THE heading of this article is a direct quotation from Erick Mwakibete’s presentation, which appeared on page 26th of THE CITIZEN ON SUNDAY Newspaper of 2nd April, 2017.
I was suitably impressed by Mwakibete’s analysis, and that is what motivated me to write this article, in order to continue the discussion on the matter raised therein.
In this article, I will present some additional literature on this subject, which shows that many other politicians around the world have made statements similar to Mbowe’s; particularly in respect of Mwakibete’s statement that “given how politicians easily change their words, we would be too gullible to take Mbowe’s statement at face value”.
He was damn right! Mwakibete’s analysis. Erick Mwakibete introduces himself as a ‘socio- political commentator and analyst based in Dar es Salaam”.
In his presentation, he was commenting on a speech delivered in Tanga, by Mr Freeman Mbowe, the National Chairman of the CHADEMA political party; who was quoted as telling his fellow party members in Tanga, while launching a local branch of his party that “they had taken too long to defeat CCM in that Region; and vowed that should President Magufuli win a second term in 2020, he (Mbowe) will retire from politics”.
The quotation continued thus: “President Magufuli will be a one term President because his rule does not care about human rights, adding that we made a mistake to elect the fifthphase President, as we are all suffering now”.
Thereafter follows Mwakibete’s analysis, in which he says the following: “The problem however, is that in the last few years, Mbowe has been offering contradictory statements about the same issues or individuals.
In 2015, he launched a scathing attack on Edward Lowassa, when Lowassa threw himself into the ring to contest his former (CCM) party’s Presidential election primaries. But he completely changed his tune when Lowassa joined CHADEMA. Many were left wondered where his convictions had gone to”. And that is what led Mwakibete to the conclusion that “given how politicians easily change their words, we would be too gullible to take Mbowe’s statement at face value”.
My own contribution regarding this matter. It is that Mwakibete should not be surprised at all by Mbowe’s speech. This is because English literature literally abounds in satire relating to this matter of ‘politicians easily changing their words’. And, in fact, such satirical innuendos are to be found also in the literature of many European languages other than the British language.
For example, Soviet Statesman Nikita Kruschev, is on record as having said the following in 1960 (translated from Russian) :- “Politicians are the same everywhere; they promise to build bridges even where there are no rivers”.
And Charles de Gaulle, the well-known French Army General and Statesman, once said (translated from French: “ since a politician never believes what he says, he is surprised when others believe him”. There are numerous other similar examples, but for the purpose of this article, we will stop there and go back to those which originate from English literature, which many of us had the opportunity to learn at Pugu High School, then known as St Francis College, Pugu.
We can choose to start with George Orwell, that famous British novelist who, in his book titled ‘Politics and the English Language’, wrote as follows: “ In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible”.
Thus, if you apply George Orwell’s statement quoted above to Freeman Mbowe’s quoted speech in Tanga, you will quickly realize that in his seemingly ‘senseless’ declaration that “President Magufuli will be a one term President” , Mbowe was, obviously, attempting to “defend the indefensible”!
This is so because, in view of President Magufuli’s widely acknowledged positive performance and delivery, that just cannot happen.
The political situation in 2020 will be totally different. In making that statement, Freeman Mbowe could probably have been still laboring under the influence of the unusual circumstances surrounding the 2015 Presidential elections; In connection therewith, I readily admit that in the build up to the 2015 Presidential elections, there were certain genuine expectations , as well as apprehensions, regarding the outcome of those particular elections.
This unusual situation arose primarily because, at that time, there were two substantial groups of people holding different opinions regarding the outcome of those elections. One was the ‘over-confident’ group, consisting of those who were of the settled view that their candidate, CHADEMA’s Edward Lowassa, was definitely going to win that election, and were therefore only waiting for voting day to confirm their great expectations.
In actual fact, Edward Lowassa himself declared several times during his campaign meetings, that he was going to defeat the CCM candidate, John Magufuli, “ even before the second mass”; (meaning very early in the morning, because in many Christian churches, the second mass normally starts, with only slight variations, at around 8.30 hours in the morning. The second group which, (as the election results later showed), was much larger than the first, consisted of the cautious ones, that is to say, those who were unwilling to demonstrate their predicted winner, Dr John Magufuli.
