Saturday, October 31, 2009

I told you so, John Pombe!

A couple of months ago, I said the government was about to goof in it’s handling of 296 tonnes of fish caught by Philippino pirates of the cost of Tanzania.

It was a commendable job by Livestock Development and Fisheries Minister, John Pombe Magufuli and his troops. Then some smart Alecs in the ministry, definitely with a nod from John Pombe himself, started thinking like traders, which is none of their business. That was the start of the goof.

They hired a trader in Dar who had cold storage facilities in Mwenge, to store the fish as ‘evidence’ Eyebrows were raised amongst sane men. Why store that ‘evidence’ at 800 dollars a tonne a day when it had already been verified by the state organs?

Eye Spy suggested that it only needed a posse of learned judges to spend an hour at the Mwenge Cold storage facilities and write their reports on the evidenced. Then auction the fish fasta to Tanzanians before the storage bill soared to dizzying heights. Of course the smart Alecs ignored the advise from the nosey media. In our country only the politicians and the bureaucrats are capable for any thought. The rest of us are the goons.

And now – voila! John Pombe has come in eating humble pie. The government will distribute the fish, valued at Shs 2.07 billion for free! In hindsight he has suddenly discovered that the government does not do business.

John Pombe said the distribution would start next week. The consignment would be distributed to institutions such as schools, higher learning institutions, prisons, hospitals and orphanages.

When you goof, you simply should bite the bullet and duck. But not to be outdone John Pombe started thinking with his mouth, instead of his head. He said the institutions will not be allowed to sell the fish!

Aw, c’mon John! How do you ‘supervise’ a corporal from say, Magereza, from picking up the fish from Mwenge and dropping half the loot at the Ferry Fish market?

Forgery is a fine art in Tanzania. The Bank of Tanzania (BoT) was cleaned up (EPA) by crude forgers in collusion with BoT officials. Now what stops John Pombe’s ministry officials from not ‘going to work’ on the fish deal?

During elections 10,000 voters all of a sudden turn to 20,000, all of whom swear that they love the CCM. What stops a driver from the Chuo Kikuu who has been told to pick 2 tonnes of tuna fish from the cold storage godowns from adding a zero and pick 20 tonnes? Will John and his cohorts be there to arrest him?

Worse, the minister says that Tanzanians shouldn’t worry about the huge bill to the taxpayer. “The public should not be worried over the cost over the cost of the impounded fish. We should be happy of victory against fishing pirates.” John Pombe has said placatorily.

But most of us are very uneasy about this. The cost of preservation of the consignment is $800 per tonne per month. By mid August, the government paid $1.184 million for the 296.32 tonnes for a five-month period. No offense meant, John, but some of us normal Tanzanians might pull out our calculators and start wondering what 10 per cent of $1.184 million is.

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