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Local government authority leaders are not allowances!

Local government authority leaders are not allowances!

The way words are arranged in a sentence – they call it ‘syntax’ – can distort the meaning that a writer may have wanted to convey to the readers. Let us look at two cases from stories reported in the Daily Blog of 6th November.

On the paper’s page 2, is a news item titled: “LGAs leaders to be paid by Council’s own funds”. A legislator is reported to have sought to know of the: “plans set by the government to ensure Local Government Authority (LGA) leaders receive their allowances ‘like ward councillors and members of parliament’, considering their crucial roles that include property tax collection”.

The way the words are arranged in the above sentence suggests that the allowances to be received by LGA leaders include ward councillors and members of parliament. Since when, one may ask, did ward councillors and members of parliament, become allowances, which in this particular case, mean money?

The problem is syntax. The writer arranged the words, ‘ndivyo sivyo’. Here is our version: “the legislator sought to know the plans set by the government to ensure LGA leaders, like ward councillor and Members of Parliament, receive their allowances, considering their crucial roles that include property tax collection”.

It had been reported earlier that: “the government would continue working on issues associated with allowances for LGAs leaders ‘so that are paid’ from the councils’ internal sources”. I would modify this sentence slightly: “the government would continue working on issues associated with allowances for LGAs leaders ‘so that they are paid’ from the councils’ internal ‘revenue’ sources”.

A similar mix up of words in a sentence is to be found on the paper’s page 4, in a news item titled: “Government embarks on strategies to address edible oil shortage”, in which the Minister for Agriculture is reported to have said: “the government is planning to purchase 2,000 bicycles for extension services, ‘smart phones and soil testing kits in its plan to boost edible oil production in the country”.

So is the government buying bicycles for extension services and smart phones and soil testing kits? Certainly not. The words need rearranging, like is being suggested here-below: “the government is planning to purchase 2,000 bicycles, smart phones and soil testing kits, for extension services, in its plan to boost edible oil production in the country”.

Thinking in one language and writing in another can sometimes cause confusion, like is the case in this story titled: “4.5bn/= set aside to rehabilitate 19 livestock markets”, in which the Minister for Livestock and Fisheries is reported to have talked of a hefty sum of money being made available for the: “construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure at 19 livestock auction markets ‘in the borders’”.

In para 2 the writer goes on to say: “Such ‘auctions’ include Pugu (Dar es Salaam), Mkiu (Coast Region) ………”. This was in reply to a legislator’s question seeking to know “when the government would upgrade infrastructure ‘at the auctions’”. In these foregoing two sentences, it is clear that the writer sees “auctions” as places. This could be a result of seeing things from the Kiswahili point of view, where the word “mnada” means both an auction (activity) and a place where auctions regularly take place.

In English, however, an auction is not a place, it is an activity. According to the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners, auction means: “a public occasion when things are sold to the people who offer the most money for them”.

We cannot therefore use “auction” alone, to mean a place where, say livestock, is bought by way of bidding. “Livestock auction centre” would go well for me; eg improving infrastructure at Pugu, or Mutukula livestock auction centres.

When in Dodoma, do not skip a visit to “Mnadani”! All the best!

lusuggakironde@gmail.com

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