Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Kikwete Deplores Religious Bigotry

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has called for restraint and wisdom among Tanzanians in matters of faith, especially when they felt provoked to avoid unnecessary disruption of peace that could plunge the nation into chaos.

Addressing the nation from Shinyanga at the climax of celebrations to mark the end of this year's Uhuru Torch race and the commemoration of the 13th death anniversary of Tanzania's founder, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the president extolled the virtues of 'think before you leap' philosophy before one made rash decisions that could prove detrimental to peace and security.

Referring to last Friday's skirmishes at Mbagala in Dar es Salaam in which members of the anti-riot police force, FFU, had to use force to prevent mob action against a boy who had abused the Holy Quran, Mr Kikwete said despite the fact that the boy's action was very bad, the law should have been left to take its course instead of resorting to the riotous action that resulted into the torching of several churches.

He said that self-restraint was the best course of action to take, giving his own example in which he almost decreed the hanging of all proven albino killers but decided against it following consultations by his advisors. The president noted that the argument over the Holy Book involved two little boys, one of whom acted very provocatively, but added that it was not right for the people to want to take the law into their own hands.

Mr Kikwete also expressed his concern with the ongoing rampant corruption in the country, saying it was a major setback for justice in addition to posing a serious challenge to human development. The president urged Tanzanians to take part in the war against corruption instead of just complaining.

"There is no nation that has developed without first fighting corruption as the vice is the main setback to every human development," he said. The president promised to reinforce the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) to effectively fight graft. Paying tribute to Mwalimu Nyerere, Mr Kikwete said the Father of the Nation will never be forgotten because of his ideal legacy of peace love and harmony that he left to the Tanzanians.

"Mwalimu's 23 years in the office has provided the country with the best policies that has kept the country united and turned to be an Island of Peace," said the president. He noted that the first president's policies were against exploitation and discrimination of any kind, hence creating the nation with justice to every citizen with consideration of the tribe, colour and faith.

Mr Kikwete urged the people to despise all those who were bent on undermining peace and harmony which the country has enjoyed all along and strive to uphold Mwalimu Nyerere's policies. "Mwalimu Nyerere's policies have facilitated the country to be of the few countries which do not produce refuges, thus it is vital to maintain his ideal policies," he said.

Earlier, the Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Dr Fenella Mukangara, said the Uhuru Torch race facilitated about 120 projects -to be launched countrywide, saying about 1.1bil/- was collected during the Uhuru Torch initiatives. "The Uhuru Torch has also helped to convey different messages to all 30 regions in the country," she said.

Shinyanga Regional Commissioner, Mr Ali Nassoro Funga expressed his delight for the honour bestowed to his region of hosting the celebrations to mark the climax of the Uhuru Torch Race. The torch was received from the newly-established region of Simiyu on October 10.

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