Heko Rais Magufuli

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

On birth control; who’s wrong between Magufuli and worrywarts?

Image result for photos of magufuli on birth control  Image result for magufuli cartoons         When President John Pombe Magufuli encouraged Tanzanians to have many more children so as to create manpower, some worrywarts didn’t like his idea and japed him. Perorating aside, in this piece, I’'ll rationate about the issue revolving around population control in order to let my readership decide which position to take and know what’s in the cards. My hypothesis is in the form of question: Is population a problem for Tanzania and Africa in general? If yes, how big or terrifying is it?

            To answer the above major question, I pose another question: If China and India can feed their humungous populations, why can’t Africa do? To put this in the context, China and India sit on the area covering 9,596,961 km² and 3, 287,263 km² with the population of 1.4 and 1.3 billion respectively; equivalent to less than 10% of 148, 940, 000 km² earth’s land mass without as many and precious resources as Africa’s except their people who are over 30% of all binadams. Ironically, Africa, for many decades, has generously been hosting Chinese and Indians while the same doesn’t export its people to these countries.
             Phillipising aside, while Tanzanians are questioning themselves whether they’d embark on family downsizing, Kenya’s an estimated population of 50.95 million which ranks 29th in the world according to the worldpopulation review.com (21 September, 2018). Compare Kenya’s population to Tanzania’s 57.31 million based on their landmasses which are 580,400 km² and 947,300 km² respectively. Why’s it logical for Kenya, which’s nearly a half of Tanzania, to have almost the same population as Tanzania’s? If we seriously consider the population of the East Africa Community compared to its landmass, we’ll find that Tanzania’s bigger than Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda put together with the population of 57 million against approx. 104 million which sit on an area of 876,519 km². Comparably, Tanzania’s still better off. Before ringing a death knell, we must ask simple questions such as: Why does Kenya have bigger economy than Tanzania while it has a small landmass and fewer natural resources comparably? We can go further and interrogate why Nigeria despite being almost as big as Tanzania, still enjoys such humongous GDP despite having as big as three times population as Tanzania or South Africa?
            Whereas the East Africa and Africa in general enjoy on the up population, as Magufuli put it, some Western countries face critical and costly shrinking demographics. According to the CBC (8 February, 2017), some Canadian provinces face population shrinkage. Further, the CBC, for example,  notes that, in 2016,  the province of New Brunswick saw its population drop to 747,101 from 751,171 in 2011—a decrease of 0.5 per cent. Furthermore, despite slight population growth in Canada nationally thanks to migration, the CBC added that, in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, more than 200 towns had fewer residents in 2016 than they did in 2011. Due to population shrinkage, the future of some provinces is bleak. For example, the CTV (7 September, 2017) notes that the population of Newfoundland and Labrador’s likely to take a nosedive from 519,880 to 479,907 by the year 2036.  Although the situation is dire, Canada has financial muscles that help it to attract qualified migrants to come in and live in Canada. So, too, Canada’s many incentives such as jobs, social services and well-performing economy. Is there any need for Africa to wait to face the same while it doesn’t have means to incentivise migrants? And if it uses it laxity, it’ll get aliens who’ll harm it even more drawing from the current experience.
            When it comes to Europe, like Canada, it is facing the same. According to the Guardian (Aug., 25, 2015), “across Europe birth rates are tumbling. The net effect is a ‘perfect demographic storm’ that will imperil economic growth across the continent.” Should Tanzania and Africa in general wait to reach this dire situation?  Due to this looming danger, Spanish business consultant, Alejandro MacarrĂ³n says “most people think we’re only talking about something that will be a problem in 50 years, but we’re already seeing part of the problem” he said. “If current numbers hold, every new generation of Spaniards will be 40% smaller than the previous one.”
 Apart from creating manpower to power the economy of Tanzania and Africa, population growth can act as what I call a womb bomb and weapon that can decolonised the world. If Africans increase just like others, Africa will be able to send its people, as it is currently doing to Europe, so as to force its former colonial masters to stop discriminating against and exploiting Africa under the current unequal world order.
What’d be done thus?
Tanzania and Africa need to invest in their people so that they can feed themselves the way China and India are doing. If population were an obstacle to development, China and India wouldn’t have been performing exponentially economically as they’re currently doing as the rising powers of the world. Methinks, apart from having able governments and good plans, the duo are able to achieve such development simply because they invested in their population. This reminds me of a friend who gave me a call after hearing that I’d welcomed my fifth born. He honestly told me that it’s enough. Before finishing his lecture, I told him that we still hoped to make another one that we made. I openly told him to his face that the problem wasn’t either to have a smaller or bigger number of kids but our mentalities. For, there are many single people I know that can’t feed their single tummies while those with many kids still feed and educate them. Truly, thereafter, our friendship hit the rocks up until now.
            In sum, after looking and considering the scenarios presented hither, I’m sure, my readership will ably decide what to do as a nation and a people, especially at the time the EAC seeks to introduce free residence in any of its country despite such disparities and uneven distribution of population. 
Source: My Library.


