Tanzania: Nation in need of prayers right now

Tony Zakaria

YOU know how families become successful everybody’s happy, maybe the children have finished school and the family is making good income.

They have almost everything they need in life and then something bad happens. Family members begin pointing fingers. What happened when everything was going so well? Maybe a few jealous relatives and neighbours sowing seeds of discord in indivudual family members.

When misfortunes begin the family is torn apart. Now this is how life is like. Whenever success knocks on your door, there’s bound to be trouble in the horizon. The devil gets in the way.

Whenever a family sees it is looking for who to blame, they should take a pause and pray for divine intervention. In life after too much sun and drought, rain follows. And sometimes when it rains it really pours.

As Texans who are grapplig with the aftermath of huricane Harvey. How families handle it is a big question which can make it break it. Tanzania is going through a difficult time right now. There’s been a spike in killings recently. In a number of instances, law enforcement officers havebeen victims, in others local leaders leaders have been targeted, injured or killed, creating fear and anger in some sections of society.

The government has been fighting - for lack of a better word - on several fronts with forces that are very powerful on this planet. The war on drugs is not a small thing. Tanzania has been used as a corridor for the transport of illicit drugs for a number of years now.

Thousands of young Tanzanian men and women are languishing in jails across the globe for crimes related to drug trafficking.

As a result of the efforts of the JPM government to crackdown on the transport, sale and use of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and the like, drug lords are losing millions of money in whatever currency from consignments that would have safely passed through Tanzania.

It is not just the drug lords who are affected by Tanzania’s war od drugs. There is a whole chain of people who were benefiting directly and indirectly from drug trafficking.

Small dealers, middlemen, transporters, customs officials, border and airport law enforcers across several countries must be feeling the pinch from money pipelines that have suddenly dried.

The question is, what are humans capable of attempting to reestablish broken links to illicit drug earnings? Tanzanians of all walks of life have backed the efforts of the current president to fight corruption in government, a disease that seemed to have infected many business and social services sectors of our society.

It was so bad that ordinary citizens and visitors they had to bribe to get services from public offices.

It was difficult to get jobs in certain places unless you were related to the mighty and famous. There are enough annual reports of the auditor general indicating alarming levels of abuse and misuse of public monies. Some appropriate noises were made by a few legislators and the media, and then such reports would stay in shelves and nothing much would happen.

Enter Magufuli and since then things fell apart for all those who were used to easy money. We remember the many ships that used to dock on Dar es Salaam port and thousands of containers stuck at Tanzania harbours yards.

On any given day you could see a long line of ships stretching back and running parallel to Coco beach, waiting to offload their cargo destined for Tanzania mainland or neighbouring countries.

Then we heard of thousands of containers that came through without paying duties and taxes. Some ships came and went without a trace. And many containers slipping through silently without being detected. And of course crisp notes weighing several kilogrammes or maybe tonnes changing hands in the process.

How many persons both local and offshore were benefiting from this type of scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours arrangement?

You know how some people we know spend so much time every day at nearby drinking places we jokingly tell them their sitting rooms have shifted to the local bar?

Well, some public officials were so fond of holding meetings in hotels in and outside Tanzania, we started to see how central government offices had moved to Bagamoyo, Arusha, Dubai or London. Airlines were doing brisk business running daily trips from Dar to capitals in the Middle East and Europe.

Some officials probably made more trips to foreign capitals than Henry Kissinger did in his term as USA foreign minister. Hopefully none suffered traveller’s diarrhoea as a result.

President Magufuli in his maiden speech to parliament told how as much as 400 billion shillings was spent on foreign travel by public officials in just two years. Where was I jamani, I missed all this moola.

This money pipeline has been turned off, only a few drops escape for very essential travel on official business. Another batch of frustrated parties. I will skip the thousands of ghost students, ghost employees and their salaries, under-qualified and qualified college entrants receiving undeserved loans, and alcohol traders who have gone under because of restricted opening hours or crackdown on hard liquor sold in small sachets.

The fight to get a larger share of the mineral wealth to benefit Tanzania is surely ruffling the feathers of many powerful organisations and entities. Because if it succeeds, it will change the whole landscape of mining and the sharing of mineral wealth in Africa and the world.

In the past and perhaps in the present, African and South American leaders have suffered because they dared to fight big corporations on behalf of their people. What appeared to have been popular homegrown revolutions may have been aided by forces beyond borders.

How will Tanzania survive local and global forces of evil where money and profit is the religion, while greed, winner takes all, the end justifies the means and collateral damage are part of the creed?

We are no longer pursuing Ujamaa, and our practices are a long way from true capitalism. Do we understand the enemies we have to contend with?

Those enemies will divide and conquer us, and while we fight each other, the vultures will devour the spoils. We need special prayers, now more than ever. May God protect and bless Tanzania.

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