According to Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, founding father of Tanzania, development is hinged on four prerequisites: people, land, constructive politics and good governance. This is also supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and World Bank which recognize that sustainable development and good governance complement each other.
Governance is the manner in which power is administered and resources managed. Good governance is democratic. It involves citizens in decision making, accountability to the electorate; justice and fairness; free and fair elections and transparency. Good governance also entails observing the rule of law; respecting human rights; freedom of expression and an independent as well as impartial judiciary. Signs of good governance are seen in peaceful resolution of conflicts.
Development refers to making peoples’ lives better by enabling them meet their basic needs such as food, good health and education. It involves sensitizing them on their rights; freeing them and creating an environment that gives them a variety of options to choose from. Development ought to have man as its focus consequently aiming at meeting his welfare first.
Most African countries south of the Sahara desert got their independence in the 60s (except Ghana in 1957). Although we believed that independence would automatically grant development, to date, we are still complaining that colonialism, neo-colonialism and globalization are retarding Africa’s development.
Our leaders understand self governance to be plundering the country’s wealth; nepotism, cronyism and tribalism. Resource distribution is done not out of merit and need but out of political correctedness. Responsibilities are being bestowed on people without considering their qualifications and merit. On the other hand, those who merit are denied opportunities. Is this development and good governance?
Africa is endowed with abundant natural resources. The minerals that were used to manufacture the atomic bomb that destroyed Nagasaki and Hiroshima (1945) for example, are found right here in the Democratic Republic of Congo.( Does the country’s good name measure to the situation on the ground?) Minerals that are used to make mobile phones are found in Congo. Is it developed in spite of its vast land and abundant resources?
Consider Tanzania’s rich wildlife habitats. No country in the world boasts of the Tanzanite precious stones apart from Tanzania. Have all these resources benefited the common citizen? Have they improved our living standards? Why are our people still poor? What ails Tanzania and other African nations?
Is our independence a “flag” only independence? Is it meant to adorn our leaders, who are not bent at crafting homegrown solutions to Africa’s problems, in suits?
Are we really independent when we confine ourselves within the boundaries that were demarcated by colonialists? Are we independent when our elections must be manned by external observers? Are we independent when the first thing we do after winning elections is to fly to Europe to open bank accounts? This has become some sort of ‘worship’ or pilgrimage to African leaders. They must go to Europe to offer sacrifice. Why not start by visiting, acknowledging and listening to those who voted us in? Why do we traverse the countryside when soliciting votes but resort to thank the electorate through the press?
What do Tanzanians need first? Development or good governance? In Tanzania, what is lacking is good governance. Most of our leaders do not know our priorities. You can’t preach development when you imposed yourself on people. You can’t preach development when you bought voters. Development does not come through top-bottom approaches. It does not come by ignoring the priority of people. It does not come by starting projects with a view of looting funds.
If we begin with good governance, development will follow. How many Tanzanian leaders respect the constitution? How many leaders are able to stomach opposing views? Listening to different opinions and reaching a consensus is healthy. One side ought not be all knowing. Why do we curtail the press? Why do we discourage the private sector?
If we start with good governance, development shall trickle to all. If we pursue development minus good governance, a few shall benefit- and that is Tanzania’s current position. That is why citizens have no faith in the judiciary, the police, and are taking law into their own hands.
By Father Robert Kitambo
University of Dar es Salaam
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