Image result for photos of pius msekwaThe quoted words in the heading of this article, have been lifted from a front-page headline of a news item which was published on page 2 of THE CITIZEN of last Thursday, 4th July, 2019. The said item reads as follows: “Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have appealed to President John Magufuli, NOT to sign into law a contentious Bill they say could paralyze their operations. They claimed that once enacted, the written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill no. 3 of 2019), “may force dozens of non-states, local and Regional Organizations to wind up their activities”.  It continues thus: “The CSOs said this yesterday, at a hastily convened meeting in Arusha, that took stock of the controversial law”.  It further said that “the changes would not only effectively kill or reduce the critical role of the civil society sector but would also curtail the citizens’ rights to the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly”.As we stated above in the heading of this article, such attempts to put pressure on the Head of State to ‘withhold his assent’ to a Bill which has been properly passed by the National Assembly, is not only unorthodox, but is also unethical.  And, in fact, as we will explain a little later, no sane President will ever listen to any such misconceived requests, for fear of the negative consequences that will follow from such imprudent action on his part.
 This may be due to lack of knowledge or awareness.   
Presumably, such unorthodox and unethical attempts to put pressure on the President asking him to handle ‘the forbidden fruit”, are the result of an unfortunate lack of knowledge, or awareness, of the Parliamentary complexities that are involved in such matters.   This is  understandable, because lots of other people in many other countries also share this problem, as evidenced  by a book which was published in London  as a useful  ‘guide’  for  new Members of the British House of Commons,  The book  is  titled:  “Member of Parliament:  The job of a backbencher (Macmillan Press, London 1990); which carries the following statement: “In the days immediately following  a general election, the Palace of Westminster is full of earnest men and women. They are the newly elected Members of Parliament, and for many among them, the job which they have just been elected to do is something of a mystery”.  
This statement is also applicable to almost all newly elected MPs of many other Parliaments elsewhere in the world, including Tanzania. This is so because the Rules of procedure inside Parliament, as well as the other Conventions and processes which must be observed, will, obviously, be completely new and unfamiliar to them.  Inevitably, this also applies to all other stakeholders, like our CSOs who are putting pressure on President Magufuli to do what, in fact, is ‘forbidden fruit’ which cannot be handled.  
Hence, a little exposure to this kind of knowledge may be helpful to such stake holders, as it will presumably save them from making requests which cannot be granted.  And that, is the primary purpose of today’s article; namely, to introduce our interested readers to this specialist world of ‘parliamentary affairs’ knowledge.
Why the President cannot withhold his assent.
In the Parliamentary system of Government, there are two basic, cogent, and compelling reasons which prevent the President from withholding his assent to a Bill which has been properly passed by the National Assembly.  They are the following: - The dreadful consequences arising from such imprudent action.  It is imprudent because it will immediately activate the nasty, conflict-laden process which is envisaged under article 97 (2) to (4) of the Constitution of the United Republic; which provides as follows (paraphrased from Kiswahili): 97(2). Where a Bill has been presented to the President for his assent, he will have the option of either assenting to it or withholding his assent.  But in case he opts to withhold his assent, he will be obliged to return the Bill to the National Assembly, with a full statement of his reasons for withholding his assent thereto.                 
97(3). A Bill which has been so returned to the National Assembly,  shall  not be resubmitted to the President seeking his assent  within a period of six months,  unless,  during that restricted period,  the National Assembly will have again  passed the same Bill, but this time with a two-thirds  majority of all its Members .                                                              
97(4). In the event of that actually happening, and the Bill is accordingly re-submitted to the President for his assent, then the President shall be required to give his assent to the said   Bill within twenty-one days of his receiving it.  Failure of which will oblige him to dissolve Parliament, in order to facilitate the holding of a new general election”.
As can be seen, these are Constitutional provisions which, literally, force the President to take the measures stated therein; but which are so conspicuously conflict-laden that they should best be avoided for the sustenance of   peace and tranquility, plus the smooth political management of the country’s affairs.   Such processes will, inevitably, create unnecessary tension between the President and the Legislature, the two most powerful organs in the country’s governance system.   
(ii)  obedience to Parliamentary Conventions.                                                        
Sophocles, that 18th century B.C. Greek Dramatist; is on record as having said that: “nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law, than those who make the law”.  In the instant case, there is one important Rules that our law makers must obey, which is the old parliamentary Convention which states that “the Government is collectively accountable to Parliament”.   
