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Tanzania

Opinion: Tanzania needs discipline in its democracy

Tanzanians should brace themselves in 2017 not just for natural disasters such as drought, but also for a change in the way they conduct their affairs if national goals are to be realized, writes Anaclet Rwegayura.

The road that the majority of Tanzanians took through 2016 to the New Year was very bumpy, if not scaring as well. They say the year was the toughest in recent times.

Now as they start 2017, many seem uncertain about the economic situation despite what the government wants them to believe that Tanzania has been riding on a steady growth path for a decade.

Due to Western influences which crept into the local culture before national independence, Tanzanians find themselves spending heavily on shopping and travel at the end of every year in order to enjoy the holiday season.

Missing out on this trend, people believe, could be a bad omen of how they would fare throughout the coming year, even with regard to things beyond their control such as the weather, which already shows no sign of relief from the current drought.

Famine was unheard of in the northwestern Kagera Region until the 2016 drought hit the area and devastated banana and coffee plantations. These are crops with which the local population is usually identified.

Gastautor Anaclet Rwegayura (Privat)

Anaclet Rwegayura is a Tanzanian analyst

Natural water sources are drying up, in addition to the quake that left a trail of destruction of infrastructure in the region in October. 

Reports from several other areas of the country tell of the need for emergency supplies of food and water. The situation could soon require the government to deal with a bigger disaster than the one already encountered.

This time around it's not merrymaking as usual. The first month of every year comes with its commitments as people have to clear outstanding debts, pay school fees and government taxes in order to make a fresh start.

Those in public offices must be braced up to face tough challenges in 2017 after the trial run in the first year of President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli's administration. He is not likely to allow them a pause.

The situation on the ground indicates that, from the grass-roots level upward, this nation requires - more than ever before - determined leadership and discipline that is relevant to people's expanding desires and expectations.

If Tanzania is to achieve its ambition of middle-income status with its own resources, the leaders and the people they lead must demonstrate that they are disciplined in the work and business they do.

Tanzanians still have a long way to go before they can boast of life in dignity and triumph over poverty. They cannot get there without acting in support of the principle of work for which their president stands.

President Magufuli has just planted the seed of work, but like any other plant, it needs to be nurtured and protected with everybody's discipline and skills while it grows. Disciplined work is vital to get fruits from the tree he has planted.

'Rowdy hawkers and spear-wielding pastoralists' 

The people cannot get involved in working out solutions to their problems if they are not disciplined. One has to look, for instance, at youthful street hawkers and the hassles they face in every Tanzanian town.

The proliferation of smart phones has transformed the way businesspersons, including hawkers, interact with customers and react to directives from local administrators on such issues as orderliness and sanitation.

Resentment has been the usual response by hawkers and through phones that virus would spread like bushfire from one town to another across the country. Misguided groups consider directives as deliberate action taken by administrators to frustrate them, simply because they lack discipline and foresight.

Intermittent clashes between farmers and pastoralists demonstrate the same shortcoming, particularly on the side of arrogant cattle herders who see every green foliage as food for livestock.

Rowdy hawkers and spear-wielding pastoralists can retard development in urban and rural areas by claiming mistreatment, simply because they are pampered by some politicians who regard them as potential support pools at election time.

Tanzania's democracy must be combined with discipline if the rest of the world is not to regard it as being set apart from respectable nations.  

 

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