Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Leadership ethics? Where?

Former close aide of the late Mwalimu Nyerere, Joe Butiku, has warned that corruption has become so endemic that it is now like a cancer in the Tanzanian society.

He should know, for he was there, when a successive bunch of liars diddled Mwalimu to think that they were his ardent followers. In fact they were bidding their time and eventually outlasted the late Mzee. Now they are simply a national embarrassment.

Butiku has said hardened corrupt individuals holding public office have been infecting erstwhile honest Tanzanians with the bribery and corruption ‘disease”. That is simply not true. What we have now is not a disease, but a pandemic!

“Corruption is eating our nation. More and more public servants today are tossing public leadership in favour of dabbling in grand corruption, which can explain the sudden wealth that many of them now display.” He has lamented.

And the most irksome thing is they flaunt it! The rest of us mortals are supposed to applaud their idiosyncrasies. But then, when there is impunity, people start wondering and asking questions.

For example, the government is urging people to pay their taxes to help development. Serious things like spending their taxes in buying Shs 100 million shangingis each for the district Bwana Mkubwa to inspect development . Like the opening of a Shs 5 million shilling toilet in a primary school. Of course the money to dig the toilets that have been donated by donors.

Then the premier goes public and tells his civil servants to cut spending for the luxuries. The civil servants simply ignore him and buy more shangingis. Some of us mortals start wondering – just who is the boss?

Then the government orders the people to pay their taxes. The natural question from the people is - why? To get social services, the government replies, trying to be reasonable.

But we think we citizens of Tanzania need tax exemptions. Never! The government huffs, everyone is supposed to pay tax or else! Then the citizens decide to jog the government’s memory a bit. The government gave a tax exemption of $11 million to a foreign company … Assayers.

This foreign company is given preference to the Tanzania’s school system, medical facilities and other social amenities so as to please a foreign capitalists company. If it is given a tax-exemption why not the citizen of the United Republic of Tanzania?

The government resorts to its pet stance – see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing. You only get an odd statement that the government means business when it says that it will get all those fisadis.

We hear that nearly 13 million Tanzania never pay tax. But everyone knows that. Most businessmen don’t pay tax, they just ‘contribute’ to the ruling party out of love and affection.

We all remember when former premier Fredo Sumaye advised businessmen to support CCM if they wanted to do business in Tanzania. The question is why pay tax so that the least productive guys in town continue to buy shangingis?

So the people decide that instead of paying tax, they would rather put their money on DECI, pyramid system or any other place instead of government coffers to see the unholy alliance of traders and civil servants chop all the money.

Mr. Joe Butiku and his types have an uphill task. For years now, every reign of the rulers have pretended to fight corruption. The rulers are thinking aloud with their mouths. It looks official now, unless the wananchi ‘see’ actions against the excesses, they will also retaliate – why pay taxes for the free-loaders to have fun at their expense? It seems to be paying if the wananchi learn to do nothing or also learn the game of the plunderers who have made ‘stealing’ quite a respectable past-time in our country.

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