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Place local government in the hands of locals

The legislators used the strongest verbal terms to call the government to action. The MPs demanded the execution of some of the “offenders” and even bombing them instead of tear gassing hapless students when they demonstrated to demand their rights. 

Voices rose in crescendo with rare uniformity to demand action from the government with the MPs from the ruling CCM the ones actually leading the onslaught against at least five cabinet ministers who they accused of massive embezzlement of public funds.

Those dangled on a cliff hanger included the Minister for Finance, Mr Mustapha Mkulo, Mr Omar Nundu (Transportation), William Ngeleja (Energy and Minerals), Dr Cyril Chami (Industries and Trade) and Mr George Mkuchika (Local Government). Ironically, Mr Mkulo, Mr Nundu and Mr Ngeleja were not in the chamber as they were said to be out of the country on some other important matters of state.

The real bombshell was dropped by Hon Zitto Zuberi Kabwe (Kigoma North - Chadema) who said if MPs felt truly pained by the rot in government, then they should join hands in a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister, the only official parliament could censure. (Parliament can also impeach the president but has no powers to directly punish cabinet ministers, who are appointees of the president).

Technically, it was possible for the opposition MPs to collect 70 signatures, or 20 per cent of all the MPs in order to move a motion of no confidence against the PM in the House. However, it is next to impossible for the motion to sail through as rules require more than 50 per cent of the MPs to vote in favour of the motion in a secret ballot for the government to fall.

The opposition has about 90 MPs, a far cry from at least the 176 MPs needed to support the motion for the House to oust the PM. But the question is: Is it politically and tactically prudent for the government to let the House get to the stage of collecting the 70 signatures? In my opinion, it is not and, given the high political stakes, major changes in the cabinet lineup are more than necessary.

It is no longer a question of party politics but a new national awakening resulting from the debate on three key reports of Parliamentary Standing Committees, namely the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by Hon John Momose Cheyo (Bariadi East-UDP), the Public Organisations Accounts Committee (POAC) chaired by Hon Kabwe and the Local Authorities Accounts Committee (LAAC), chaired by Dr Augustine Lyatonga Mrema (Vunjo – TLP) together with the report of the Controller and Auditor General (CAG). 

It transpired that Kishapu District Council in Shinyanga Region, emerged as the glaring example of how public funds are embezzled in local authorities right under the gaze of Mr Mkuchika’s portfolio and many other corrupt deals involving a dubious plane leasing contract by state owned Air Tanzania Corporation Limited and ministerial interference in the management of the Consolidated Holdings Corporation Limited (CHC) By Mr Mkulo over what the MPs claimed were personal interests.

It has come to a point whereby real power in local authorities should truly lie in the hands of the people. Local governments in this country were introduced in 1949 after the Second World War. Part of the reason was to give the people, who were still under colonial rule, a stake in affairs that involved matters of their own development.

One of the things that the colonialists introduced was that local authorities were headed as much as possible by local people. Technical staff could come from anywhere in the country but the Secretaries, as they were called then, were local people.

I remember in the Lake Zone for instance, my dad, Alypius Munyaga was Secretary and Treasurer of the Ukerewe and Ukara Native Authority. Native Authorities later became the district councils. Mzee Lucas Mahera was the head of the Geita Native Authority while Mzee John Lugayira headed the Mwanza Native Authority.

In addition to that native authorities were graded according to revenue collected. I think Maswa was native authority grade V, the highest in the Lake Zone while Ukerewe was grade IV, the second highest. It was schools built by the U&UNA that made children not to walk more than four kilometers (two miles) to school.

If the government has indeed decided to devolve some of its powers, then there is no need for the president to continue appointing the District Executive Directors (DEDs). Many of them, I can darer say, are a reactionary force against local efforts and thrust to develop simply because they happen to be presidential appointees. What is so difficult for the government to truly place local government in the hands of the locals?


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Author: Mboneko Munyaga

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