Events in Tanzania’s political scene are taking place so rapidly as the house of assembly appears to be running in a fast mode. In a matter of just three days from Wednesday 6th to Friday 8th February 2008, a report by the Parliamentary select committee investigating the controversial contract between the government and Richmond Development Company to generate power was presented to the parliament. Then the Prime Minister Edward Lowassa tendered his resignation on Thursday.
With the premier aside, a domino effect followed when other government officials mentioned in the report started to fall on their swords. Minister for Energy and Minerals Nazir Karamagi and the Minister for East African Cooperation Dr. Ibrahim Msabaha tendered their resignations on Thursday. Then the Director General of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), Dr Edward Hosea followed suit.
On Friday February 8, President Jakaya Kikwete dissolved the cabinet and appointed a new Prime Minister, Mr. Mizengo Kayanza Peter Pinda who was endorsed by 98 percent of votes in the parliament.
The former Prime Minister, Edward Lowassa, resigned after the parliamentary Committee findings had shown that the premier was involved in the irregular bidding process that awarded the contract to the Texas based Richmond Development Company. According to the findings, the contract costed Tanzania's taxpayers $140,000 a day in terms of payments remitted to RDC, a company that had no valid registration in the US or Tanzania at the signing of the contract in 2006 and had neither expertise nor experience to execute the power generation project.
With the house of assembly in the fast mode, Swahili bloggers have been posting updates of events as they take place at the parliament house in the Tanzanian capital Dodoma from day one.
On Wednesday, Mrocky posted a photograph of the chairman of the parliamentary select committee Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, as he walks into the National Assembly to present the executive summary of the commission's findings.
The Commission's report has been warmly received as some of the comments at Michuzi's post reveal:
Asante sana Dr. Mwakyembe na kamati yako…Transparency ulioionyesha kwenye hiyo report ni ya hali ya juu sana sana na uzalendo uliotukuka. Nakupongeza sana kwa hilo….you proved beyond the shadow of doubt tht ….umeweka mbele maslahi ya watanzania. ..You are very brave na inaonyesha kwamba huna woga wowote and u can do anything for your beloved country.
HABARI TOKA DODOMA SASA HIVI ZINASEMA KUWA SPIKA WA BUNGE MH. SAMWEL SITTA AMETANGAZA KWAMBA MHESHIMIWA EDWARD LOWASSA AMEAMUA KUJIUZULU UWAZIRI MKUU.
MH. SPIKA BAADA YA KUTANGAZA HILO AMESEMA MJADALA WA RIPOTI YA RICHMOND, NA SIO MJADALA WA LOWASSA, NDIO UENDELEE. NA NDICHO KINACHOFANYIKA HIVI SASA HUKO BUNGENI…
Then just hours later the news of resignations of the Minister for Energy and Minerals Nazir Karamagi and the Minister for East African Cooperation Dr. Ibrahim Msabaha by Bongo Celebrity and Charahani followed.
Although stepping aside, each of those that resigned have claimed innocence. Mjengwa and Haki posted the speech by the former Prime Minister Lowassa congratulating the parliamentary committee, albeit with a pinch of salt:
… nimpongeze Dk. Harrison Mkwakyembe, Mwenyekiti wa kamati Teule kwa kuwasilisha kwa mbwembwe nyingi sana taarifa yake, mbwembwe zilikuwa nzuri kweli. Kwa kazi nzuri kwa maoni yao, wamewasilisha vizuri. Lakini nimesimama kuweka kwenye kumbukumbu kutoridhika kwangu na jinsi kazi hiyo ilivyofanywa.
Kwamba Kamati Teule imesikiliza watu wengine wote pamoja na wanaoita minong'ono ya mitaani, wamesafiri mpaka Marekani kutafuta mashahidi, lakini mimi ambaye ni mmoja kati ya watuhumiwa mle hawakunihoji hata siku moja. Mheshimiwa Spika, nimesimama kueleza masikitiko yangu…
… Kulikuwa na shida gani kwa mfano kufuata utaratibu wa Westminster kuthibitisha hapo unaposema mwenye Richmond ni fulani uka-lay on the table records na ushahidi kuwa ni fulani.
Kwa hiyo nilichofanyiwa napenda kuweka kumbukumbu sawa kwamba naona si sahihi, nimefadhaika sana, nimedhalilishwa sana, nimeonewa sana katika hili.
Maana zimechukuliwa tuhuma zikaelezwa hapa kwamba hivi ndivyo ilivyo. Mimi sijaulizwa. Kulikuwa na shida gani kuniuliza, kwa nini muamini minong'ono ya mitaani kuliko maelezo yangu…
Mheshimiwa Spika, nimetafakari kwa niaba ya chama changu, kwa niaba ya Serikali yangu nimeamua kumwandikia Rais barua ya kumwomba niachie ngazi. Nafanya hivyo kwa moyo mweupe kabisa ili kuonyesha dhana ya uwajibikaji lakini kutokubaliana na utaratibu uliotumika kusema uongo ndani ya Bunge wa kumsingizia mtu.
… That the select committee listened to everyone including gossip out in the streets. They travelled to America to find witnesses, but I, who is among those accused was never interrogated. Mr. Speaker I am here to express my disappointment…
… Was there any hindrance for example that stopped them to apply the Westminster system to verify allegations, for example when you claim that the owner of Richmond is so and so, and then you lay on the table all the records to verify your claim.
Therefore I would like to put on records that what happened was not right, I am perplexed, humiliated and outright oppressed in this because the allegations have been taken as the truth. I was never asked. What stopped them from asking me, why gossip instead of my own account…
… Mr Speaker, I have decided to resign and have tendered my letter of resignation to the president. I am doing so in good faith and to show responsibility, but I do not agree with the process that was used to tell lies in the parliament so as to smear somebody.
