THOUSANDS of city residents welcomed the New Year by calling for maintenance of peace and harmony in the country.
This followed President Jakaya Kikwete's call on all Tanzanians to ensure they solve existing social, political and economic problems peacefully.
During special prayers in Dar es Salaam on the New Year eve, the Minister of State in the President's Office (Civil Society Relations and Coordination), Mr Stephen Wasira, said in a message that Tanzania faces a number of challenges that need to be solved amicably.
Mr Wasira, who represented President Jakaya Kikwete, who had been invited to preside at the event, insisted that it was an obligation for every good citizen to take a leading role in helping solve the nation's problems in a manner that would not disrupt peace.
"We don't say we have no problems in this country. What is important here is that we should strive to remain united and peaceful as we fight hard to solve them. Peace is the fruit of justice," said Mr Wasira.
The prayers organized by the Tanzania Fellowship of Churches were also attended by other senior government officials including the Deputy Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, Mr Goodluck Ole Medeye.
Minister Wasira noted that the problems that afflict the youths -- like unemployment -- had all the answers in the government plans but only sustainable plans would be given priorities in tackling the crisis. He called on religious communities to support the government in preaching peace especially now when there were signs of disharmony.
The government, underscored the minister, was aware of the public outcry on evils like corruption but requested serious action to the vice not only from the policy makers but even from the general public at large. Mr Wasira cautioned against what he referred to as people venturing for shortcuts in trying to solve their problems.
"Complaining, shifting blames and preferring shortcuts in trying to solve problems will not help us much. We need to focus on sustainable means of solving the problems," he stressed. Leading the prayers, the Chairman of the event's organizing committee, Bishop Godfrey Emmanuel Malassy, said that if the country remains unstable, nothing meaningful will progress.
He said the Churches are calling for intervention from God. Tanzania needs to be set free of all evils and calamities which are threatening stability and solidarity. The Bishop suggested that every December 31 be a day of prayers for the prosperity of the nation since it is through God's powers that Tanzania remains safe and peaceful.
On his part, the Deputy Minister, Mr Medeye, said that 2013 should be a year of fighting corruption at all levels. He challenged politicians to take a leading role in the endeavour. "MPs, Councillors and all of us must fight hard to eliminate corruption particularly in sensitive areas like land.
Corruption is dangerous and must be confronted left, right and centre," he urged. Meanwhile, his Eminence Polycarp Cardinal Pengo has condemned the shooting of a Catholic priest in Zanzibar, reminding Christians to pray to avert the chaotic direction the nation is heading to.
Addressing a congregation before giving the final blessing to usher in the New Year, Cardinal Pengo said Tanzania is not a place where one could expect to see a priest getting shot by unknown people with unclear vested interests.
"A priest coming from doing his clerical duties is shot and seriously injured... Christians should keep praying for peace and harmony in the country. God should avert such religions conflicts in the New Year (2013)", he said. He said religion should not be the source of conflicts in the country, noting that God has placed different religions in the world, so human beings should learn to accept and live in harmony with each other.
"I would like to remind all Tanzanians who love peace and harmony, that religion should not be the reason for conflict with people fighting and talking ill of each other's religion. Cardinal Pengo urged Christians in the country, to respect believers of other religious denominations and the believers in other sects should do the same to Christians.
He called on the government and its leadership not to protect one religion but ensure all Tanzanians, regardless of their religious affiliations, are protected. "Government is an authority that is not linked to any religion and its leaders who are not elected for religious reasons must ensure all Tanzanians are protected because they are leaders for all Tanzanians regardless of their religions," he explained.
Echoing the same sentiments, President Jakaya Kikwete in his New Year speech to the nation expressed disappointment in connection with security threats orchestrated by some religious and political leaders and their followers. President Kikwete said that despite the fact the country is entering 2013 with a clean sheet of peace and harmony, there are isolated incidents threatening the security of the nation.
In another development, PETI SIYAME reports from Sumbawanga that the wife of Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, Mrs Tunu Pinda, dislikes the behaviour of husbands who batter their wives. She said that this unruly behaviour should stop.