And “the Government” in this context, is defined in Chapter TWO of the country’s Constitution, as consisting of “the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, and the Ministers (Baraza la Mawaziri).  All these officials are therefore under a ‘sacred’ obligation “to stand together or fall together”, in their defense of any government business that is routinely brought to the National Assembly for approval.   In other words, the President cannot willingly escape from this obligation, by refusing to give assent to a Government Bill!   He must “stand together or fall together” with the rest of his colleagues in the Government.   And, indeed, they could ‘fall together’ in the (unlikely) event of Parliament’s dissolution, if it eventually comes to that!                             
Another   important factor which should be noted, is that the Bill under discussion was a Government Bill.  In which case, the Convention relating to the Government’s collective responsibility   becomes fully applicable; thus, effectively preventing the President from taking any such unilateral action of withholding his assent to a Government Bill, in arrogant defiance of that convention!
They are acceptable, legal methods of preventing a bad Bill from becoming law.
There  is actually NO  need  for  stake holders to resort to such unorthodox and unethical methods  of trying to prevent what they consider to be a bad Bill from becoming law,  since  our parliamentary system  has   put in place certain  clear, user-friendly, legal  (and therefore acceptable)  opportunities   for  doing that.
The first such opportunity is presented   at the stage when a given Bill is under consideration by the relevant Standing Committee of the National Assembly.  This is when the stake holders, plus any other interested persons, are given the opportunity to appear before the Committee to present their views or opinions regarding the contents of the relevant Bill.  In parliamentary language, this is known as the “Public hearing stage”; which was first introduced during the year 2000, at the time when I was the Speaker of the National Assembly. The merits of this procedure have since been confirmed, especially when,  in  June 2015, the  Media  stake holders  successfully made use of it to achieve postponement  of  consideration by the National Assembly of  two   Government Bills:   the  “Access to information Bill”, and the “Media Services Bill”; which were postponed   pending further consultations  regarding  their apparently  contentious  provisions.
The second opportunity is provided for in the Rules of the National Assembly, which permit what is known as “lobbying of the Members” of the National Assembly by stake holders, seeking to influence them to reject what they consider to be a bad Bill.  This is a perfectly lawful method, provided that it is not misused through corruption.   
But in addition, there is also a third opportunity, in cases where the two methods described above have failed to produce the desired results, as was the case regarding the Bill under discussion.                    
That method is to petition the courts of justice.  It means that in cases  where  all such attempts have failed, and the disputed Bill has been passed by the National Assembly  and enacted into law by Presidential  assent;   the only remaining  legal method of challenging  such a law  is to petition the court of competent jurisdiction, seeking to have that law, or specified parts of it, invalidated. But that will succeed only if the petitioners can marshal sufficient credible evidence, to prove that the said law actually violates a specified provision of the country’s Constitution.
This presentation is, basically, an endeavour to show that what the stake holders in the instant case are attempting to do, namely, to request the President to withhold his assent to “The Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments Bill (no.  3 of 2019); is a total “non-starter”, i.e. something which has no chance whatsoever of being successful, additionally because of their flawed argument.
Their argument appears to be flawed.
            There appears to be a fatal flaw in their argument.    The relevant stake holder CSOs are reported to base their argument on the conjecture that the new law “will not only effectively kill or reduce the critical role of the civil society sector but would also curtail the citizens’ right to freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly”. (THE CITIZEN, 4th July 2019). This, quite obviously, is mere conjecture regarding the possibility of this law being abused.  However,  there is that authority of  the High Court judgment   in the case of Rev Christopher Mtikila vs Attorney General  (1995) T.L.R 31, which,  in part, reads  as follows :  “The constitutionality of a statute is not found in what could happen in its operations, but in what is actually provided for. The mere possibility of a statutory provision being abused in actual operation, will not make it invalid”.
Thus, mere conjectures, “will not invalidate” the relevant law.  There is there is another unacceptable method which has been attempted in the past   by some stakeholders, in their vein attempts to prevent a ‘bad bill’ from becoming law. That was the attempt to prevent such a Bill from being introduced in the House.   It should be noted that any such attempt, (other than by lobbying and persuading the relevant Parliamentary Committee to agree to do so), is equally unorthodox and unacceptable; for it could amount to an offence under the Parliamentary  Immunity,  Powers, and  Privileges  Act. Stake holders are therefore strongly advised, to also avoid taking that route.
Source: Daily News and Cde Msekwa himself today