Barely a year to the next general elections, unfulfilled election pledges by President Jakaya Kikwete during the 2010 now haunt Members of Parliament, many of whom are uncertain of their fate in the coming polls. Almost every legislator who took the floor to debate on the budget estimates expressed fear that the unfulfilled promises -- mainly on improving the condition of poor roads -- may cost fortunes in the next general election. In fact, some MPs said that voters could punish some of them for not doing enough to improve roads, and bring the president’s promises to reality. In particular, the MPs took issue with some ministers, saying they should be held responsible for the failure to ensure that the president’s pledges were fulfilled, more so because the elections are around the corner.
In his 2005 election campaign, the president promised to do the most he could to boost the national economy, in part, by pushing for the effective implementation of the national ‘Kilimo Kwanza’ initiative and further development of fishing industries and improve road infrastructure. He also vowed to continue empowering Tanzanians economically so that poor and marginalized wananchi could participate more actively and meaningfully in the country’s social and economic life.
The president then pledged that more initiatives to empower small and medium entrepreneurs would be initiated to lift them to the level of large-scale investors. JK added that his second five-year term at the helm of the country’s leadership would see the government work hard to ensure that Tanzanians benefitted from the country’s mineral wealth, forests, wildlife, tourist and other natural attractions. “Our next priority will be to improve delivery of basic services like health, water, electricity, transport and communication infrastructure,” the president said – at the time -- after picking up forms to seek nomination as chairman of the ruling CCM candidate for the second term.
But even after the elections the president further promised he would improve the country’s road network in the country during official tours of the country. President Jakaya Kikwete’s election pledges took centre stage this week during debate on the Ministry of Works budget for 2014/15, when most MPs openly questioned government how – and when – its pledges would be fulfilled.
MPs across the divide demanded that Works minister John Magufuli tell them precisely when President Jakaya Kikwete’s pledges on new roads would start. Muheza MP Hubert Mtangi (CCM) wondered aloud why the Muheza--Amani road had not been upgraded to tarmac in keeping with the president’s promise in 2005.
He said the president visited the area in 2010 and made the same pledge that the road would ‘soon’ be developed, but nothing had since been done to that effect. The MP said there was need for the government to come up with a special sector to follow up presidential pledges. MP Karatu Rev Israel Natse (Chadema) also queried why the tourist route from Karatu to Mbulu, which joins Arusha and Manyara, had not been repaired to tarmac level despite the region’s economic importance.
He said the president cited this road when he visited the region on April 22, this year but nothing had since been done yet again. Tandahimba MP Juma Abdallah Njwayo (CCM) rocked the House into laughter when he said that some of them risk losing their seats during the next general elections because of such unfulfilled pledges. He argued that the government had always neglected the country’s southern part, and that leaders only came there in recent years following the discovery of natural gas in the region.
The MP claimed that almost all the development projects plans in Mtwara and Lindi weren’t given priority by the government. He added that when President Kikwete visited the area, he promised that the Masasi-Tandahimba-Mtwara road would be upgraded to tarmac before he leaves office.“The truth is that nothing is happening on the ground … and the president is leaving office next year. Please tell us when exactly this project will be completed?” he quried. Msalala MP Ezekiel Maige also blamed the government for failure to upgrade the road linking Shinyanga, Katavi, Tabora and Geita to tarmac level five years after the president promised to do so.
The former minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, while acknowledging the government’s performance, expressed fear that such delays would cost the ruling party during its campaigns next year. He said the government should upgrade links to all newly formed regions, saying: “ It is now five years since the government made its pledges … but it has failed to fulfill these promises .. so when will the project begin since the president’s term ends next year?” he wondered. In response, the Minister for Works, John Magufuli, said the government would upgrade all the roads as outlined in the ruling party’s manifesto, adding that there were plans to refurbish 11,000km of road by the end of next year.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN