There is something disturbingly condescending about some Tanzanian politicians demanding to be treated as parents. During election seasons, they’d go as far as kneeling to beg for votes. But once in office, they become insecure, attention-seeking parents constantly needing their children’s approval.
Seldom do they act in a way that would actually earn them the respect and adoration of their children, such as putting citizens’ interests before theirs, as a good parent would do. In their minds, simply being over 40 years old convinces them that they’ve earned that father/mother title.
They don’t realise that even biological parents may not automatically earn the privilege of being a father or mother, like some sick men who molest their daughters or the barbaric mothers who would burn their little boys’ fingers for picking a piece of meat from the kitchen pot.
Worst still, they have infused this twisted notion even in the public offices they occupy, treating visiting citizens as toddlers to be told what kind of clothes they should wear. Women, in particular, pay a higher price.
These fathers and mothers can’t stand seeing ladies’ shoulders or knees, let alone the shape of their thighs. Tight trousers are especially the most unwanted material. But how tight is too tight remains exclusively at the discretion of the security at the gate.
It seems these parents’ libidos are too strong that seeing a woman’s legs separated as distinctly by wearing trousers triggers some uncontrollable bodily reactions.
The enforcement of these outfit regulations is guaranteed to be more effective and consistent than even the public service they ought to provide to humiliated citizens visiting their offices.
One would forgive Mzee Yusuf Makamba for berating a journalist as he compares running a country to handling a household. He is an older man from the era of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere as a father figure in a young nation dominated by slogans such as Zidumu Fikra za Mwenyekiti.
But watching a clip of Minister of Information Nape Nnauye reasoning why the President should be treated like one’s biological mother was baffling. It’s also an eye-opener as to how deep this crooked assertion is.
Unfortunately, our historians and political scientists have yet to document how this flawed concept came about. But judging by the extent to which our Tanzanian politicians have perfected spinning it, it appears it’s been around for a while.
When passing problematic laws and policies, you never hear them urging each other to be considerate of citizens, as a responsible parent would do. But when criticised for their incompetence, they quickly demand to be rebuked in polite language.
From their homophobic sentiments to lecturing citizens on outfits, these politicians are probably the world’s best moralists. But if you dig just a little bit deeper into their narratives, you realise they are simply crooked, selective moralists.
A few years ago, a national newspaper carried multiple front-page stories alleging a senior politician to be homosexual and that he competed with another popular politician in sleeping with a certain young man.
None of these moralist politicians rebuked the paper for humiliating our elders, as Nnauye attempted to rally Tanzanian women to come to the president’s defence.
No woman politician in the country has been physically and sexually assaulted like CHADEMA women politicians.
READ MORE: What Does the Future Hold for TZ Democracy?
Their limbs have been broken, and security officers have inappropriately touched their bottoms. All these assaults were caught on tape, but we never heard these moralist politicians raising their voices in defence of fellow politicians.
Just like they exploit citizens’ religious convictions against gay people, this ‘mother/father’ narrative is never about upholding African culture. These politicians hide behind moralism to censor citizens from calling out their blunders. They will always come up with excuses to deter others from criticising them.
If you are a journalist, they will tell you that you are supposed to be ‘neutral.’ If you are an activist or opposition supporter, you will be told not to be used by ‘imperialists’ to ruin the peace and national unity. If you are a business person or other type of consultant, you will be warned that government officials won’t work with you.
This time around,, they’ve gone as far as inspiring an attempt on the life of Advocate Rugemeleza Nshala, who simply played with the language to emphasise his point!
Sammy Awami is an independent journalist and analyst based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter as @awamisammy. These are the writer’s own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of The Chanzo. Want to publish in this space? Contact our editors at email@example.com for further inquiries.