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Government goes dictatorial


    Government submits itself
    to ‘security services'
    •Premier Pinda declares war on the electorate
    •Gives green light to police to “beat”
    •Promised “improved life for all” melts
    •Police, other forces now run big-headed

(To “beat” is to punch, hit, strike, hammer, thump, pound, defeat (by all means and degree), decimate)

At last the Tanzania government has made public what it has all along practiced quietly. The message has been delivered by Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda.

In a question and answer session in parliament on Thursday, 20 June 2013, Pinda declared war on citizens he said did not heed police and other security organs’ orders.

Both in tone and content, the premier surrendered the government to "security forces." He said his government was tired of "stubborn people" who did not heed security forces’ orders.

He said, "I am saying beat them up...because there is not any other way...for we are tired of them.” This is directly giving permission to police and other state security organs to deal with protesters ruthlessly - beat, maim and even kill them.

Going by the premier’s word, to “beat” is to punch, hit, strike, hammer, thump, pound, defeat (by all means and degree), decimate individuals, groups and party members – because the government “is tired of them.”

The premier's desperate and animalistic order may usher the country into bloodshed as opposition to vandalistic politics of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party are being opposed countrywide than ever before.

The government’s signal now clearly underlines its intolerance to opposition and it comes hardly a week since an “unidentified” person threw a bomb into a crowd at a rally organized by opposition Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) party getting ready for local by-elections in the northern city of Arusha.

At least four people were reported dead from the blast and subsequent shootouts by police purportedly “maintaining peace” at the rally. However, the government admitted in parliament this week, police had shot at citizens and over 70 were reported injured.

Minister of State in the premier’s office, responsible for parliamentary affairs, William Lukuvi, told the house on Monday that policemen who were busy pursuing the assailant at the Arusha rally, were blocked by anti-police crowds; and that instead of chasing the bomb-man, police resorted to defending themselves by shooting at wananchi.

The Arusha macabre follows rallies and demos at the Indian Ocean port city of Mtwara, where residents have insistently organized rallies and demos to protest government plan for the Mtwara – Dar es Salaam gas pipeline project.

Residents of Mtwara have long held that they can benefit from gas at Mtwara through plants and industries built in the port city, which they argue would provide employment to the youth in the southern regions; and not from gas pumped to the port city of Dar es Salaam, over 500 kilometres away.

Demonstrations and rallies have since been blocked by police; leaders of demos hunted like criminals, at least two people were reported dead; several others injured and property worth millions of shillings destroyed in related incidences.

At both Arusha and Mtwara, government has used the army to quell ordinary civil strife. It had done the same several times in Dar es Salaam at political parties and religious demos.

But the green light to “beat” – given by the premier to police and security forces – is a declaration of war on citizens and especially the electorate to whom current leaders went kneeling to beg for votes.

The government of President Jakaya Kikwete is frustrated by massive failures to meet the electorate’s expectations – especially the mammoth promise for “improved life for all.”

It is overwhelmed by continual demands for change even within the ruling party; and beleaguered by the opposition cruise to popularity – attributed to revelation and critique of many wrongs including massive siphoning of public funds by those in upper echelons of government.

A hit back at all this is encapsulated in the tone and content of the premier’s order, “beat them!” which effectively saws seeds of discord even among his work team.

The order, which has been criticized and condemned in the press and social media, carries dangerous particles of dictatorship hitherto unfamiliar in Tanzania. It is argued it could bring about misunderstanding and even conflict among intended implementers. Let’s wait and see.

This piece was first posted on 21st June, withdrawn for minor corrections and re-posted.

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