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Wangwe: Magufuli government carries . . . ‘Seeds of hope’ for poor

SOME call it wishful thinking, others even stupendous audacity. But renowned policy researcher Prof Samwel Wangwe believes the spirit of ‘Ujamaa’ as enshrined in the Arusha Declaration isn’t dead … just yet, the ‘Sunday News’ can report.

Prof Wangwe, who once served in the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ruling CCM party, says there are ‘strong indicators’ that the ‘core’ values of Socialism and Self-Reliance could still be harnessed to craft a better national ethic now, thanks to the current administration of President John Magufuli.

“…there’s greater hope now … more than any time before, that we could ‘rework’ the Arusha Declaration, though modified to suit our current (political) situation … and help bring back public trust in the government and its (erstwhile corrupted) institutions,” he averred last Wednesday, in a keynote lecture at the Nyerere Resource Centre (NRC), better christened as KAVAZI, in Kiswahili.

Significantly, NRC Director, Prof Issa Gulamhussein Shivji, had earlier told the audience that the whole of the 2017 calendar was dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Arusha Declaration, its pot kept boiling by four ‘signature’ Nyerere Dialogue Lectures.

Last Wednesday’s event was the fourth – and last – in a series that began in February, the month the Arusha blueprint announced in 1967. In his lecture, Rise and Fall of the Arusha Declaration, Prof Wangwe first reflected on the euphoria that greeted its birth across the nation – and beyond – with the muted silence that followed its vain attempts at ‘killing it’ through an equally hoary ‘Zanzibar declaration’ of 1991.

Without mincing words, he said the spirit of Arusha was ‘strangled’ by the very people entrusted with its safe-keeping; in other words, it incurred the wrath of the people who stood on its line of fire (read top party leaders) – all because it came strongly against leaders, in particular, manipulating positions of public trust as a springboard to amassing personal wealth.

And giving kudos to the Fifth Phase Government, Prof Wangwe cited five key indicators – borne out by public pronouncements of Dr Magufuli, both as national party chairman and Head of State, inter alia; … The President’s distinct pledge to honour the foundations (of public governance) as laid out by the nations’ founding fathers; .

Pledges by the Head of State to fight grand corruption; As Party National Chairman, his directives to party functionaries to work for the interests of the poor – all reminiscent of a party that once recognised only two cadres – of the working class and peasants; .

The President’s mantra, “Hapa Kazi Tu (lit. Hard Work Matters Most)” which is predicated on its erstwhile cousin, Juhudi Na Maarifa (Lit. Exemplary performance based on tested knowledge); and, finally; .

Cost-cutting measures, exemplified by his own (President’s) disdain of foreign travel and ostentatious spending on celebrations; for starters, he used money saved from Independence Day festivities to pave a five-kilometre road in suburban Kijitonyama, for instance.

Not surprisingly, these remarks kicked a tirade of dissenting views from the opposition and young people when he declared that the Arusha Declaration wasn’t dead and thanks to Magufuli, its core values could come handy in crafting a new national ethic.

Easily one of the biggest ‘face palms’ or putdowns of the day occurred when ACT-Wazalendo leader Zitto Kabwe opined that, both now as before, the entire policy of ‘Ujamaa’ and Self-Reliance amounted to no more than creating “state capitalism … and that’s why it was easy to sell off state corporations and enterprises …”

In particular, Zitto had few kind words for the current administration, even suggesting it was ideologically bereft (his own phrase actually rubbished government efforts at reform as ‘ideologically bankrupt’ before session chairperson Dr Ng’wanza Kamata ushered him down).

Earlier, speaker after speaker had raised similar concerns, albeit in milder terms, about apparent lack of a clear ideology to guide the country’s development effort. But none volunteered any bright ideas about what or how, their own brand of ‘ideological’ blueprint would look like, except for celebrated evangelist Kamala Kasupa, who called for an ‘expanded’ KAVAZI that would provide a nationwide platform that would give the poor a voice, not just a select few academics talking on their behalf.

In stark contrast to Zitto Kabwe’s barbs against the sitting government, Kasupa likened Tanzania’s political dispensation to the biblical times in the Book of Lamentations, saying: “…we’re mourning the death of Arusha Declaration … “ which he said died (in Zanzibar in 1991), dashing hopes of a better life for the poor, adding, “… a whole generation is mourning…”

“Philosophy begets ideology … and ideology begets policy,” another participant could hazard, before he fired the ultimate poser: “… what exactly is our ideology right now?” A Masters student in Mass Communications at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), decried what he described as ‘increasing infringement of freedom of expression” exemplified by arrests and ‘disappearances” of media practitioners and junior mandarins from the opposition parties.

Unperturbed, Prof Wangwe acknowledged all concerns from the floor, but put them down as veritable items of the nation’s ‘unfinished agenda’ and that they would all be dealt with at future KAVAZI dialogues – still on Arusha or other emerging issues, according to Prof Shivji.

And perhaps in a direct retort to Mr Zitto Kabwe’s saucy remarks, Prof Wangwe said, in part: “We’re not here to review the performance of programmes and projects of the current administration … .” Asking his audience to focus on a larger canvas, he said: “… I still believe that … there are strong indicators … that we stand a greater chance now … than any time before … to regain trust in the government … whether through the current ruling party or others to follow…”

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