Nazir Karamagi, Waziri wa Nishati na Madini ambaye katika uchangiaji wa hoja yake alionekana kuzungumza madudu matupu na kwa kiasi kikubwa aliunga mkono ripoti ya Mwakyembe.
Baadaye alijifananisha na Yesu kwa kujifanya eti hakuwa na dhambi na kwamba anawajibika ili kusudi Watanzania wasife kwa dhambi. Inachekesha.
Aliutumia muda wake mwingi kuzungumzia mambo ya vichekesho huku mara kadhaa akirusha mpira kwa mwenzake Dk Msabaha. Naye Msabaha baada ya kupewa nafasi alitumia muda wake mwngi kufanya mzaha wa matani ya Wazaramo na Wanyamwezi, lakini hakutoa hoja ya msingi ili mradi tu alisimama kutamka nia yake ya kujiuzulu.
And the he compared himself to Jesus saying that he had sinned not but was crucified so that Tanzanians will not die in their sin. It is laughable.
He spent most of his time telling jokes about another implicated minister Dr. Msabaha. And then when Dr. Msabaha spent most of his speech telling jokes about Wazaramo and Wanyamwezi (Dr. Msabaha and Mr, Karamagi ethnic groups).
Then the president dissolved the cabinet. Again Swahili bloggers posted instant updates and comments. Perhaps the most recurring sentiment in the comments boxes can be summed up by the one below from Bongo Celebrity:
This was the only expected move. I hope this time the president will use the golden opportunity and a bit of wisdom to trim down his cabiinet.
It has been a delight for many Tanzanians, that at least there is a beam of light at the end of the tunnel. We need people who are competent and result-oriented and not the rogue ministers as the prvious ones, because we have lost the past two years without tangible results.
Take time and pick among the 38 million Tanzanian a well-organised team, which can steer forward our country – a big reshuffle is required.
Remember the following quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility”.
We really need genuine changes.
Come day three and the president appoints a new Prime Minister as updated by Muhidin Michuzi and other bloggers:
BUNGE LA JAMHURI DAKIKA CHACHE ZILIZOPITA LIMEMTHIBITISHA MH. MIZENGO PETER PINDA KUWA WAZIRI MKUU WA TANZANIA KUCHUKUA NAFASI YA MH. EDWARD LOWASSA ALIYEACHIA NGAZI JANA…
MH. PINDA AMEPITISHWA RASMI NA WABUNGE KUWA WAZIRI MKUU MPYA KWA KURA 279 ZA NDIO AMA ASILIMIA 98.9 WAKATI KURA MBILI ZIMESEMA HAPNANA NA MOJA IMEHARIBIKA.
KUANZIA DAKIKA HII MHESHIMIWA MIZENGO PETER PINDA NDIYE WAZIRI MKUU WETU
Mr. Pinda has been officially endorsed to become the new Prime Minister by 279 yes votes or 98.9 percent, two voted NO and one vote was not valid.
From this minute Mr. Mizengo Peter Pinda is our Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, Maggid Mjengwa travelling in Southern Tanzania takes photos and observes people's reactions in local pubs as they watch television and in the streets as they listen to their radios:
Sijapata kuona nilichokiona jana usiku Mtwara mjini. Karibu katika kila sehemu ya starehe niliwaona watu wakifuatilia kwa makini kinachoendelea Bungeni. Kwamba hata walevi pombe zao ziliwaisha vichwani, wakageuza viti vyao na kufuatilia ripoti ya Richmond iliyokuwa ikisomwa na Mh. Mbunge Mwakyembe. Pichani ni moja ya baa za Mtwara Mjini.
And in another photo post Mjengwa observed:
Leo jioni katika maeneo ya Soko Kuu Mtwara nilishuhudia makundi ya watu wakifuatilia mjadala wa bunge kupitia redio na televisheni. Kuna wakati ilionekana kama watu wanaofuatilia mpira. Kulikuwa kelele za kushangilia za hapa na pale. Mama Anne Kilango Malecela ndiye aliyeonekana kuwakuna wengi. Alishangiliwa kwa nguvu na wananchi wengi wakati akijenga hoja zake bungeni.
The media's treatment of the Richmond affair and of those implicated in it was unfavourably vigilant for more than a year. The scandal had taken so many hits from the media including bloggers such as Makene in March 2007 and Chahali in 2006.
What's amazing is not that at last the parliamentary select committee has exposed the truth, but that it has taken so long. Indeed, in the end, most Tanzanian blogger and readers seem to be cautiously reading the mafisadi obituary (fisadi is a swahili term describing a corrupt person leaning more on being a crook than a regular corrupt person).
Mwezi Novemba mwaka 2006,niliandika makala moja iliyotoka katika gazeti la KULIKONI (toleo la tarehe Novemba 3-9, 2006 2006).Katika makala hiyo nilizungumzia kusikitishwa kwangu na habari kwamba ex-PM Edward Lowassa alikuwa akifanya jitihada za kuwanyamazisha wabunge wa CCM kuhusu shinikizo la kujadili mkataba wa Richmond…
Siku chache baada ya makala hiyo kuchapishwa, Mwandishi wa Habari wa Lowassa,aliandika makala kupinga hoja zangu,kabla ya kunitumia barua-pepe ya shutuma na hatimaye aliweka comments kwenye blog hii… pamoja na mambo mengine alipingana na hoja zangu huku akishutumu kwamba sie wanafunzi tulio nje tukisomeshwa kwa kodi za masikini hatupaswi kukosoa mambo tusiyoyajua
It is not over yet. The story will continue when the president announces a new cabinet at any moment now.