By TONY ZAKARIA, 10th December 2011 @ 13:00, Total Comments: 2, Hits: 1246
I WAS talking to a learned member of the clergy recently. You know all clerics are learned but some are more learned than others.
They attach a medical the prefix to their names. As in Dr Martin Luther King. The conversation gravitated to the direction the land of the Kilimanjaro is taking these days and the apparent floundering of the national ocean liner in mid current.
You would think a man of the cloth would talk only about the kingdom of God and how to get there, right? Wrong. From time immemorial, men of God have chosen to speak out against all evils in society whether it is corruption, immorality or the frequent jumping of man or Mary in the many ponds of sin available in the world we live in.
Spiritual shepherds must of necessity wallow in the murky waters of social ills, like everybody else and hope they come out smelling clean. How else will they preach salvation? The clergyman said to me, read Mathew 4:4. It says man shall not live by bread alone. And I tell you solemnly, Tanzanians shall not live by politics alone. I never got the chance to add, Tanzanians will live by the sweat of their brows.
The cleric and I regretted the current trend that is taking hold in our beloved Tanganyika of solving every grievance by street demonstrations and strikes. The learned doctor of divine matters believed it was just a matter of time before Tanzania descended into anarchy similar to the street protests in North Africa and the Middle East.
I was having difficulty to comprehend why Tanzanians would want to compromise forever their cherished peace and take the route of Tunisia or Yemen. There is a growing body of disaffected young firebrands who will one day take to the streets like the Egyptians did, the cleric added.
I was tempted to say there is also a growing list of older people willing to use disaffected youth as sacrificial lambs at the altar of politics. What would happen if Tanzania allows itself to descend to the chaos of Egypt or the anarchy of Libya? Perish the thought. The young and restless seem easily whipped into frenzy whenever some mishap occurs in their midst.
When students or teachers are not happy with the speed of payment of their entitlements, they go on strike.
Striking teachers deny students in public schools their right to proper education believing by so doing, they can force government to buckle under pressure and meet their demands pronto. Who are striking students really hurting?
Many senior government workers chose to send their children to private schools here and outside Tanzania. Why send them to Mtakuja secondary when you can afford Head Start international? Many teachers have taken the private school route for their children.
Gone are the days when children of ministers and the president himself studied side by side with those of ordinary peasants and workers. Gone are the days when the offspring of Mwalimu Nyerere and Rashid Kawawa shared dormitories with those of Indembo Yapamilanzi of Kalenga and Nsiya Massawe from Okaoni Moshi. In these years of globalization it is everybody for his family.
Teachers can strike until the cows come home. Nothing much will happen save for union leaders calling press conferences and a few lucky teachers getting their five minutes of fame on national TV. Meanwhile, children of movers and shakers in the land of the Serengeti are quietly getting the best education money can buy. Whoever said charity begins at home was not kidding.
Whenever street hawkers are moved from one location of a city to another or squatters are relocated to pave way for planned building or expansion of infrastructure, you can bet street demonstration will follow. Not too long ago, young men completely took over the streets of Mwanza because street traders were relocated. Police had to withdraw to save their skins.
More recently in Mbeya, some primary school children could not sit for national exams because unruly youth with no respect for authority had blocked whole neighbourhoods including the main highway to Zambia. Why? Because government had not moved fast enough to find alternative site after the market accidentally burned down. What was the emergency? Was government the arsonist for that fire?
There are so many groups planning peaceful and peace-less demonstrations in Dar es Salaam. By now there must be a queue somewhere to determine who goes first between political parties, activists and civil service organs. Dar should soon be named the demo harbour instead of haven of peace. Mwanza should be christened the city that rocks the political boat.
With the way Mbeya is going, the rice bowl of the nation may be up the financial creek if buyers stay away because of an emerging trend of violence. Did something good thing come out of demonstrations and political marathons in Arusha and its suburbs?
Where did physical or verbal violence ever breed peace and security needed for business to flourish? Perhaps tourist bookings may have dropped at a time they should have been going up. The politics of divide and conquer that is becoming common in Tanzania may have significant role in the genesis of much of the civil unrest seen from 2010.
There are genuine grievances that must be addressed as soon as possible by government and its statutory organs. Mobilising the whole country region by region to take to the streets is not the way to go. The short-term costs to business and livelihoods as well as the long term costs of lost productivity and credibility far outweigh any short-term political victories such strategy can bring.
Let us all exercise caution and encourage dialogue and negotiations at a round table. Tanzania belongs to all of us. Your games may become our undoing.
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Total Comments on the above stories (2)
Well said. It is good to resolve our issues peacefully and to learn from what is happening around us.
Who are we kidding? We used to be a socialist-leaning poor country whose economy was 90% agriculture. Now mining and manufacturing makes up a good 40% of the economy. Junior and senior government employees skim off the cream of the national wealth from the top through many ways such as crooked procurement, undeserved entitlements and payments, crooked contracts etc. Private and public sector employees avoid doing a decent day's work yet want to be paid higher salaries or else they go on strike.
Now we have become a society of strikers who score no goals. Tuache kuchezea mali alizotupa Mola kwa kuzitumia binafsi badala ya kwa manufaa ya waTanzania wengi. Tuache siasa na kufanya kazi. Tupeleke huduma kwa wahitaji.
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