More voices urge national dialogue to tackle attacks

Sunday February 25 2018


By Deogratius Kamagi @Deogratiuskamagi

Dar es Saalam. Authorities are increasingly under pressure to take firmer action towards the recent spate of violent attacks.

In the latest incident, police confirmed the killing of Namawala Ward councillor Godfrey Luena (Chadema), who was hacked to death at his home in Morogoro on Thursday night.

Opposition ACT-Wazalendo leader Zitto Kabwe on Saturday stepped up pressure on the authorities, calling for “a national dialgoue” to address the concerns.

He said he hoped the dialogue could ward off the threat of division and pave the way for a lasting solution. “There is also need to form a special team to probe these incidents,” he said in Arusha during his tour of the eight regions where his party has councillors.

President John Magufuli last week demanded that an investigation be conducted and action taken against the culprits after a stray bullet killed National Institute of Transport (NIT) student Akwilina Akwiline.

The incident happened during a confrontation between the police and opposition Chadema supporters a day before the Kinondoni by-election in Dar es Salaam.

Reacting to the shooting, the European Union said in a statement Friday that the spate of violent attacks posed a threat to the country’s image as a haven of peace.

“We note with concern the recent developments which threaten the rights of Tanzanians,” the EU said.

It noted that Tanzania “is widely respected in the world for its stability, peacefulness and freedoms”, and also demanded a probe into the killings.

Earlier in the week, more than a hundred civil society groups raised their voices on Wednesday against the violent attacks.

In an act of public solidarity, 105 organisations signed a statement warning of the attacks against political leaders and “even ordinary citizens”.

They warned of “tension within the country that endangers national peace”, and suggested that a dialogue be held to address the problems.

The statement also cited the case of journalist Azory Gwanda, who disappeared in November after reporting on a string of murders of officials, as well as last week’s shooting of the 22-year-old NIT student.

Members of the forum that brought together political and and religious leaders under the facilitation of the Tanzania Centre for Democracy resolved to seek audience with President Magufuli.

“We will seek the President’s audience to brief him,” said TCD chairman James Mbatia after the meeting.

Earlier last week Chadema said a senior party official, Mr Daniel John, was kidnapped, tortured and then beaten to death after men bundled him into a car.

The government denies claims by the opposition that the murders are politically motivated.

Mr Zitto said a dialogue involving civil society groups, the business community, farmers and pastoralists could ward off tension.

“The Rufiji, Kibiti and Mkuranga killings should also be part of the terms of reference,” he said