Ms Nkya; The appointment of journalists as DCs would lower the credibility of the profession and the practitioners
Mukama; Those who have been appointed are executives and they have been appointed on their merit and not as party cadres
The debate is a spill-over from Wednesday’s announcement by Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, of a new line-up of DCs numbering slightly over 100.
People who argue that the multi-party system has rendered the post of district commissioner (DC) irrelevant, and those who defend it as being executive rather than political in nature.
The anti-DC lobby includes the opposition Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) and the Tanzania Women’s Association (Tamwa), while a top official of the ruling CCM, a one-time DC, has put up a strong case for the post’s retention.
Speaking to reporters Thursday 10th, 2012 The Chadema spokesman, Mr John Mnyika (Ubungo), went beyond the party’s call for the scrapping of the post of DC, by saying that the move should also apply to that of the immediate senior one of regional commissioner (RC).
He called on wananchi to seize the opportunity that the constitutional review process offered, to air their views to that end, arguing that, in Chadema’s view, the two posts were redundant and didn’t add any value to governance, since the duties of their holders were discharged by lower ranking executives at their duty stations.
Mr Mnyika argued that political representation at district level was pointless, as district council chairmen who doubled as councillors, and district executive directors sufficed.
He elaborated: “The councillors are picked by wananchi in their respective areas and also pick district chairmen who should discharge functions that DCs handle…this creates the sort of confusion that the envisaged new constitution should resolve.”
The Tamwa executive director Ms Ananilea Nkya, complained that, the appointment of journalists as DCs would lower the credibility of the profession and the practitioners, because the public would suspect that they were an affiliate of the Executive branch of government, and thus forfeit its honourable reference as the Fourth Estate.
She elaborated that the reference – as the fourth, though informal pillar of State after the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary ‑ places it in a position to promote the principle of checks and balances.
Journalists included in the latest line-up of DCs (with their work stations in brackets) are: Jacqueline Liana (Magu), Novatus Makunga (Hai), Selemani Mzee Selemani (Kwimba), Muhingo Rweyemamu (Handeni), Lucy Mayenga (Uyui) and Ahmed Kipozi (Bagamoyo).
Those in the previous line-up who retained their posts are Betty Mkwasa and Sarah Dumba. Ms Nkya expressed fears that, the trend could tempt some journalists to become propaganda tools of the Establishment, in the expectation of being rewarded with appointment as DCs in reciprocation.
“Newsrooms may turn into theatres of opportunists who may work as cheap agents of people in authority, for the purpose of courting their favour, as a gamble that they may be appointed DCs in return,” she said.
The Tamwa steward furthermore faulted the appointment as a glaring indicator of lack of a mechanism for grooming future leaders, noting that some of the appointees had been parliamentary aspirants who had been rejected by the electorate. In his reaction, CCM secretary general Wilson Mukama, who had served as Kinondoni and Mafia district commissioner, said the appointments should not be considered political.
“Those who have been appointed are executives and they have been appointed on their merit and not as party cadres. Eighty per cent of the media in Tanzania is privately owned and somehow supports the opposition… we are taking this issue politically but we should remember that DCs are executives,” he said.