31 Oct 2009

Sometimes I am left wondering if democracy means anything to a common man on the street.Look at Tanzania.Our elected representatives in the National Assembly have,arguably,made democracy look like a joke.How on earth would they defend accepting (or rather demanding) extra allowances despite their hefty packages in terms of their sitting allowances and salaries?

It's more than ironic when a body entrusted with the task of making laws becomes a champion in breaking the law.Our MPs should understand that it's simply unacceptable for them to demand or receive hospitality allowances not only because it could impact their opinions but also they are already receiving more benefits an ordinary Tanzanian could only imagine about.

I am even more disgusted by the stance taken by the Speaker of the House Samuel Sitta who claims that 'hospitality allowance is offered in accordance with African tradition.Bribe is not an African tradition,and that is exactly what our MPs are doing.It is widely understood that hospitality accorded to MPs when they visit an organisation for a fact-finding mission could very well be an attempt to soften their stance towards it.In other words,our MPs could easily be bribed by lunch allowances simply because they can't have enough.

Of course, I have been one of the strongest critic of PCCB,especially after its Director General Edward Hosea was implicated by a Parliamentary Committee which was investigating the Richmond scam.However,despite "getting it right at a wrong time" PCCB has every right to investigate the said claims against our MPs.

And it is ridiculous for Speaker Sitta to give statements which imply that MPs are above the law,and therefore have a divine right to break the law.Although it could be true that the decision by PCCB ot investigate the hospitality allowances was prompted by the much anticipated House debate on the Richmond scam,it still does not make our MPs,Sitta included,immune to scrutiny on favours accorded to our representatives.

Back to my point about how ironic democracy could look when analysing African politics,it makes one wonder if the 300 plus MPs representing Tanzanians in Dodoma are actually useful.Arguably,the only thing that most of our MPs have been so effective is in demanding improvement in their benefits.They have so far failed to pressurise the Government to act responsibly in dealing with such important issues as the Richmond scandal,stupid mining contracts and the likes.How could they while they rely on the Government for 'improving' their welfare?

It looks as if the Government's trick to bring the hospitality allowance issue ahead of the debate on the Richmond scam has worked perfectly.Our MPs are so busy to justify that they deserve 'bribes' in a form of hospitality allowances that they have completely forgotten about pressing the Government to come clean on the Richmond saga.

As I have frequently written in my previous posts,I strongly believe that despite of what majority of Tanzanians would like to see or hear,the Government will never bring the Richmond farce to an end because most of the key players are still useful for its (the government's) survival.Unless you are dreaming,Lowassa and Co are too important to wanamtandao to have him on the dock to tell us how we ended up signing such a silly contract with Richmond.


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