Dear your Excellency,
Greetings from the Far East. It is my hope you are doing well.
Of late we have witnessed the political climate in North Africa changing rapidly. This is due to the popular demonstrations and "uprisings" that have toppled governments. First it was Tunisia then followed Egypt and perhaps Libya will be next. I wish to convey to you that the reasons that led to discontent among the populace of these two countries are not markedly different from the situation at home. Before I venture into the reasons I wish to clarify that we are a democracy as such this differentiates Tanzania from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain etc therefore on the face of it we may think we are safe. However, kindly persue the subsequent paragraphs to understand the gravity of the situation.
On a surgical analysis, it is evident that economic conditions are the main causative agents of the protests. This does not mean I am overlooking the political ones however the economic hardships are the main drivers of the "revolutions".
Majority of the protesters were complaining of high food prices, rising fuel costs, massive unemployment, inefficient educational system, corruption, rising income inequality, police brutality and complete lack of accountability by those in power just to name but a few. On looking at these grounds it is clear that the nation (Tanzania) is in the same predicament. The fuel prices are at the roof causing a pinch into every inhabitant's pocket. The domino effect of this is inexplicable on such small space and since you hold economics degree I need not explain the obvious to you.
Further the educational system is in a mess. From primary schools to the university level the government seems to have abdicated its responsibility of providing quality education to the populace. It was easy after liberalization in 1990's to view this as a responsibility of the private sector however we are witnessing the repercussions presently. There is a big shortage of schools plus universities both of which are under-equipped resource-wise. From the lack of teachers to lack of facilities and books the problems are endless.
What is annoying many is the ineptness of the government to deal with the problem surgically. It has to take students to protest for anything meaningful to be done! There seems to be no meaningful government plans of action to alleviate this problem something, which only spells doom for the future.
Rising income inequality is visible from the opulence of the few including the government officials. There is a big gap between incomes in the government servants. The income plus perks of the high-ranking bureaucrats make that of teachers, doctors, lecturers and even the normal civil servant look like loose change. While the government complains of not having money to increase the salaries, we can see new mashangingi being bought, Tea only for the high ranking members in the office continuing to be served. It
makes one wonder, if you do not possess money then how do u service these two of the many unnecessary components.
Not only that, the income inequalities resulting from the business entities or businessmen with close ties to the officials in government also provide fuel for people to hate their government. The media is abuzz with such stories and not all can be discounted with mere deniability or by cooking up a conspiracy story because of the integrity of the journalists who provide them.
At this juncture sir, I think it is pertinent I touch on the subject you may of late hate to hear, corruption and lack of accountability. I have stressed your dislike because some of the allegations have been projected personally to you. Many of the corruption scandals have happened under your nose. The biggest of them all was the Richmond saga. Richmond was the precursor of Dowans. In other words Richmond sold the contract it had with Tanesco to Dowans. The Parliamentary probe committee found that the contract was
awarded under dubious circumstances to an entity that never had any expertise in power generation. Several people were named in the report as the main persons responsible in putting the country at loss. The then prime minister resigned however to the amazement of the nation, no one else was punished. Now we may have to cough billions of shillings in damages for terminating a contract that many feel shouldn’t have been signed at all or was voidable at the option of the government. This has sparked public outrage. What has enraged many of us is the sum proposed to be paid and
which the government was easily willing to release while the culprits who consciously put the country into the quagmire have not been brought to book. It is total lack of accountability that has permeated every corner of the government you run Mr. President. One of the essential questions being asked is where was the government going to get all this money at such a short juncture and if such money is available why is the government complaining of not having money to implement developmental projects.
Politically the recently concluded general elections which returned you to power was full of allegations of rigging and of the state agencies helping your party. This has prompted calls which I believe are justified of rewriting the Constitution so as, among other things, to make some offices like the Chairman of the election commission not a presidential appointee. It is no secret that the Constitution is unsuited to the present political atmosphere.
Even members of your own political party recognize this fact so it makes us wonder why even such a basic element which is inevitable the Government drags its feet to accomplish.
Your Excellency, as I know you are a busy man, I think I should not consume much of your precious time with what has been repeated so many times by Mwananchi and Mwanahalisi. There are still issues to discuss like Police brutality to unarmed lawful protesters in Arusha with no action taken by you to punish those responsible.
Mr. President as I end this letter I wish to remind to you again the purpose of writing. I wanted to show you that the conditions, which prevailed in the North African states that have experienced forceful regime change, precipitate also in our beautiful country. Therefore it is time for the government to tackle these issues before the situation gets out of hand. The masses have shown that no regime is immune from challenge therefore should never get complacent. It is my hope that your wisdom will prevail and ensure the economic as well as political problems are solved in a meaningful way to the satisfaction of everyone.
Your law-abiding citizen,Ntemi Massanja