Monday, February 26, 2018

National dialogue needed to end violence

By TheCitizen

The term ‘dialogue’ means “an exchange of ideas or opinions on a particular issue – especially a political or religious issue – with a view to reaching an amicable agreement or settlement…” And a ‘national dialogue’ describes “an increasingly-popular tool for conflict-resolution and political transformation. A national dialogue can broaden debate regarding a country’s trajectory beyond the ‘usual elite decision-makers…’”!

Having noted that, we at The Citizen call for a national dialogue on issues of safety and security as they’re already adversely impinging upon the rights, freedoms and lives of Tanzanians.

The latest such reverberating calls was made in Arusha on February 24 this year by the ‘Strong Leader’ of the political opposition party ‘ACT-Wazalendo,’ Zitto Kabwe.

Speaking for some 105-strong group of political, religious and other civil-society-based leaders, Mr Kabwe stressed a national dialogue to thrash out a lasting solution to what’s a seemingly endless spate of deadly violence in Tanzania, including beatings and torture leading in some cases to maiming and death.

The dialogue route’s being orchestrated by the Tanzania Centre for Democracy, chaired by James Mbatia, national chairman of the opposition political party NCCR-Mageuzi.

The idea is to corner the government into seriously addressing and surmounting Tanzanians’ concerns about their security and other freedoms and rights – doing so even as it investigates past incidents, identify the culprits, and judicially act by way of penalisation and deterrence.

It’s indeed of little or no consequence to claim – as some government officials and partisan politicians are already claiming – that the abductions, maiming and murders AREN’T politically-motivated.

What Tanzanians – and their development partners, as exemplified by the EU in its noble statement of Feb. 23 – sorely need is for the deadly violence to end soonest, and Tanzania’s traditional status and reputation as a ‘haven of peace’ restored.

This, we believe, is within the government’s capacity, capability and ability to do.


Tanzania has had a long history of cultivating good international relations. As such, it opened a number of diplomatic missions across the globe. Such relations are crucial for the attainment of socio, economic and political development. Often times, it is good ties that result in increased foreign direct investments. Last week, newly appointed and sworn Tanzania’s envoys Dr Willibrod Slaa and Muhidin Mboweto, met Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa at his Dar residence. During the meeting the latter instructed the duo to work hard, diligently and smartly. Most importantly, he instructed them to woo investors from the countries they would be working in—Sweden and Nigeria respectively.

By issuing this directive, the PM was not only addressing Dr Slaa and Mr Mboweto, but all envoys representing Tanzania out there.

However, it is equally important for the government to ensure that it simplifies the job of its envoys. To attract substantive investors, the government must put in place good business environment.

The government only needs to address shortcomings pointed out in the ‘Ease of Doing Business Index’ and similar research reports. Fixing these challenges will not only attract investors but simplify the job of the country’s envoys overseas.

Back home, the government must improve safety and security of people and their property. Improving civil liberties is also an important component for the country to develop. Tanzania can do better.