Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

28 January 2013

Tanzania: More Urge Solution to Gas Saga

Photo: Capital FM
A natural gas plant: Mtwara residents in Tanzania are protesting the governments plans to pump natural gas to Dar es Salaam through their town.

MORE prominent personalities have commented on the recent spate of incidents in Mtwara Region that are threatening to cause a breach of the peace, calling for serious intervention before it is too late.

A political scientist at the University of Dar es Salaam, Dr Benson Bana, told the 'Daily News' in the city on Sunday that silence on the matter would lead the nation into further chaos.

Mtwara has recently been the subject of acts of lawlessness, including riots and demonstrations, following plans by the government to construct a natural gas pipeline to Dar es Salaam. He called on politicians and religious leaders to make a serious intervention aimed at restoring peace and harmony in the region.

"It is very unfortunate that politicians and religious leaders are fueling this fracas; these incidents are ruining our image as a country and are contrary to our cultures and norms," he said.Dr Bana suspected that the much hyped-about 'demands' purportedly made by the people of Mtwara did not actually represent the true wishes of the region's residents.

"Some political parties are using this as an opportunity to gain popularity. Tanzania has never before been divided into zones or regions when it came to sharing natural resources, so where did the people of Mtwara get this idea from this time around? It is purely a political agenda," he charged.

Dr Bana also said the time has come for the country's leadership to re-think the need to mould youths towards having a clear and shared ideology and direction as a nation."It seems youths are not well prepared to put their national interests first and have a shared direction and ideology -- and that is why they are easily manipulated," he said.

He called on security organs to be more vigilant and stop people from destructing properties.Kigoma North MP, Mr Zitto Kabwe also called on fellow politicians and the government to listen to the people of Mtwara and strive to find a lasting solution to the gas saga.

In a statement released yesterday, Mr Zitto said that Mtwara residents need to be heard and that it was upon all politicians with influence from all political parties to tour Mtwara and talk to the people.

"It is the time that the government and all influential politicians went to Mtwara, ask the people to stop violence, listen to them and give answers to their claims," he said.Mr Zitto also called on fellow politicians to stop pointing accusing fingers at each other and instead be focused and seek solution to Mtwara crisis in one voice.

Meanwhile, reports from Mtwara on Sunday had it that Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda was in the region where he held talks with authorities on the matter.

A source told the 'Daily News' on Sunday that Mr Pinda, who was on his way to Dodoma to attend the Parliament session beginning in the new national capital designate tomorrow, flew to Mtwara where he held a series of meetings with authorities.

The move came a day after Mr Pinda promised to intervene in the gas dispute when he met editors and media owners in Dar es Salaam on Friday.

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