Sunday, February 25, 2018

STRAIGHT TALK: Towards a just society: a step forward, two backwards ...



Ally Saleh

Ally Saleh 

A series of unpleasant events have continued to engulf our beloved land in the past couple of months. This does not augur well with government efforts to build a democratic and just society. Furthermore, it paints a bad image for Tanzania.

The unfortunate incidents mostly target opposition members, but from time to time, people not linked to politics, like Akwilina Akwiline, end up paying the ultimate price. Akwilina was shot dead by the police as the latter were dispersing members of the Opoposition Chadema. She was not part to the peaceful demos. She was a passenger in a commuter bus.

At the centre of matters were the by-elections for constituency and ward levels. And, again delays by the National Electoral Commission to issue relevant documents ahead of the polls caused the opposition party to go to the demonstrations.

The developments only show that there is a huge deterioration of the state of security in the country--leading to deaths and people getting maimed.

A lot of Tanzanians both in their private capacity as well as politicians have talked about this threatening state which stifles democratic growth and prosperity as Tanzania moves to build an industrial-based economy.

Evil incidents started in Kibiti. The public was confident that the state would clean up the challenge soon. But, it took too long to contain. Some elements involved in acts that threatened the security of the people.

Later, it emerged that there were bodies being found along the Indian Ocean. These were being placed in bags. Some linked the deaths with political animosity. This became especially evident after an assassination attempt on firebrand politician and lawyer Tundu Lissu.

Unbeknownst to most Tanzania is the fact that such incidents have been happening in Zanzibar for a long time. But, for some unknown reasons, nothing much has been done to try and end the problem.

It was raised in Parliament. Nothing tangible was done. And, the trend in Zanzibar has almost been the same--killings and attacks happening in weeks towards and election.

For over five decades, Tanzania has been a peaceful land. With these happenings, more efforts and commitment would be required to foster peace and tranquillity. We all pray that all these bad incidents of people being killed, others maimed would be ended so that we will live in a stable country, fearing nothing. There are calls from all quarters including the clerics--like Sheikh Mussa Kundecha--, civic bodies, human rights advocates, analysts, and commentators who opined that the country was heading towards anarchy.

Local human rights organisations including the Tanzania Legal and Human Rights Centre and Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition which made a detailed presentation on the issue, have raised their voices, and we hope it has been heard by the powers that be. Recently, United States embassy in Tanzania showed its concern on what has been happening and advised the Tanzania government to address the issue for the good of the country. And only over the weekend the European Union has also raised the same concerns.

This means our friends and as well as development partners would like to work with us when we are at the best of peace and understanding as a nation. They would like to see their money goes down to help the entire population where a government of the day can reach out to the whole population regardless of their political affiliation.

But even without the call by our development partners, we as the citizens of this country are calling for our government, which we believe listens to its people, to act and act fast on this. We would like to live in one, strong society and that can assure peaceful process all the time and for the whole country.

We believe the government in power is able to take care and control the situation so that people can continue to have confidence in the organs of the state. People must enjoy the freedom of movement and expression as well as that of assembly.

Our social, cultural and political differences should never be the source of our division. Ultimately, we’re all entitled to the basic rights. No one should take them away just like that.

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