Tanzania’s Prime Minister Edward Lowassa resigned last week following allegations that he was implicated in awarding an energy contract to a US-based company in an improper manner. Mr Lowassa claims that he is innocent, but has since stood down to let investigations take their course unimpeded. It is not for us to say whether he is innocent or not, but his action is a rarity in Africa, where leaders consider themselves infallible, and even when they are obviously causing loss of lives as in Kenya and elsewhere, it is anathema for them to even consider the idea of resigning so that proper procedures follow to establish the truth and absolve them or not.
Leaders cling on and on, waiting perhaps to be pushed, and never consider playing the gentleman and leave before someone demands that they do.
Politics in Africa has become so dirty that we can never be sure of even government institutions behaving the way they are supposed to, the reason they are in existence, to be watchdogs for the public. People have become cynical, knowing as they do that governments come to power not really to serve the nation. With such institutions like the office of the Attorney General, the office of the Auditor General, the IGG, the Inspectorate of Government; then the whole complicated arrangement of the judiciary and the other well-known arms of government, our governments should have a semblance of enough checks and balances to frustrate mis-governance.
Without any clear act of wrong-doing on the part of Lowassa, there was nothing that could have pushed him to resign if it was not the gentleman in him. He could have opted to sit tight and wait for the courts to exonerate him, even using his position to illegally influence them, but he elected to behave otherwise.
It is a culture that we pray for our politicians to start cultivating, an honourable culture that blushes for actual and alleged transgressions that leave the perpetrator stronger, not weaker.