Monday, April 23, 2012
The minister and his deputy must go
For this year’s nomination for the worst case of how to run a ministry, I nominate Minister Omar Nundu and his deputy Dr. Athumani Mfutakamba from the Ministry of Transport.
They have expertly demonstrated one of the worst cases of bad government.
To members of the public this spectacle began a few days ago during the parliamentary debate of the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Infrastructure. The report recommended that the Tanzania Ports Authority should go ahead and accept a loan of $US 523.1 million for the expansion of Dar es Salaam Port from China’s Exim Bank.
Hon. John Mnyika then cautioned that rather than accept the loan amount, which was derived from the feasibility study carried out by the same company that will implement the project, the government should carry out its own feasibility study to verify and justify the loan amount. The Chairman of the Committee, the Hon. Peter Serukamba, rejected Mnyika’s suggestion, saying it would delay project implementation by 18 months. Surprisingly, Minister Nundu spoke in favour of Mnyika’s suggestion and began to criticize the manner in which the Parliamentary Committee had recommended China Communication Construction Limited (CCCL). He said, as the sectoral minister responsible, he had not been consulted by the Finance Minister on the loan approval.
Not only was he against decisions taken by another minister, he was against the recommendations of the Committee.
A few days later he held a press conference and accused his deputy, Dr. Athumani Mfutakamba, of working behind his back and, without his knowledge, traveling to three countries, ostensibly at the invitation of another company that is interested in the port expansion project, with the objective of replacing CCCL with this other company.
In the Parliamentary debate, Hon. John Shibuda castigated the minister for not having raised any objections in the Parliamentary Committee, where he is a member, and instead raising these objections at the last stage in parliament. In effect, choosing to hang his dirty linen for all to see. Another member of parliament suggested that the entire tug-of-war is influenced by various ‘interests’. I interpreted that to mean interests of a personal and financial nature.
Dr. Mfutakamba, the deputy minister for Transport, has refuted all allegations raised by his minister.
Members of the public will not know all the details that have prompted a minister and his deputy to go all out at each other through the press, and there are many questions that remain unanswered. But what has been revealed is bad enough to prompt even the most patient appointing authority (the president) to reconsider his patient mannerisms and replace these two fighters.
The Transport and Finance Minister are at odds with each other. Worse, the Transport minister and his deputy are not only in disagreement about something, and rather than sort out those differences in a civil and discreet manner, they have taken out their squabbling to the press and brought into question the government’s ability to work with one purpose to implement the manifesto that their party held up to the electorate in the past elections.