As the evening was winding up a Government official I know who was in the co-ordinating team was “working overtime” to ensure that the invited guests’ drivers were at-hand to drive away the individual dignitaries. I just couldn’t help commenting to the official, half-seriously off-course, that it must be extremely difficult for him to handle a group, which may very well include the next president, and not being able to know whom among those he should really concentrate his efforts on.
I hope those words were not taken seriously by anyone in that group for two reasons: first, the entire argument was held under the influence of alcohol, and, second, the person who was the subject of that discussion is now among those people who are in the race, so, at least in theory, he has a chance of becoming the next president which can cause a lot of inconvenience to the person who will have to leave Tanzania and seek employment in Botswana.
If leading a country, especially a poor country like
For the ordinary man or woman on the street, the rules of objectivity count very little in deciding who should be their next president. Emotions rule our choices. You either like someone or you don’t. I happen to have already decided whom I think should be the next president, and I believe millions of other Tanzanians have made their choices. But ask me why that particular person and I cannot give you one reason, yet. I just have this deep feeling that he can accomplish with flying marks what the rest will just carry out routinely. But I also know I can dig up a lot of positive information about him if I have to defend my choice. Which is exactly what every political party does once it has nominated its candidate.
For it is only by being close to a particular candidate through his or her public service career that one has the means to reach an impartial assessment of the candidate’s suitability of leading the more than 33 million Tanzanians. The rest of us judge those who have come forward by no more than a few minutes of TV footage here, a few minutes of a speech on radio there, and only now after they have revealed their intentions do we get a lengthy articulation of their vision as leaders once they assume the reins of power, which I still consider insufficient to enable the public to make an informed choice.
I see many of such a collection of informed Tanzanians being in the national Executive Committees and the Central Committees of the various political parties. They are expected to possess, collectively, the highest concentration of experience and knowledge necessary to make a thorough assessment of the suitability of a particular candidate to this important post. It is everyone’s hope that they will do so judiciously, always with the national interest at heart.
That evening in May 2004 in Ngorongoro, I am glad I did not know what I now know because I can imagine myself creating the most unimaginative excuse to shift from the table I shared with, among others, Ambassadors Juma Mwapachu and Ben Moses and going on to “mingle with the guests” close to Ambassadors Ali Karume and Patrick Chokala.*