspect of the ugly, disturbing features that have suddenly emerged during the on-going election campaigns; consisting of certain deliberate breaches of the election rules and regulations; plus, and even more serious, the seemingly politically motivated acts of violence that are being witnessed, albeit in only certain isolated areas of the country.
Some of the reported wrongdoings According to mass media reports, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Director Dr. Wilson Charles, told a press conference in Arusha on Sunday 27th September 2020, that the CHADEMA Presidential election candidate would be required to appear and defend himself before the Commission’s Ethics Committee, over a number of false claims made by him during some of his campaign speeches.
He was being accused of uttered certain “lies and fabrications, that aim to inflict panic among citizens and voters, and to paint an image that this year’s elections will not be free and fair”; which is in flagrant breach of the election rules and regulations.
We can only hope that the said candidate will listen to the admonishments that will be given to him, and refrain from repeating such ‘nuisance offences’.
The more serious criminal offences However, we must take a more serious view of the seemingly politically motivated criminal offences that are being committed; the most recent event being the brutal killing in Njombe, of the Chairman of the Umoja wa Vijana wa CCM’s Wing of the Higher Education Students ; who had been missing for six days before his dead body was discovered, abandoned in a forest area.
Since this year’s election campaigns started, there have been a few other similar criminal acts committed elsewhere, for example in Tunduma, Ukara, and Pemba; perpetrated by suspects who have since been arrested by the Police. This, to say the least, is a very disturbing trend in our country’s politics.
It is disturbing and worrisome, because such “politics of violence” cannot be tolerated by any peaceloving people anywhere; but more so, by the peace-loving people in the land of Nyerere, that peace-loving statesman (and promising candidate for the sainthood), who resolutely preached the doctrine of “nonviolence”, even during the struggle for Tanganyika’s independence; and whose death we are sadly commemorating during this same campaign period.
What could be the source of this trouble? In my humble opinion, the propensity to “break the rules of the game” of the multi-party electoral competition, is rooted in the serious lack, or absence, of the requisite multi-party culture; which is basically what accounts for such criminal - oriented behaviour being displayed by some of the extremists in most of our political parties.
This absence of the requisite political culture is itself caused by the fact that the practice of ‘party politics’ is not part of our traditional governance culture, which was based not on political parties, but on “one person rule” by our traditional rulers known as Chiefs, who ruled with no participation whatsoever by organizations called political parties.
These organizations were introduced only later, at the time when the colonial administrators were granting independence to their former administered territories, including Tanzania.
And even the colonial Administrators themselves ruled directly from their Colonial Office in London, without any local participation by political parties.
In other words, ‘political parties’ were an imposition by the foreign colonial Administrators, not really rooted in the native cultures of the people, upon whom it was suddenly imposed.
Indeed, it is common knowledge that in then Tanganyika, as well as in Zanzibar; political parties were first created in the 1950s; as part of the colonialists’ “preparations of the people of these countries for independence”.
That is probably why, when Mwalimu Nyerere introduced TANU in Tanganyika in July 1954, that organization quickly became a nationalist “movement”, which was rapidly joined by the majority of all the country’s adults; thus making the country a de facto “One-party State”, even before it became a de jure One-party State in 1965, and remained so for the following 30 long years; thus denying the people the opportunity to get properly exposed to the workings of a multi-party political system!
It is my firm contention therefore, that the lack of a firmly rooted multi-party culture among the people, is what is at the core of all the problems that we are experiencing in connection with operating the multi-party political system; simply because it is an ‘imposed’ culture or practice, which is not deeply rooted in our own traditional cultures and practices.
Evidence from other jurisdictions It has for a long time also been my contention, that multi-party democracy is, basically, a product of Western civilization, that is deeply rooted in the Western countries of Europe and North America” ; and has no roots in many other countries, where this Western – based culture does not exist.
That is principally why there have always been practical problems in operating the multi-party system in these other countries in accordance with the stipulated “rules of the game”.
In support of this contention, I have previously cited examples from other so-called “Third World” countries, including Grenada in the West Indies part of the hemisphere, whose Prime Minister, Hon. Keith Mitchell, who was reported in October 2000 to have lamented as follows:- “The Caribbean people have long had a reputation of passionate partisan debate in the adversarial form of Parliamentary democracy that we inherited from Westminster.
But they also enjoyed the reputation of playing by the rules of the game: the winners of the argument took office, and the losers continued the debate from the Opposition benches inside Parliament, and prepared for the next election. But today, in an alarming number of cases, the passionate political debates are being continued not in Parliament, but in the streets.
And are being pressed not by debate, but by demonstrations ! Our acceptance of the Parliamentary system of Government, is being seriously eroded”. In view of the emerging wrongdoings cited above that are being perpetrated by extremists in some of our political parties, we can similarly lament that “our acceptance of the multi-party electoral democracy is being seriously eroded”, by those who are deliberately refusing to abide by the stipulated “rules of the (multi-party) game”.
The worrying issue of criminality in politics On Tuesday, 1st October, 2020; the mass media reported that “the DPP had authorized the prosecution of the arrested CHADEMA cadres”. These reports were referring to the recent brutal murder in Njombe, of a CCM operative called Emmanuel Mlelwa.
The reports also identified the arrested suspects as CHADEMA cadres. The four suspects were:- Thadei Mnyika, a CHADEMA candidate for the forthcoming Local Council elections; George Sanga, the CHADEMA party Secretary for Njombe Town; Optatus Nkwera, CHADEMA’s publicity Secretary for Ramadhani Local Authority Ward, and Goodluck Mfuse, a CHADEMA member resident of Njombe Town.
This issue (of the emerging criminality in the conduct of political activities in our election campaigns) is, indeed, an absolute negation of ‘civilized’ politics; and has been rightly condemned by the majority in our community of peaceful Tanzanians.
And the fact that this problem has also surfaced in several other African countries offers no consolation at all !
(Will continue next week)
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