MANY Tanzanians, as President Jakaya Kikwete rightly observed in his monthly address to the nation, are now conversant with political pluralism, a concept that was re-introduced in the country in 1992 just in time for the 1995 general elections.
It is now 20 years since multi-party democracy was re-established, a move that was greeted by the establishment of a number of political parties to 'cohabitate' with CCM that was until then the sole party. The re-introduction of multi-partyism was well meant as a means to widen democracy and promote good governance. It was not in any way meant to bring politics of hatred and violence.
It was intended to attract diverse but positive opinion from the people by way of giving them freedom to choose and belong to political parties of their choice. It was meant to create a level playing field, the appropriate catchword being 'competition', not 'rivalry'. But it has not been plain sailing though as some leaders of certain political parties and unruly followers saw things differently.
In their warped thinking, they saw in political pluralism an opportunity to advance their selfish political agenda by fomenting hatred and inciting chaos.No part of the United Republic has been spared in acts of political violence. Memories linger of the events in Zanzibar soon after the 2000 general elections in which political violence resulted into the deaths of dozens of people and left hundreds others fleeing to a neighbouring country in search of refuge.
The Mainland has not been spared either as unauthorized political activity or those that had turned violent had to be forcefully broken off by state security organs. In such confrontation, it is sad that some lives were lost while a number of people were maimed, some of them permanently.
We agree with the president that civilized political activity is possible. In this endeavour, political party leaders have the responsibility to avoid incitement of any sort during political rallies as well as educating their members and supporters on proper political conduct.In the bottom line, Tanzanians should be wary of such divisive politicians who are hell bent on preaching politics of violence. They should treat them with the contempt they deserve.