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Posts Tagged ‘Basil Mramba

The Hidden Costs of Democracy: Footing the bill for retired leaders

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Ever since the late Julius Nyerere stepped down from office in 1985, Tanzania has maintained a positive leadership tradition on a continent where succession is often problematic. Presidents serve for their full two terms- a decade- and then retire to live out the rest of their days as respected elder statesmen. Ministers and Prime Ministers and Vice Presidents serve at the pleasure of their Presidents and then either continue with their political careers as Members of Parliament, or they retire. Now, with all this retiring going on, Tanzania’s peaceful succession model has actually left her with a hefty maintenance bill for former public servants, so claims this story in today’s Tanzania Daima‘Vigogo wastaafu mzigo kwa taifa’ [Retired leaders a burden on the nation], (The link is unavailable. Their site appears to be down). 

There are a number of African countries that have put old presidents out to pasture with varying degrees of grace: Ghana, South Africa, Botswana and more recently Kenya come to mind. The well-intended Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership – set at 5 million USD- is meant in part as a financial incentive for African leaders not to accumulate retirement funds through abuse of power. How that negligible amount of money is supposed to distract incumbents from the temptations provided by having access to their national treasuries is not entirely clear. It may be instructive that in 2009 the prize went unclaimed as the Mo Ibrahim Foundation failed to find a worthy candidate – a President who had served within her or his term limits and retired within the past three years. 

One interesting angle that has been raised in the Tanzania Daima story is the issue of public servants who resigned due to corruption-related pressures. Edward Lowassa was mentioned as one of the leaders who are receiving a hefty government pension. Does this imply that Andrew Chenge, Grey Mgonja, Johnson Mwanyika, Basil Mramba and other recent ‘retirees’ are enjoying their rightful benefits as former public servants? And what message is the government sending its largest cohort of employees- school teachers- who have not received their relatively affordable salaries for a long time? In any case, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation should take note that President Jakaya Kikwete will be ripe for the Leadership Prize in the first quarter of 2016. 

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Written by serengetiadvisersblog

January 8, 2010 at 16:48

Things that make you go hmmmm…

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The Minister for Energy and Minerals, Mr. William Ngeleja, got into an altercation with a security guard (Swahili needed) at the Standard Chartered ATM yesterday. According to Mr. Pascal Mnaku, an employee of Ultimate Security Ltd, Mr. Ngeleja was in the booth talking on his mobile phone and he was trying to alert the Minister to the fact that other clients were waiting to use the ATM when: “The Minister suddenly turned around and started shouting at me asking me ‘Do you know who I am? You don’t know who I am!’ and he started swearing at me…*” Mr. Mnaku was summoned along with his superiors to Minister Ngeleja’s office in the afternoon for further discussion. 

Cautionary tales: other memorable instances of public egotism include former Minister for Finance Basil Mramba’s statement that the government would buy a presidential jet even if this meant that we would have to ‘eat grass’ (Swahili needed) to afford it, former Minister for Infrastructure Development Andrew Chenge’s dismissal of his massive, and allegedly suspect, personal fortune as Vijisenti’ (Swahili needed) and former Tabora Regional Commissioner Ukiwaona Ditopile Mzuzuri’s homicidal bout of road rage (Swahili needed)

*Translated from Kiswahili.

UPDATE: So, Mr. Ngeleja responded to the above story. He told Mwananchi (Swahili needed) that he was talking on the phone while waiting for the ATM to dispense his third consecutive cash withdrawal when Pascal Mnaku entered the booth, invading his privacy and demanding that he leave so that other customers could use the machine. Mr. Ngeleja apparently tried to reason with him, but Mr. Mnaku became verbally aggressive all the while showing no sign of knowing who he was talking to:

“I am certain that guard didn’t know who I was during that time, as he was starting to get confrontational one customer tried to warn him that he was speaking to a Cabinet Minister but he continued to shout *” 

Yes, Minister. 

*Translated from Kiswahili.

Written by serengetiadvisersblog

January 7, 2010 at 17:09