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The politics of appointments and Tanzanian professions

The politics of appointments and Tanzanian professions

When it comes to power generation, there is no doubt that such a man would have covered subjects such as hydropower generation, fossil fuel generation, nuclear, coal, wind, solar, tide and other means.

This man would know the economics of the various methods and the environmental implications thereof. I'm writing about power because it is one of our most pressing national problems. Would it not be in order to have this person as the Minister for Energy? ... okay and Minerals?  Personally, I'm an engineer by profession, so I can speak with some authority on technical matters.

While at the college I took a Law option, the Law of Contracts and the Law of Torts (Thank you Mrs Migiro). It gave me an awareness of these issues but I can make no claim to be an authority on legal matters. We have Minister Y, who is a Lawyer by profession.

He get's the appointment of the Ministry of Energy (and yes, Minerals). He must, obviously, be brilliant in matters related to his profession but it is to be expected that he will have limited knowledge on matters that are very technical by the very nature of his ministry. I would not blame him or be surprised if he was first made aware of what a megawatt is when he joined the Ministry of Energy as minister. Prior to this appointment, Ohms and Watts were none of his business.

To be fair to the government, doctors have occasionally been appointed to head the Ministry of Health. But with the same, unpredictability, Lawyers (nothing personal) have been appointed as ministers of infrastructure. The argument goes that there are professionals in the ministry who will advise the man on top so that he doesn't need to know the details of the workings of the lower levels.

The argument goes further and says in fact the man on top does not need to know the technicalities of his ministry because 'anyone' intelligent enough and with common sense can learn on the job! Both commonsense and intelligence are highly relative issues...measures for IQ are coming under scrutiny and it has been realized that common sense is not all that common!

The argument above can only hold water to a certain extent: JK may try me as Ambassador to an English speaking country. I'm sure my subordinates can advise me on the protocol issues, local culture, laws, etc.  But if we were to start a nuclear energy programme, one would expect the man on top to know about uranium, the famous equation by Einstein which relates Energy and Matter and something about radiation, at least the basics of nuclear physics.

If such a man is not available within the ranks of the elected MP's, the president can appoint one and make him minister, if it's a ministry issue. Five years is a short time in the life of a nation. If all the ministers have to learn on the job, it is costly and expensive.

Professions have to be respected because they have developed over centuries of acquired knowledge and proven through practice. Political decision making as far as appointments are concerned has "kulipa fadhila" and future votes as the underlying agenda for everything.

In world of ever increasing complexity, knowledge (professional) is the key to right decision making. We, the people, love to see competent people manning important positions that affect our lives. We stand a better chance of success, if when possible, the right professionals are appointed to the right positions.


Author: John Ndunguru

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