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Tanzania: How to shoot yourself in the foot

How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot is the lesson Tanzania's parliament is delivering, at least for the time being, after its decision to suspend a Member of Parliament for Kigoma North, Zitto Kabwe, has turned into a mini victory for the opposition. Zitto, who keeps a blog, was suspended for allegedly lying to the parliament and humiliating the Energy and Minerals Minister, Nazir Karamagi.

Tabling a private motion, Zitto Kabwe, proposed a set up of a parliamentary committee to investigate a mining deal signed between Tanzania's government and Buzwagi mines at a time when the government is reviewing mining contracts, policies and laws to make them more favourable to Tanzanians. Most people are not entirely convinced that the suspension was fair and Zitto Kabwe is milking all he can from his four months suspension. Opposition party CHADEMA led peaceful demonstrations to Jangwani grounds where thousands waited for Zitto Kabwe's speech.

In the Swahili blogosphere, Maggid Mjengwa promptly tells us about Zitto's suspension immediately after local television stations broke the news, while Muhiddin Michuzi posts a photo of newspapers decorated with Zitto's story straight from a news stand.

Regardless of who is right and who is wrong in the whole saga, one comment at Chemi's blog probably sums up the majority of opinions in those posts:

Bunge limempandisha chati Zitto pasipo kujua na mwishowe najua watajilaumu sana. Wajue ya kwamba Zitto anafanya kazi… Kila alifanyalo Zitto hulenga pahala fulani najua mtego wake sasa umenasa. Serikali lazima ijifunze kitu kwa kila kinachotolewa maamuzi na si kukurupuka tu.

The parliament has elevated Zitto without knowing and when they realise in the end they will only blame themselves. They should know that Zitto is working. .. and he does everything with an aim and now he has got them. The government must learn something in each decision and stop rushing in making decisions.

THIRTY DAYS ULTIMUTUM TO THE GOVERMNENT

Elsewhere in the Swahili blogosphere, the news of workers’ demonstrations organised by the TRADE Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) in Dar Es Salaam dominated. Recently public workers took to the streets to demand higher wages.

Charahani breaks the news:

Katika kuonyesha kweli wamekereka na ahadi wanazodai hazitekelezeki wafanyakazi mkoani Dar es Salaam, wamempa siku 30 Katibu Mkuu wa Shirikisho la Vyama vya Wafanyakazi nchini (Tucta), Nestory Ngulla, kufikisha malalamiko yao kwa Rais Jakaya Kikwete na kurejeshewa majibu, kuhusu nyongeza duni ya mishahara, ili kuepusha hatua nyingine watakazotumia kudai mishahara.

To show their frustrations over unfulfiled promises workers in Dar Es Salaam have given the secretary general of TRADE Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) Nestory Ngulla, thirty days to present their demands to President Jakaya Kikwete and come back with response in order to avoid other measures they may use to demand their rightful wages.

Ngurumo seems to be more than pleased with the demonstrations:

Haijapata kutokea. Terehe 11.Agosti.2007 iliandika historia mpya Tanzania. Wafanyakazi wameandamana na kuilaani serikali ya awamu ya nne kwa kuwadhalilisha, kuwasahau na kuwafanya watumwa katika nchi yao. Ujumbe wao ulifikishwa kwa maandamano, nyimbo, mabango na hotuba kali.

It has never happened before. A New history was written on 11th August 2007 in Tanzania. Workers held a peaceful demonstration to protest against the fourth phase government for making them live as slaves in their own country. Their message was carried home through songs, placards and fiery speeches.

Maggid Mjengwa posts a photo of the demonstration and briefly looks at the lessons learned:

Tuna jifunza mengi sana kutokana na hili.
Sasa nchi ndiyo inakimbia kwa kasi kubwa kuelekea katika capitalism ilhali watu hawaja andaliwa kukabiliana na machungu yake. Tofauti za kipato kama bango linavyosema kuhusu wabunge, ni common kabisa katika nchi za capitalists. Hata hivyo serikali zao zinakuwa karibu na wale wasio nacho kujaribu kupunguza makali ya maisha mfano kupitia affordable social security systems na hata monthly allowances for the unemployed.

Serikali ya JMK inaonyesha ukomavu kiasi fulani kwa kukubali watu waandamane na waseme yaliyo moyoni. … Kupitia maandamano kama haya matatizo yatajulikana, yatajadiliwa na baadhi yakatatuliwa. Tuwe viongozi bora tuwape watu uhuru wa kujieleza…

We are learning a lot from this.
Our country is running so fast towards capitalism while the people are not well prepared to deal with pangs of capitalism. Income inequality between common man and parliamentarians as one of the placards says is a common thing in capitalist countries. But their governments at least try to ease the pain through social security systems and even doles for the unemployed.

JMK's (President Kikwete's) government has shown maturity to some extent for allowing people to demonstrate publicly and to say what they feel… through a demonstration like this problems will be exposed, discussed and some will be solved. Let us be good leaders and give the people a right to express themselves…

Muhiddin Issa Michuzi also has some photos of the demonstrations.

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