CLEAN GOVERNMENT:Thoughts of Chinese Leader Xi Jinping

Makwaia Wa Kuhenga

“We should establish a clean government accountability system. If our leaders at all levels are clean and honest; being upright themselves before rectifying others, they will provide a good example from the beginning.

We must strictly require our own relatives, children, and staff to refrain from sheltering, hiding and interceding on all issues related to family and friends; to follow the Party’s code of conduct and to strictly enforce existing provisions for honesty and integrity.” -Chinese leader Xi Jinping TALKING of global leaders, Chinese President Xi Jinping has distinguished himself as a thoughtful leader, always analysing issues related to his country and the world at large.

In my hands now, are two tittles – The Governance of China whose first edition came up in 2014 and the latest one of his collected works – UP AND OUT OF POVERTY published last year. I was most intrigued by the latter – Up and Out of Poverty – where I found his thoughts on ‘Clean Government’ most interesting because what he is discussing in this chapter is most relevant to what is happening in my own country, Tanzania.

President Xi Jinping also has thoughts on Journalism, a whole chapter - which I found very interesting - because it relates to my own career. The book has chapters also on industrial policy, eliminating poverty and the path to developing big agriculture, which could be interesting for us here too.

I will have time to revisit them in this column in subsequent articles. For now, let me address the question of good governance as seen by the Chinese leader, which has some relevance to the initiatives of our own president here, Dr John Pombe Magufuli.

Most Tanzanians will agree that of all past Tanzanian leaders, Dr Magufuli has followed the path of the founder President of this country, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, especially towards leadership of integrity.

Although a lot remains to be done in re-instating a leadership code for the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi, as was the case in the days of the founding Chairman, Mwalimu Nyerere, Dr Magufuli’s immediate action to take graft and corruption by its horns has been roundly applauded. For instance, few Tanzanians were aware of the immense loss in revenue at the Tanzania harbours, in trillion of shillings; which money found its way into private pockets instead of state coffers.

A lootocracy has been in place in this country and had deepened its roots against which the Magufuli CCM administration has fought, and the battle continues today. But the battle against graft or corruption is not unique to one country – even to older states like the People’s Republic of China is there - close to a century on after the triumph of the Chinese Revolution spearheaded by founder Chairman of the Communist Party of China, Mao Zedong.

Following is what Chairman Xi Jinping has to say: “Over the past year, we have seen significant results in punishing corruption and building a clean government. We have essentially put an end to officials misappropriating land for building houses for themselves in violation of law and discipline, abusing their power in project contracting and other unhealthy trends.

“We have made significant progress on investigation of major graft and bribery cases, a sign of resolute determination of the prefectural and county party committees to punish corruption and engage in clean government.

“The problem we face now is how to consolidate these victories, close in on the cornered adversary and take the fight against corruption even further.” To my mind, as you have sampled above, is clear evidence of the superiority of non-liberal political parties, like the Communist Party of China.

This Party, unlike political parties of the West masquerading as more superior in “democratic values” is more down to earth in terms of frankness and exposing concrete situation on the ground in its own rank and file and the country as a whole.

I have not heard of a party, have you, in the western world publicly admitting of corruption and other vices in its own ranks and respective countries generally. But are they that clean as they purport to be? As alluded earlier in this perspective, the ruling party in Tanzania had a good beginning because it had a clearly spelt ideology, that is Socialism and Self- Reliance and the need was emphasized for leaders or public officials not to wear two faces – a public face and a private one.

Towards this end, a leadership code was established. Now that the ruling party in Tanzania, CCM is on the verge of its rebirth as seen from the actions of its new Chairman in fighting for a clean government away from corruption, the need arises for the party to learn from its much older compatriots – such as the Communist Party of China whose leader, Xi Jinping; also urges his colleagues in his ruling party and government to accept “criticism and supervision of the people”.

Says Chairman Xi Jinping: “Since all of the work is to serve the people, we should and can widely accept such criticism and supervision of the people.” He goes on: “If we have the courage to openly accept such criticism and supervision, it is an expression of our strength as communists and also concrete manifestation of practicing what we preach.”

Of course the need for criticism and self-criticism is obvious anywhere especially for those with the task of leading others. It has an advantage of achieving good governance for the simple reason that human beings are not infallible – it is always important to listen to the other side of the coin to achieve sustainable development.

For us in Tanzania, reading the thoughts of others elsewhere, like distinguished leaders of a great country, such as China, a most populous nation in the world; could be advantageous simply because one needs two heads to make the difference because there is always something to learn from others, such as the thoughts of Chairman Xi Jinping talking about a common phenomenon – poverty.

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