Ably moderated by Selemani Semunyu, it has become Tanzania’s Hard Talk like that of BBC’s Tim Sebastian. Ironically, it compares to the onetime short-lived Radio Tanzania’s Mikingamo programme that could not weather the storm from the wahujumu uchumi (economic saboteurs) of the 1980s. Mikingamo programme was an effective whistle blower and bliss to the listeners wanting to hear who was next on the firing line.
However dakika 45 programme became popular last year when it interviewed a number of ministers mostly involved on issues demanding explanations. Ministers would be invited to either white wash what has been alleged on them or to clear the air on issues related to their ministries.
A number of Ministers were lined up including the Minister of Lands and Housing Prof Tibaijuka, the Minister of Home Affairs Shamsi Vuai Nahodha just to mention a few. Also from Zanzibar, we saw how the Island‘s Minister Haji Duni smartly responded to the probing questions of Semunyu. And actually this programme has attracted headlines on the papers on the stories emanating from these interviews. It looks ministers did speak with caution yet with great easiness.
Unlike in other press interviews, there was no hassle in getting them. Probably the confidence comes from President Kikwete who at one time instructed his ministers to talk to the press on their portfolios otherwise people may talk negatively on their behalf. At the end of last year, Semunyu reviewed the programme by featuring again the topical issues that were addressed by the ministers in the same programme and came up with his own formula of getting the top ten.
I say, he used his own formula because the yard stick of getting the first to the last one was not clear. The top one was the Minister of East African Cooperation Samuel John Sitta. Probably he talked so much on ufisadi! Was the selection based on the one who featured most in his programme or who had the most serious issues to address? I know one of the African countries where at the end of the year, the press appraises cabinet ministers with points starting with the president himself to the ministers.
It is very interesting having the president scoring fewer points than some of his ministers. Of late, Semunyu’s selection of interviewees was very interesting. He picked the Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Cyril Chami to be followed by Mathias Chikawe the Minister of Good Governance. The two ministers are holding key ministries and have just returned from India where they had been receiving medical treatment.
To all of them, Semunyu at first concentrated his questions on the core business they are involved in their ministries. The two ministers prior to these interviews were not known to be fond of showing off themselves to the press. Dr Chami agreed to this and said; “I believe in working rather than in talking. I do talk to the press when it is absolutely necessary. But as of now, I will find some time to talk to the press.”
He gave an over view of his ministry’s effort in revitalizing industrial activities of this country, talking of the Liganga iron ore project and Mbinga’s power project going on. Semunyu had all the questions and reserved one for the last and that was on the minister’s healthy. Of late there has been some speculations from the press that President Kikwete was about to announce a new cabinet and possibly dropping those who are currently on the sick list.
These include Prof Mwandosya, Dr Mwakyembe, Dr Chami, Mr Chikawe and some others. Dr Chami seemingly healthy in the screen assured the viewers that he is very strong and works for more than the normal hours in his office. So as Minister Chikawe,
he looked very healthy and just said that if those involved in this smear campaign on his healthy think sickness could jeopardize his reappointment as the minister, better look for another reason not this one as he is not sick! Minister Chikawe emphasized, “I am very fine and have already informed my worried mother that that I am OK.” The Minister looked very strong.
He also admitted that he is not a press fanatic and that if there is anything to be said; the spokesman from his Ministry is well informed and can do the job. But this does not limit him from talking to the press as seen in the interview he granted. The last question on his healthy compromised the good narration he had earlier on the Open Government Partnership and the work of the Ethic Secretariat. He also touched on Customer’s Care where the government is the chief culprit.
He cited examples of delays in responding back to the letters sent to many government offices. But all that said, what kind of a nation that we are! Have we reached at a point where we can dance on other people’s graves? That is not our culture at all. What we hear on Dr Mwakyembe’s saga is sickening. The disease which everybody is not ready to talk about is even complicating the whole issue.
The ethical semantics which are not clear to many of us may turn our people becoming doubting Thomases from whatever their government is going to tell them. Our politicians now have reached a point where they do not trust one another. The physical elimination of politicians is now eminent in our country. We used to hear it from afar. But now our politicians cannot afford to leave their drinks on the table for a call of nature. Where is our humanity?