The Citizen Reporter
Dodoma. The debate over whether the prevailing tranquillity in Tanzania constituted real peace or it is just an absence of war rocked the august House yesterday.The assertion by some members of Parliament from the opposition that Tanzania did not have peace because of wanton acts of injustices and infringement of people’s rights drew strong condemnation from a ruling party legislator who quoted the holy scriptures to argue his case.
Speaking when debating the Prime Minister’s Office 2011/12 budget yesterday, Salum Barwany (Lindi Urban-CUF), Ezekiel Wenje (Nyamagana-Chadema) and Moses Machali (Kasulu Urban-NCCR Mageuzi) said what prevailed in Tanzania was just “tranquillity associated with fear” and not real peace. They cited poverty, gross injustices, excessive use of force by police and violation of people’s basic rights as indicators of lack of peace.
“You cannot say people have peace when they cannot afford two meals a day, while a select others ‘eat’ with wanton abandon. When we talk of foregoing sitting allowances, we should be understood in this context,” said Mr Machali.
Mr Barwany said there was no real peace when budgetary allocations favoured some regions over others.
“How can we talk of peace when underdeveloped regions such as Lindi continue being neglected by this government? 50 years of independence have seen Lindi stagnate,” Mr Barwany said.“When I won the election my results were not announced until people’s legs and hands were chopped off by the Police…and we talk of peace. What peace? We have no peace in Tanzania,” Mr Wenje said.
Quoting Martin Luther King Jr, he said real peace did not mean the absence of war but the presence of justice.
But these remarks drew the wrath of Mohammed Missanga (Singida West-CCM) who said it was blasphemy to say Tanzania has no real peace.“I urge fellow Tanzanians to stop playing with the peace that God bestowed on us. How can anyone stand in this House and say Tanzania has no peace?” he queried.
Drawing inspiration from the Holy Scriptures, Mr Missanga noted that when Israelites were in the desert while on the way from Egypt they complained to Moses that they were tired of “Manna and meat” and wanted to cultivate their own food.
“Their move was blasphemous and God got angry with them,” Mr Missanga said. During her contribution, Mrs Beatrice Shelukindo (Kilindi-CCM) said Tanzanians were poor because they were “inside a bottle busy eating each other” while their resources were being looted.
Mrs Shelukindo also used the “inside the bottle” analogy to defend MPs’ sitting allowances, which are vehemently opposed by legislators from the opposition party Chadema.“Ugandans have a saying that goes ‘if you lock locusts inside a bottle, they will start eating each other once their food is finished,’” she said.
She added that those opposing sitting allowances were “inside the bottle” because their aim was “witch-hunting” aimed at furthering partisan political gains rather than national interests.“Instead of offering solutions for prevailing problems, we are sitting here wasting time discussing whether MPs are entitled to sitting allowances or not,” she said.
She said Tanzania has huge potentials but Tanzanians do not see them because “they are in a bottle” thereby remaining poor and hapless.Because of being “inside the bottle,” she said, Tanzanians now cherish tribalism, religious intolerance, and the killing of albinos as if these were normal things to do.
In another development, Mr Missanga said Tanzania was in darkness because of “too much politics” in the power generation sector, and a constant neglect of experts’ opinion on the issue.Debating the Prime Minister’s Office budget for the financial year 2011/12 he said the ongoing power crisis has intensified because it has been handled politically instead of technically.
Mr Missanga was echoing the words of the minister of Energy and Minerals William Ngeleja who said at the weekend that it was because of a political wrangle that the Dowans turbines were not bought even after Tanesco said the machines were in good condition technically. Now Tanesco is obliged to buy electricity generated by the same plants after Symbion, an American company, acquired them this year.
“The former Tanesco managing director, Dr Idriss Rashidi, said the country would plunge into total darkness if steps were not immediately taken to save the situation. We ignored him and we are now officially in darkness,” Mr Missanga said.