Monday, May 27, 2013

Government VS Mtwara


Tanzania, once known as the haven of peace, is slowly but steadily sliding into a culture of violence.
Once upon a time, we read or heard of loss of life and damage to roads and property in other countries.

These days, it takes very little to set off a bout of vicious violence here.
We are just a fledgling economy and a donor-dependent nation. We should know that it will take time and money to rebuild what we are destroying today. It is we who will have to dig deep into our pockets.

These bouts of violence amount to cutting off our noses to spite our faces. On Wednesday, violent demonstrations broke out in Mtwara town, leaving one person dead and several others wounded.
They were apparently set off by a leaflet campaign inciting Mtwara and Lindi residents to protest should the

Energy and Minerals’ budget include piping natural gas from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam.
At the end of the budget speech, crowds of youth ran amok in the streets. They burnt tyres and placed heavy stones and logs on the road to obstruct vehicles. They also torched some private houses and CCM offices. Business came to a standstill.

We support freedom of expression. But using violence as a means to achieve an end does not fall in that category.
We would rather resort to dialogue and peaceful demonstrations if other means fail.  It would be good, though, if the government were to listen to legitimate grievances and act on them.

These developments tell us that the government ignores people’s voices at great cost. One way of managing the situation would be to give the people a hearing at all stages of plans that concern their welfare.
If people feel ignored and taken for a ride, we can expect more ugly incidents. But we do not want to get to that stage. We do not need that kind of chaos.

There are lessons here for both the government and the people of Tanzania. The question is: Do we have what it takes to rise above our personal needs and wants and focus on the greater good?

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