Blogs continue to provide a venue for Swahili bloggers and their readers to question every action of political leaders. Sure, there are blog posts devoted to other issues – film, fashion and even socio-political commentary with a light touch, but this week one cannot help but notice a series of posts by Tanzania's leading photoblogger Issa Michuzi. He has devoted five posts to the four presidents who have ruled Tanzania so far asking his readers to discuss their performance.
The first two presidents, Mwalimu Nyerere and Ali Hassan Mwinyi escape fairly unscathed from reader's comments – with exceptions of Nyerere's inability to sack his corrupt lieutenants, a charge that is thrown at Ali Hassan Mwinyi too.
On Nyerere, one reader writes:
alisahau sana mambo ya ndani ya nchi na kusaidia sana majirani, aliwabeba watendaji wake wabovu kwa kuwabadilisha badilisha hao hao tu wakiendelea kuharibu, Alikuwa dikteta kiani lakini wakati ule ilifaa, alikuwa na huruma kwa watendaji wake wabovu ambao ndio walikuwa waharibifu wakubwa wa nji
Some blog readers praise Ali Hassan Mwinyi for liberalising the economy after Nyerere's socialist economic policies, but they are critical of his support for laissez-faire principles:
Aliweza kufungua nafasi za kibiashara baada ya mfumo wa kijamaa ambao ulianzishwa na mtangulizi wake. Ila udhaifu wake alishindwa kuendesha miaka 5 ya mwisho ya uongozi kila mtu alikuwa anajifanyia analotaka bila kufuata na taratibu za nchi, rushwa ilishamiri sana kipindi cha mwinyi, na mwisho mfumuko wa bei ulikuwa katika kiwango cha juu.
Tanzania's third president Benjamin Mkapa who opened the doors wider to foreign investors proves a hard to pigeon-hole. Commenting on a post about him, some of Michuzi's readers think he was a genuine hard worker who oversaw improvements in critical infrastructure, schools and expansion of towns. Critics, however, point to the amount of foreign debt he left behind, depreciation of the shilling, the worsening poverty in the rural areas and his wholesale privatisation policy.
While the account of the current Tanzania's president Jakaya Kikwete is still in the making, his many foreign trips are criticised by readers. Since coming to power in October 2005, Kikwete has visited over 25 countries:
Jamaa ni safari na yeye kasahau kuwa anatakiwa akae na kubuni mipango imara.Ni kweli misaada tu ndio suluhisho la matatizo yetu inashangaza.Jamaa yeye anawa win tu wale watu wa uswazi ambao ndio walimchagua. Hao ndio wakisikia anawaleta Real Madrid wanamfurahia sana,hapa anawakuna. Lakini hajafanya lolote kwa uchumi mkuu… NAONA BADO HATUKUMTARAJIA KUFANYA HAYA TUNAYOYAONA. Pia hata maisha yamekuwa magumu kila kunvyokucha kunanini hapa Je amafeli. UTAONA PIA MAAMUZI YAKE MENGI NI YA KUWA WIN WATU. TUSUBIRI
Real Madrid is expected to visit Tanzania later this year at the invitation of Tanzania's president, Jakaya Kikwete.
And others plead for patience before forming an informed opinion about his presidency:
Tusi panic na safari zake he is just taking contact mwaka mmoja on business it is too early to say something kuongoza nchi si rahisi. He sounds promising, young, active and simple (like all Tanzanias). I have confidence he will do good work maana kitu kimoja anapenda wananchi. Tukutane hapa after three yrs ya uongozi wake then we can say something.
And, as Tanzania marches forward with its vision of becoming a nation with a high quality of education to meet regional and global challenges, a critical eye of Mtanzania (a teacher by profession) is focused on the implementation of the Tanzania government's 2004 five-year Secondary Education Development Programme (SEDP) under which 1,050 new secondary schools have been built across the country. However, many of these schools do not have enough teachers.
He thinks that fast track, two months training of new teachers from the ranks of high school graduates to teach in the newly built secondary schools may produce enough but not incompetent teachers.
