Media Helps to Make Africa’s Tyrants

When a president makes a decree that re-allocates resources from one approved budget vote to another un-budgeted vote, for example as President Magufuli and President Museveni do, what does this say about all those civil servants and politicians who made and approved the plans and budgets?

Is it sufficient to simply justify the presidential decree on grounds that funds are being re-directed from the greedy rich to the poor?

How does a presidential decree affect the work ethic of those civil servants and politicians who participated in making and approving the budget now dismissed by presidential decree?

What does it say about the value that individual citizens place in the formal institutions which ideally define the society, such as a country, in which they live – you know the written down policies, plans, laws, etc., and the informal institutions – unwritten down beliefs and norms?

When the individual – the person holding public office – uses the public office that they hold to ‘bulldoze’ through decisions, in this context presidential decrees, however saintly they may be, in what way or not is the particular individual conforming with expectations for one who holds such an office to abide as defined – formally or informally – by his particular society?

When the individual – the person holding a public office – does not abide by norms and goals valued within his society – in this context the stipulated roles of a president and of the other public offices – is it not in fact counter-productive to celebrate that individual?

Is it not tantamount to celebrating a societal deviant?

After all, this person would necessarily be operating in violation of and would have deviated from the particular social structure of his society.

If one is persuaded, as I am, with the school of thought that views society as an organism, then one appreciates the necessity of dealing with society as a whole.

As a sub-part of society, it is the responsibility of the media to inform members of their respective society so that members of their society can make informed decisions.

Importantly, in addition, if the media does not do its job well, such as when it tells single stories, as it does, for example for President Magufuli and for President Museveni before him, this has the power to over-nourish the ego of the individual beneficiary of the single story narrative.

To the extent, for example, one may believe in the fallacy that within their respective society they are the only ones with a vision and the ability to run state affairs.

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