They very wisely waited for election day itself to prove them right, before they could demonstrate their happiness and excitement. But there was yet a third group, consisting of those who were totally apprehensive of what might happen, depending on the results of the Presidential election.
This group consisted largely of, but was not limited to, the nonvoting foreigners resident in the country, who appeared to have been unduly influenced by what had happened in neighbouring Kenya, which had experienced big trouble in 2013, immediately after their Presidential election results had been announced.
Such apprehensions were evidenced by the numerous prayer events which were organised throughout the country by religious establishments, to pray to God asking for those elections to be peaceful.
It is my contention that such situation will reappear in the 2020 Presidential elections, because it is pretty obvious that as a result of President Magufuli’s sterling performance and delivery during only the first year of his Presidency, he has already completely changed that political landscape of doubts and apprehensions; to the extent that when he seeks re-election for his constitutional second and final term in 2020, no objective observer can possibly imagine him loosing that election.
Back to our survey of English literature regarding politicians. From George Orwell, we can move on to Sir Winston Churchill, that well-known British Statesman and war-time Prime Minister, who is on record as having said the following: “ Politics is the ability to foretell what will happen tomorrow, or next week, or next year; and to have the ability afterwards to explain why it did not happen”.
Let us therefore assume that Freeman Mbowe, (a perfectly seasoned politician) has that ability; namely the ability ‘to foretell what will happen’ in the year 2020. And if we accept Churchill’s philosophy quoted above, we must also assume that he has the ability to explain afterwards, why what he had predicted did not happen!
I personally believe that Mr Mbowe and his colleagues in CHADEMA, do indeed have that required ability for doing just that. Namely, of finding an ‘explanation’ for why what they had predicted did not happen! This belief is based on the 2015 experience.
As we have seen above, the CHADEMA Presidential candidate had confidently predicted that he was going to defeat the CCM candidate John Magufuli, “even before the second mass”. That, of course, did not happen. But he quickly invented an ‘explanation’ for why it did not happen, by strangely claiming that “his votes had been stolen”. This was stranger than fiction! The ploy of ‘votes being stolen’.
It was of course not the first time that we have heard of this familiar ploy being employed for we have heard it being used repeatedly in Zanzibar by the CUF party, immediately after each and every Presidential election which they lost, as their justification for rejecting the results of the relevant election.
My contention here is that because of the transparency provided for in our electoral system and procedures, it is not easy for any of the votes cast at an election to be stolen, as is repeatedly alleged by the losers.
Admittedly though, with the recent introduction of advanced technology in the election process of transmitting results from voting stations to the National Electoral Commission, there have indeed been reports of fraudulent alterations of the original results. But these have normally been discovered and dealt with accordingly.
This is in relation to the transmitting of election results. However, in the most crucial process of casting votes by the electors ; the Elections Act makes adequate provision for the prevention of fraud.
This is because all the participating political parties are allowed to appoint their poling agents whose functions, as prescribed in the Act itself, include “representing and safeguarding the interests of their party’s candidate at the polling station” The words ‘safeguarding the interests of their party’s candidate, obviously include the responsibility to ensure that the relevant candidate’s votes are not stolen. Furthermore, the said Act provides that “the votes cast at a polling station shall be counted at that polling station, and every candidate may appoint a counting agent to represent the candidate at the place of counting the votes, and during the addition of votes by the returning Officer, or by the Electoral Commission, as the case may be”.
How then, I just wonder, can anybody manage to ‘steal’ votes, in the presence of all these watchful agents? I fully realize, of course, that this is what the law says on paper. But I am also aware that some ancient guru is on record as having said that “the law is an ass”.
Does this saying apply in the Elections Act ? In other words, is the Elections Act an ass? Is the Elections Act an ass ? The statement that ‘the law is an ass’, is quoted in Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist, Chap 51, as follows: “ In reply to Mr Brownlow’s statement that the law supposes that your wife always acts under your direction”, Mr Bumble said: “if the law says that, the law is an ass”.
Hence, I have to admit that despite these elaborate provisions of the law, it is probably still possible for people with evil minds and intentions to be able to steal votes. But not because the ‘law is an ass’, but because of their unstable evil minds and intentions, which inevitably lead such people to commit breaches of the law.