On the same issue of education, Maggid Mjengwa, sees encouraging signs as people are starting to question the government's conduct. He writes:
Katika jamii yetu tumeanza kuona dalili za wananchi kuanza kuamka na kuhoji juu ya masuala mbali mbali yenye kuwahusu. Moja ya masuala hayo ni hili juu ya ubora wa elimu itolewayo kwa watoto wao. Tumewasikia wazazi kule Serengeti wakihoji; iweje watoto wao wafaulu darasa la saba ilihali hawajui kusoma na kuandika?!
Mjengwa goes on to assert that education in Tanzania is in this state because policy makers and other top officials do not have direct interest in the public school system because most of them send their children to private schools either within the country or abroad.
Tujiulize; hivi kweli waziri angelala usingizi huku akifahamu, kuwa shule ya sekondari ya kata anayosoma mwanawe ina walimu wawili, haina maktaba, chumba cha maabara na mengineyo?…
He goes on to plead to the masses to pay tribute to those who fought for Africa's liberation by continuing the fight by concrete action and by questioning the powers that be.
… Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, Frantz Fanon na wengineo. Hawa ni wana wa bara hili, wamepigania ukombozi wa Mwafrika. Katika utumishi wao kwa bara hili, kupitia kauli na matendo yao, wamejenga misingi ya maarifa ya kuwakomboa Waafrika, wanyonge walio wengi. Kuwaenzi wanamapinduzi hawa, ni kupigania yale waliyoyapigania, kwa vitendo. Ili kuibadili hali tuliyo nayo ni vema tuanze sasa kudadisi na kuhoji. Tanze sasa kuhimiza
In his fiery delivery, Ndesanjo writes about an article he recently wrote for a Swahili daily newspaper, Mwananchi. He posts a few paragraphs of the article revealing his disgust for government empty slogans. He portrays the Tanzanian society as a one big choir with the press as the lead singers, and the people as the backing vocals; the party cadres are leading vocals, the World Bank and IMF are players of instruments:
Wanatuambia kwenye ripoti zao kuwa serikali yetu inaendesha uchumi kwa ufanisi na imepiga hatua mbele kwenye vita dhidi ya rushwa. Eti nini? Rushwa? Niambie, toka uzaliwe, umemsikia nani kati ya akina nani hii amefikishwa mahakamani kwa rushwa kisha akaenda jela? Niambie ni kesi ngapi unazifahamu za rushwa ya mamilioni?
He briefly touches on what appears to be a cross-border corruption scandal where a UK firm secretly paid a $12m commission into a private Swiss account while selling a military radar system to the government of Tanzania. He urges people to start the process of change from where they are:
Mjadala huu lazima tuuanze hivi sasa. Ni vipi wananchi, ambao ndio wengi kuliko viongozi walaghai, tutakuwa na uwezo, njia, na mfumo imara wa kuhakikisha kuwa hatuibiwi kama watoto wadogo? Kuna wakati niliandika kuhusu mbinu za kuleta mabadiliko kwenye jamii. Nilisema kuwa iwapo hujaweza kumwajibisha mwenyekiti wa serikali za mtaani kwenu, ni vipi utaweza kumwajibisha raisi, mbunge, au waziri? Kama hujaweza kuunda vuguvugu mtaani kwenu kuhakikisha kuwa mnaondoa wezi, mnajenga utamaduni wa kutupa takataka sehemu zinazohusika, mna utaratibu wa kusafisha mtaa wenu, n.k., ni vipi utaweza kuongelea suala la utunzaji wa mazingira kitaifa au kampeni ya kukamata majambazi kitaifa?
And as the dust is beginning to settle after the meeting of Anglican Church leaders in Tanzania where conservative and liberal views on homosexuality were not resolved, Damija seeks some clarification on what is sin and what is not, and why the issue of gay priests has never been controversial in other religions like Islam:
Watu hawa ambao hujulikana kwa wanaume kama ‘Basha na wasenge’, na kwa wanawake ‘Wasagaji’, wamekuwa wakipigania kukubalika katika jamii na hata kupewa majukumu mbalimbali ya uongozi. Wanataka waongoze nchi, wanataka waongoze makanisa bado sijasikia wanaotaka kuongoza misikiti. Hali imekuwa ni ngumu kwao hasa katika hili la uongozi. Swali langu ni kwamba je wanapaswa kupewa nafasi hizi au hapana?